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Full text of "Drum"

RECEIVED 

MAY 2 3 1974 

UNfV. OF MASS. 
ARCHIVES 











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K^ 







STAFF 



Co-Editors Paul W. Barrows 

Edward J. Rogers 

Fiscal Rosa J. Emory 

Imogene Lewis 

Literary Lawrence E. Baugh 

Carolyn Boiling 
Joan Johnson 
Michael Patterson 
Janis Peters 
Kenneth Wright 

Black Image Co-ordinators. . . , L. Tommy Rocha 

. . . . Clyde Santana 
Randell Ramos 

Photography Editor Eugene Niles 

Jetta C. Eraser 
Steven Texiseira 

Administrative Secretary .... David R. Thaxton 

Doris D. Williams 

Office Staff Charline Abbott 

Lorraine Harvey 
Deborah McFarland 
Rose Roberts 
Greg Triplett 






^ 



THE DRUM, WINTER 1974 
Vol.5 No. 2 



Editorial, circulation and advertising 
offices located at 426 New Africa House, 
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 
Mass. 01002. 



Copyright February 8, 1974 

Printing: Gazette Printing Co., Inc., Northampton, Mass. 




CONTENTS 



Page 

3 Dedication 

4 Editorial 

7 The Torture Chamber 

8 The Coming of They 

10 Message to the People 

11 Let Freedom Ring 

14 The Mediumly Secured Luv Story 

22 I Love You Because 

23 Happy Remembrances/Problem Friends 

24 The Installment Plan 
34 Did We Really Love? 
36 Acknowledgements 



Edward J. Rogers 

Edward J. Rogers 

Hassan Shahid 

Hassan Shahid 

Hassan Shahid 

Hassan Shahid 

Insan Sauti 

(Roberts. Preston) 

Frank (Hakim) Meranda 

Charles Bracy 

Insan Sauti 

Larry C. Thomas 



U cUdcccitect to. t^ ^%ot&&t^ 

^H^t^ d^ c<M^i*tc«$tcttt. c*t cut 
CH^^UtcUco*t tA'Cit d<^e^ tiot 

CU^ UA^^tt, ^iU. CUtcC (vAcf 

t^ecf a/ie t^^ne. Cut A.ow 
ioH^ t^^Ot ccKctiAfruted 
^^^CutcattA ^ xe^xtK 




Universal Prisoner 

Most people go around thinking they're free; 

believing it's an easy way to be. 
How many times are we told what to do 

cause it's right, child, or wrong for you? 
In your youth did you grow and achieve or did 

you throw away the things you couldn't believe? 
Do you run in guilt and in fear from all the 

things you truly hold dear? 
The Universal prisoner makes his own laws 
The Universal prisoner has no need for stars. 
He can't climb 
He can't grow 

and worst of all he doesn't know. 
Do you share yourself in love. 

What's inside 
Or do you run to the phony world where most 

people hide? 
Are you honest like the lilies of the field 

you see? 
Hey, so ask yourself, are you truly free? 

The universal prisoner makes his own laws 

The universal prisoner has no need for stars. 
Oh, no He can't climb 

He can't grow 
And worst of all he doesn't know. 

No No No No No 
No No No No No No No 
The Universal Prisoner. 
Whatcha you going to tell him? 

The Universal prisoner 
somebody's gotta talk to him 

It's gonna be rough. 

The universal prisoner 

You gotta straighten him out. 

You gotta get him outa his cell 

no need to 

can't stand it 
Gotta find a better way to live 
Tired of this jiving 

No need 

No No No 

Whatcha you gonna do? 

These lyrics were taken from Eddie Harris & Les McCann Second Movement Album. 

In this issue you'll read things by brothers who may have been the guy next door or around the corner. 
Their writings will try to get a message across to you without having you subject yourself to a confinement such 
as the one they are going through. This is not to say that all Black people outside of prison are free, but as 
Malcolm once said "Black people in the United States today are all in prison, the ones in the joint are just in 
solitary confinement." (By the way Malcolm did time in Norfolk also.) 



*Bisinillah-hir-Rahmaii-iiir-Rahim 



And the children 
grow up 
and 
become men. 

