I'm 32 years old. I'm a fundraiser right now for CARE International. But I'm a writer and what I want to do is run my own publishing company. Oh and I want to be surrounded by chicks, especially a nice Hawaiian chick with Malibu rum, who says when I come home "Hello honey." I don't have any friends. I've always been a loner. Divorced twice. I run when it gets too intense. I have four children, Amanda (12), Shanah (11), Ariana (10) and Xavier (8) who was born by artificial insemination. She was a lesbian friend of my first wife. I get around the city by train, feet, any way I can get around.
You say this city's "gotten you into a lot of shit" What do you mean by that?
The city's always open, always running and for a young child in this atmosphere there's nothing but bad left. I mean it's 2 in the morning and your mom doesn't care if you come home or not. What do you expect from a juvenile mind? I mean it's already mischievious but now there's mischief to get in to.
So what kind of mischief did you get in to?
I started off stealing cars, then I went to breaking legs for money and selling freebase. And all of this by the age of 11. That was my first introduction to pain. Other people's pain. They were blinded by their plight. Basically my country pissed on me.
This land of hyposcrisy, so at thee I scream. Land where my fathers died. Home of the pilgrim's lies. Who stole every mountainside. So at thee I scream.
So what came after the breaking legs and selling freebase?
I became notorious. People feared me. When I knocked on your door you knew it was Mr. Death. I went to a kiddie jail, a youth correctional facility. That's where I killed my first human being.
It went to trial and I got off. But I paid the price for another murder later on. A guy was raping my little cousin. She was only 15. Her mother had asked me to take care of her baby because she was dying of cancer. That was my first burden. I beat him to death. I beat him and beat him until he wasn't moving any more. I don't remember much about it. I just know he's dead.
So you were arrested for that? How did that happen?
I turned myself in. I couldn't deal with the demons anymore. Tired of running. The crime happened in '93. They didn't catch up with me until November 11, 1996. I was in Florida, after Island hopping and I saw the world for the first time and I knew I would miss it, but what's done is done. If you steal from a man, you can repay the man for what you stole whether in goods or money, but a life you can't give that back. I decided to turn myself in down in Samford Florida, right next to Kissimmee. I wanted to pay for my sins.
What changed for you?
My kids. I have four. My daughter asked me "Daddy am I ever going to see you again." I realized what not paying for my sins entailed. I would've fought it to the death, but I wasn't ready to give up my life.
So that's when you went to prison, right?
Yea, my first taste of big boy's jail. I was sentenced 35 to life. I felt like I was dead already and you'd be doing me a favor if you killed me. I longed for the sweet taste of death. My first day in Attica was a day I'll never forget. A comrade that I met on the bus through transport, he was Neta [pronounced 'Nyeta'] and I was Blood. And I am Blood. We got along. He was cool. So… when we first walked in to the yard, I tried to give him a pound. He just walked right past me because I was a Blood. He negated our friendship.
When he did that, he sentenced his self to fucking. Two months later, another Neta came and he was high in rank. The Neta kid was being abused, They were taking his money, his commissary and Netas say don't go that way. Fight for it. Even if you lose you still got respect. So, they chose to let one of their own die.
I watched a 370 pound Muslim monster shove a piece of bedframe, about 2 feet long, into the coils of his hot pot, and then he walked up to the Neta kid and told him his rent was due or he would get fucked. The kid knew he was a punk so he shoulda stayed a punk. But because the high ranking Neta was there he tried to be a man and it cost him his life. I watched as the Muslim guy stabbed the kid through the chest so hard that it chipped the wall behind him.
I could have saved him. People knew who I was. My name preceded me. But I didn't care.
Was there a flip side to all that negativity? Anything to give you hope?
My life and lifestyle was changed by a man named Jimmy. I got out of the box, that's solitary, after 3 years. I was in there because I didn't like the police and their ways, and I used to cut them. After a time in the box, when you get out -- I was "going back to population" – but before you go back you have to get a haircut so that you match your prison ID.
And when I sat in Jimmy's chair – the fi rst time I met Jimmy I sat in his barber's chair. I told him not to fuck my hair up or I would kill him. Three days later, I met him in the yard. He approached me. He said: "I thought one of two things about you. Either you're stupid. Or you're crazy. I like to think you were stupid." He told me he had triple life and he coulda killed me right there in the seat. But I had too much potential.
He taught me how to deal with Big Time. Long Time. And brought me to the first chess board I've seen in jail. He said, "Play chess. Can you?" He asked me about my case. He introduced me to the law library. He told me I should be home. It was a crime of passion - you were legally insane, it wasn't premeditated – and so I shouldn"t be in jail on murder 2. It wasn"t depraved indifference. But it turned out they sentenced me under murder 1, and under the laws of 1993 which was also whack. Because in ‘93 there was no murder 1 and Jimmy taught me that too.
So what then?
He told me to stick with him and play chess. So I did. He taught me that there was no such thing as in-mate. Only Check. I sat with him for 2 1/2 years playing chess and he couldn't beat me. See, I started playing chess when I was 7 and my grandfather used to burn my hands when I made wrong moves. So I could play. But he taught me how to really play chess in life. He believed in me. And he showed me not to be of this world, to be a man who makes a liar of the wise man who said "Hide happiness inside of man because that's the only place he never looks."
Is that when you started writing?
I started writing when I was seven. I wrote a poem on the Statue of Liberty. The only thing I remember about that is I went home and I asked my grandmother, "Am I free?" With her indoctrinated mind she said, "Boy, don't you know you can be anything you want to be?" And I said, "I know grandma, but am I free?"
In prison, writing kept me out of trouble. Here's a part of one piece I wrote, Martyr Me!
His wing span takes up two New York City blocks, they are a rainbow of souls flecked in gold screaming. His appearance is frightening and exhilerating in the same breath. The sword he holds is covered in the blood of millions, beneath his feet are the carcasses of small children.
With every swing of his mighty wrath he receives a new piece to the puzzle called stigmata. His tears are plenty as he washes the chunks of blood from his face with these tears.
He approaches me and raises his mighty sword above me, preparing to drain me of all physical and mental injustice, but, before he does he asks, can you see my pain?
So how did you finally get out? It's a lot less than 35 years and here we are talking...
The last time I was in court before my appeal, my mother pointed above the judge and it read "In God we Trust" so I said "If you trust in God, why are you judging me?" That opened my eyes. I had gone in to my shell and realized that everything is based on money but at that time I was proven wrong. There is no justice. Just Us. I did my research at the law library and realized I was sentenced maliciously. So I turned that over and an Angel appeared before me. His name was Deveroe Cannick, a lawyer. He approached my mother and said he would take my case pro bono because he knew I was innocent. 4 1/2 years later they offered me manslaughter 2 and a sentence of 1 to 3 years. I'd already been in jail 6 1/2. I was out on time served.
Do you have any heroes?
Rich Porter. He was a drug dealer that did a lot for me when I was a kid in Harlem. My mother was a dope fiend so there was never anything in the house. He bought me food, sneakers, clothing. He's dead now. By the sword.
If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?
First thing I would do when I got to heaven is talk to Mary Magdalene because she's got all the dirt on Peter. But God? I'd ask God to watch over my children.
Interview by Raphie Frank