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August 2001


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For technical support for these newsletters, please e-mail: arachne@pantarbe.com

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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

Sunday, August 12, 2001
4-9 PM
Bob & Seiko’s Bellevue home

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, July 1, 2001

Bruce Taylor read the editorial in this newsletter and his short story “The Dove”. Mike Monroe read another chapter from Hexodus, his novel in progress. Seiko Olson played a Japanese folk song on the harmonica. Roberta Gregory showed a video of a Bitchy Bitch animated cartoon and her new Bitchy Strips comic strip book. Mike Pryor read an excerpt from his screenplay Roses are a Close Second. Steven Cox read his short story “The Employer”. Chad Roberts read the first chapter of his autobiographical book, Once, I Called Prison Home. Bob Olson read a Christian testimonial about exorcism that he edited for Voice Magazine, written by Ken Lomax. Pippin Sardo came up with her usual gourmet food - bread pudding with rum/brandy sauce

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Other Stuff

Bruce will have a panel titled “The Artist’s Way” at the Edmonds Writers Conference in October.

Bruce continues to work on his Magic Realist Writers International Network.
His e-mail for further information is: MrMagicRealism@aol.com or BruceBTaylor@aol.com.
The Website is: www.pantarbe.com/mrmagicrealism/index.htm.

As president-elect of the Seattle Writers Association, Bruce is also continuing to put together the 2001-2002 program for the SWA. The meetings are the first Thursday of the month, starting September 6, at 7:00 pm, in The University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. NE, Seattle (in the Wedgewood district).

If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial: An Echo

You remember that my last editorial was the speech I gave to students at Shorecrest High School who had just published the 2001 edition of Tattoo, the creative writing magazine that I co-edited (along with Ms. Barb Barnhart) lo, these many years ago. I don’t think I was consciously repeating the words of someone else when he said:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative (and creating). There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Well, Mr. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, in some ways I echoed what you had to say, and indeed, I have also acted on what you said and I gotta say, you are right. It wasn’t until several days after giving the speech that I happened to look upon Von Goethe’s quotation, framed, hanging on the wall in my living room, and I was struck, awe-struck actually, by how haunting the similarity was between what I said and what Von Goethe said, Lord knows how many years ago. We both said, “Do It And This is What Happened To Me”. (I just happened to be very specific about what did happen! And wait until I tell you in the next newsletter about a woman in my short story writing class and what happened to her!) Indeed: Do it. Do it because you matter to you, and because what you do matters to you, it will then also matter to others. And, ultimately it all comes down to a very basic question: just how much do you matter to you?

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

So, what are you waiting for? Because if you do have thoughts and plans and ideas for that music, film, story, but you aren’t putting forth energy into giving them reality, then be prepared to utter the four most painful words that anyone can possibly say: What Might Have Been. Especially painful when the reality is that the Universe was more than willing to give you what you needed, if you had just taken that first step: daring to have faith that what you had to create would have been supported and above all, just might have mattered and perhaps, made the world a little bit kinder, a little bit lovelier, just a little bit more wonderful and wondrous than it already is.

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Chapter 1
of an autobiography of prison life
by Chad Roberts

Once, I called Prison Home

The clicking handcuffs seemed unusually loud this day. It was 5:00 am and the chain bus to the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla was full as usual. I was the last of two prisoners being prepared for my seat on the dreaded Grey Goose, the nickname for the chain bus. As one guard pulled the chain taut around my waist and locked it tightly into place, another guard placed the leg shackles on my ankles. At the back of the room one prisoner was screaming, “I can’t go back! Please don’t take me back to the Concrete Mama!” I could not quiet the fear in my guts.

We drove for miles, chained and uncomfortable in hostile silence. The trip seemed an endless ride to Hell. Just a few miles from the prison property, the bus driver turned on a stereo to play “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix blared from the speakers. The guards gloated as our anxiety increased. I raised myself to peer through the narrow window above my head and get a good look at my new home for the next fourteen years. It was dark and foreboding, even in the late afternoon. I wondered, “What’s gonna happen to me inside those walls?” I looked up at the guard standing, almost at attention, on the landing of the old guard tower. He looked more dangerous than any prisoner here on the Grey Goose. As we exited the Goose several guards were betting on who would go to Five Wing for protective custody and who would be a victim of gang rape, or a beating. We were herded into a room full of guards.

We stood naked in front of several guards, who paced in front of us like tigers. Each of us was waiting our turn. It was my turn. “Step forward and open your mouth! Stick out your tongue! Bend forward, run your fingers through your hair! Pull your ears forward! Lift your arms, now lift your penis! Lift your scrotum! Turn around and lift your right foot! Lift your left foot! Bend over and spread your ass cheeks! Step back into line!” The next guard stepped forward nose to nose with me. He could feel my defiance as he arrogantly whispered, “Pretty Boy, you ain’t nothin but a sex toy. Do yourself a favor. Get your ass into Five Wing.” As we stood there nose to nose, I thought. “Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s doing me a favor.” I responded by spitting in his face.