Some go to 

foreign soil, 

shed blood 

and 

die for 

some unknown cause 

Many are thrown 
in jails 
to die 

slow and torturous 
deaths, 

while mothers wait 
in 

empty homes 
and 

dream beautiful 
dreams 
that 
will 
never 
be 
realized 




*In the name of Allah the All-Merciful 



Streets lined with trash cans 

Pregnant women hanging out of windows yeUing 

YelHng to their children who are playing 

In a playground that will never be 

Each day coming home with a new cut 

From a different broken wine bottle 

The police circle endlessly to make sure 

That no one leaves 

While inside the rats eat the cat 

Because they already ate the roaches 

And the streets are still lined with trash cans 

The men are only seen at night 
Because at night things don't look so bad 
And it's easier to slip from bar to bar 
With their favorite night worker 

All act as though they don't mind 

And deep inside only pray 

While watching from the apartment windows 

The streets lined with trash cans 



Kamau Madu 
{carl w. griffin) 
1972 




The torture 
chamber: 



Welcome to the chamber of 
horrors where we/the 
victims of madness enact 
our respective roles. 



Down the street, round the 
corner, through the 
alleyway, we stumble upon 
young brothers drinkin wine 
talkin trash, smoking reefer 
caught dead -up in a nodddddd 
jimmm 

highhhhh 




M 



pmmiwmssmtm^i 




Moving along, we come across 
beautiful black women/who are 
to be the future mothers of our 
children, selling their warm and 
fertile bodies to some diseased 
faggot for pleasure and the 
exchange of a few dollars. 



Down the way, preacher jones got 
the church jumpin for joy sayin 
"hallelujah, thank you jesus, 
lawd ha mercy" 



from across the burned -out 
and vacant lots reminding 
us strangely of war scenes, 
comes the sickening smell of 
fried pig wit eggs on the side, 
they call that "soul -food" the 
same ole shit they was feeding 
our mothers and fathers back on 
the slave plantation. 



On sidewalks, in empty school - 
yards we see groups of children 
laughing and playing, seemingly 
unaware of the approaching danger 
of the genocide machine that 
threatens to kill them in their 
youth. 



On we go in our journey through 
the nightmare of illusion. 
I see a dead cat lying in the 
gutter/eyes gone/mouth hanging open/ 
body stiff./ 



The clouds shift, the winds blow, 
the seasons change, and birds sing 
harmonious melodies. 



The sky is blue but changing 
gray for the ghetto is where 
we die from massive overdoses 
of oppression. 



Take (2) giant steps from the 
ghetto/ pass the hospital where 
they shoot you up with strange 
drugs, and find yourself in the 
grave/ the next giant step from 
beyond the ghetto 



2 a.m. 
11/5/73: Shahid 



Bismillah-hir-Rahman-nir-Rahim 



The coming 
of THEY: 



The People of 
THEY 

came from far 
away on 

strange ships, 
bringing 
the strange 

death 
and pestilence 
with them. 

Before 

The coming 

of They, 

THIS rich and fertile land 

from which 

sprang 

my people/the children 
of 
the 

SUN, 
knew no air pollution 

or 
birth control pills. 

The air swarmed with 
an 
abundance 
of 
free/ 
winged 
spirits. 

The hills 

and plains were thick 
with 
herds 

of buffalo 
before 
the coming 
The coming 
of THEY. 




These strange people 
that 
came 
from 
beyond 
the 
rising 
SUN, 
They brought 
their 
strange 
ways 
and 
foreign 
tongue. 

THEY brought 
the werewolf /wolf man/ 
frankenstein/ 
and 
the 
curse 
of 

Death 
with them to the 
Land of 
Sunshine 
and 
Plenty. 



We welcomed them 
with 
food 
and 
open 

arms 
But they spit 
in our 

faces/ 
called 
us 

savages/ 
raped 
our 
women/ 
slaughtered 
our 

children/ 
and 
threw 
our 
men 
in 

jails/ 
to die 

cold and bitter 
deaths. 



The wars came and for 
thousands 
of 

years 
The air 
EXPLODED 

with 
the 
scream 
of 
death 
and 

hot winds 
scorched 
the 
warm, 
fertile 
earth 
turning her 
dry 
and 
barren 
from 
lack 
of 
LOVE. 

Who are THEY? 
these strange 
people 
who 

have 
erected concrete 
and 

steel 

monuments 
of 

DEATH. 



Who are THEY? 
these strange people 
whose 
words 
speak 
peace 
and 
whose 
actions 
breed 
DEATH 
and 
DESTRUCTION. 

Until we/ 
the children 
of 
the 
SUN 
can 
reclaim 
our 
TRUE 
place 
in 
the 
UNIVERSE 
and 
subdue 
the 
strange 
ones 
who 



learned 
to 

walk 
on 
their 
hind 
legs/ 
The earth can never know 
PEACE/ 
and 
our 
children 
will 
always 
know 
slavery 
as 
our 
fathers 
and 
mothers 
have 
who 
walked 
before 
us . . . 

11: p.m. 
10/7/73: Shahid 



Bismillah-hir-Rahman -nir-Rahim 



Message to 
the People: 



In today's world, we find 
it's lifestream threatening to be 
exterminated by it's inhabitants. 
There would appear to be a 
thickening cloud of gloom over 
the earth as nations are frantic- 
ally preparing for war. Look any- 
where and you will see chaos and 
confusion and a growing dis- 
content amongst the people. 
The call is given, "destroy the 
system! Change the system! 




'^HBapF 






Revolution!" For what good is it to destroy a system that oppresses when one cannot change 
or destroy the ugliness within ones own self? After the smoke has cleared and the system is 
no more, what is to prevent this existing state of madness that we live in from erupting again? 
When all the bombs have been exploded, and all the bullets have been fired, will there be peace 
again on this planet? Will there be a lasting solution to the human needs of the people? 
Will the starving children of Vietnam know the peace and freedom denied them? Will the 
children of the ghettos of America know what happiness and security is after the bombs have 
exploded? 

There can be no peace on this planet until all the people submit to Allah (creator & Sus- 
tainer of all life forms)? and obey the laws of creation. All of nature is in a state of complete 
harmony and order, man is the only part of creation that exists in a state of chaos. In conclu- 
sion, man's lasting state of peace and harmony does not depend on his physical environment 
alone. 

As-salaamu-Alaikum-wa-RahmatuUah! 

Shawwal 29, 1393 A.H. 
(Nov. 25, 1973 A.D.) 
Hassan Shahid 



10 



Let Freedom Ring: 



By 
(The scene opens revealing an open court room. 
Seated in the court room are the participants of this 
drama; the district attorney, the defense council, 
and a young white male dressed like a "hippy" wear- 
ing old dungarees, sandals etc. His lawyer walks 
over to him and says) 

"How do you feel?" 
White Male— "How the hell do you think I'm sup- 
posed to feel, I've been coming to this damned 
court for the past two weeks, trying to see the 
judge so I can plead guilty for those five masked 
armed robberies." 
Lawyer— "Well, just be cool, you know that you can 
get a life sentence for just one masked armed 
robbery, so sit tight." 
(At this moment. Judge Peckerwood makes his en- 
trance.) 

Court Clerk— "All rise. Court is in session, all per- 
sons having criminal business to attend to in 
this district court, draw near and give your at- 
tention." 
Lawyer-Judge— "Your honor, my client wishes to 
plead guilty and throw himself completely on 
the mercy of the court. 
(Judge is reading some papers that could be the de- 
fendants criminal record.) 

Judge— "I see that he has quite a bad criminal record; 
fourteen escapes, three kidnappings, and five 
assaults on correctional officers." 
Judge— D. A. —"Do you have any recommendations?" 
D. A. —"Well, your honor, if he will clean himself 
up, I would recommend a sentence of not more 
than seven years and no less than five years." 
Judge-hippy— "It is my duty to inform you that you 
are sentenced to serve not more than seven 
years and no less than five years, provided that 
you will clean yourself." 
Hippy— "Yes sir, thank you, your honor, sir." 
Clerk— "All rise, court is dismissed." 

(Curtain closes for scene one) 

(Scene two opens in the same manner as the pro- 
ceeding scenes. Two men dressed in very conserva- 
tive business suits are seated at the lawyers table 
conversing with each other.) 
(Judge Peckerwood enters) 

Clerk— "All rise. Court is in session, all persons 
having criminal business to attend to in this dis- 
trict court, draw near and give your attention." 
Judge-D.A.— "Do you have any evidence to pro- 
duce to the court?" 
D.A.— "Yes your honor, I have here copies of the 
records of the defendants insurance company 
that will show that for a period of ten years, 
while Thomas J. Watergate III, esq. was presi- 
dent of the insurance company, he misap- 
propriated the sum of three million dollars." 
Judge— "Is he here in the court-room?" 
(The two men seated at the lawyers table stand and 
say) 

"No, your honor, Mr. Watergate is on vacation 
in Bermuda with his family, and we are repre- 
senting him. He informed us that all of the ar- 
rangements had been taken care of, and he 
sent us here to take care of the legal aspects of 



Shahid 

this trial. Your honor, may we approach the 

bench?" 
Judge— "Yes." 