Sitting in solitary confinement, I wondered if I had done the right thing, or if I had made a critical mistake. My question was answered shortly. An old convict came to my cell. He whispered, “Son, that was a ballsy thing you did!” He pointed toward the main exit. “Those animals out there, hell, they don’t know what to make of you now. You’ve got the fellas thinking twice. Now, watch your step, kid.” I really had a lot to think about.

I was lucky, only five days in solitary. I went to One North, a kind of receiving unit. An old convict named Don was pushing a cart full of “stuff” and hollering like a ball park vendor, “Paper, envelopes, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, aspirin and . . . of course a take apart razor for the young man!” I had no facial hair, period. So I looked at this convict puzzled. “And what am I supposed to do with this razor?” I asked. Don handed me the razor and replied curtly, “Kid you can shave what you don’t have and hope something grows by tomorrow, or you can cut someone’s throat, or cut your own throat, which you seem to be doing well. Hell, kid, I just pass out the supplies.” I was getting to resent words like “kid” and “son”.

Orders sent me to Eight Wing. My cell assignment was on the second tier, in a cell full of young black gang members. I would not tolerate this. Whites did not live with blacks. Prisoners segregating themselves by race was accepted by all as an unwritten law in prison. I went to my counselor, an intelligent looking black man. Walking through his office door uninvited, I stated boldly, “Check this out! I don’t live with niggers!” His eyes became wide and alert. “You people want respect, show some! Oh, and by the way, I do respect hard working intelligent black folk. I don’t respect blacks who talk silly and have their asses hanging out of the back of their low slung beltless pants. They’re in the same category as those cowardly sheet-wearing faggots who get off hurting black folks. So, show me some respect and you’ll get some from me. Put me in a cell you would be comfortable in! Keep my color in mind!” With that said, I turned on my heels and walked out. The counselor sat there silent and bewildered. I stood in the hallway of Eight Wing awaiting the arrival of the goon squad to escort me to solitary. Then, my counselor walked around the corner with a piece of paper in one hand. He approached me cautiously, extending this paper. I took it and he gave me a long look. Not a word passed between us as I turned and walked away. He slowly shook his head from side to side when I walked to my new cell assignment.

I unpacked my few items and viewed my new cell. I thought, “I guess this is what I call home." I grabbed my ice pitcher when the cell door opened for a ten-minute inmate period movement. Heading for the ice machine I walked down the stairs, avoiding any eye contact and not looking in the cells I passed. I stepped into a long line of prisoners waiting to get ice. As I stood in line looking at the wall, I heard a loud popping sound followed by a vocal whisper directly behind me. “I’m gonna have dat boo-tay.” I expected some trouble when I left my cell. “That’s One,” I thought. He repeated himself, “I’m gonna have dat boo-tay,” and the annoying pop. “I thought, “That’s Two,” with the adage three strikes and you’re out. Then I heard, POP! “ I’m gonna have dat boo-tay today!” “And that’s Three!” I said aloud, swinging my elbow backward with all the strength I could muster and connecting with his jaw line. I slowly turned to get a look at the man harassing me and found a large black man laying flat on his back, struggling to regain his senses. I closed my eyes and shook my head praying, “Please don’t get up!” Several blacks began to move quickly into the area. Then, I noticed a large group of non-black prisoners gathering behind me. An older, muscular Mexican walked up to stand right beside me. The big black stood and stepped forward. The blacks moved in closer. The Mexican stepped forward. He whispered to the black man I floored, “If this is going to happen it will be one on one, understand?” As I looked around I saw prisoners reaching into their shirts and pulling out shanks (homemade knives). The black nodded. Then, to my surprise, he smiled and extended his right hand in a gesture of apology replying, “Everything is cool!” I wouldn’t shake his hand, but I did reply, “Everything’s cool.” As the Mexican turned to walk away he said, “You got heart kid.”

My counselor called me into his office. As I was going through the door he greeted me with a smile. I thought, “Something is up.” “Well, Mr. Roberts it says here (reading from my DOC file) that you only have a fourth grade education, it also says that you fit the criteria for the average inmate. You know what I think? I don’t think you’re average at all. I think you’re quite intelligent, not because you’re tough, or because you murdered a man, no, because, one, you’re scared, two, you know what you’re capable of, and three, you don’t allow anyone to see your attributes. And this, young man, makes you stand out like a sore thumb. You’re extremely intelligent and extremely dangerous. I’ll be watching you, and I foresee a long stay in solitary confinement.”

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Advice From The Experts:

"A person who believes…that there is a whole of which one is part, and that in being a part, one is whole: such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play God. Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it.”

Ursula K. LeGuin

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Two Poems by Carl Sloan


Backs search for walls
as doors close.
Hemmed in bodies
scrunch against themselves
defending against
the cold nearness
of strangers.
Eyes study walls
in the endured silence.



It’s not
all there.
It can never
be all there.

Both opposites
are true
false also.

It never works that way
in the lies told
by instruction manuals.

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Last updated:  August 2, 2001