(They are now huddled together talking for awhile. 
The huddle breaks and everyone goes back to his 
place) 

One of the lawyers says— 

"Your honor, our client wishes to plead guilty 

and throw himself upon the mercy of the court." 
Judge— "So you know that a fine will have to be 

paid." 
Lawyers— "Yes, your honor and we are prepared to 

pay it." 
Judge— "I regret to say that I fine Mr. Watergate for 

the sum of $1,000 dollars and sentence him to 

six months, suspended sentence." 
Lawyers— "Thank you sir, your honor sir. " 
(The curtain closes for scene two, with the lawyers 
shaking the D.A.'S hand.) 



(Scene three opens in the same manner as the pro- 
ceeding scenes. Seated in the courtroom are the de- 
fense council, the district attorney, and a young 
Black male of approximately seventeen years old. He 
is talking with an elderly Black woman who is his 
mother. His lawyer whispers something to the D.A. 
then walks over to the young man and says) 

"Are you sure you don't want to plead guilty, 
I can still get you a deal?" 
Yng Blk— "But why should I, I didn't rob that store, 

I was helping my mother. She'll swear to that." 
Lawyer— "You know I believe you, but it's just a 
question of whether the judge will believe your 
word over that of the arresting police officer." 
Yng Blk— "Well, I still want to go through with it." 
Lawyer— "'All right, if that's the way you want it, 

I'm with you all the way." 
(Judge Peckerwood makes his entrance) 
Clerk— "All rise. Court is in session, all persons hav- 
ing criminal business to attend to in this dis- 
trict court, draw near and give your attention." 
Lawyer stands and says— 

"Your honor, I would like to have a continu- 
ance." 
Judge— "Denied." 

Lawyer— "May I approach the bench?" 
(Now we have them all huddled in a corner, all 
busily talking about something that nobody but 
themselves know about.) 

Yng Blk— "What is all of this?" slight pause, "May- 
be I might get a break after all, but I sure would 
like to know what they"re talking about."' 
(The huddle breaks and everyone goes back to their 
respective places.) 
Judge-D.A.— "Are you ready to proceed with the 

prosecution?" 
D.A— ""Your honor, two of my witnesses are on va- 
cation in Europe, and are not available at this 
time." 
Judge— ""Do you need more time?"' 
D.A. —'"No, your honor, we have the arresting 
police officer here, and I'm sure that his word 
will be good enough.'" 
(Lawyer leaps to his feet.) 



11 



12 



—"Your honor, I object." 

Judge— "Sit down. Motion denied." 

Judge-D.A.— "Are you ready to proceed?" 

D. A.— (Grinning all over himself) 

—"Yes, your honor. I would like to bring 
Patrolman Lebowskiwitz to the stand." 

Clerk— "Raise your right hand. Do you solemnly 
swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but 
the truth?" 

Police— "I do." 

Clerk— "You may be seated." 

Judge-Police— "One last question. Patrolman Le- 
bowskiwitz. Do you have any biased or 
prejudicial feelings towards Black people 
that might interfere with your reasoning at this 
moment, due to the fact that the accused is a 
Black male, and the crime was perpetrated 
against loyal White citizens of this country." 

(Lawyer leaps up again) 

—"Your honor, I object." 

Judge— "You will please hold your tongue, young 
man while these proceedings are going on, I'm 
in control here. One more outburst like that and 
I'll have you removed from this court." 

Judge-Police— "Please excuse this interuption. Do 
you have any biased or prejudicial feelings 
toward Black people that might interfere with 
your reasoning at this moment, due to the fact 
that the accused is a Black male, and the crime 
was perpetrated against loyal White citizens of 
this country?" 

Police— "No, your honor." 

Judge-D.A.— "You may proceed." 

D. A. —"Thank you, your honor." 

D. A. -Police— "For the records sir, will you please 
give the court your full name and occupation?" 

Police— ""My name is Peter Lebowskiwitz, I am as- 
signed to Station 109, 1 work on the p.m. shift." 

D. A. —"'Will you please tell the court what you were 
doing on the night of August 12th?" 

Police— "At approximately 9 p.m. I was driving 
along the inner city boulevard I noticed that the 
lights were off in Weisberg's drugstore, and 
this seemed strange because Weisberg usually 
stays open until midnight on the weekends. 
Moving very carefully, I approached the front 
of the drugstore and looked in. I saw a Black 
male taking money out of the cash register, I 
then told him to halt, and that he was under 
arrest." 

D.A.— "Did you get a good look at him?" 

Police— "Yes." 

D.A.— "Do you see him in the court room?" 

Police— "Yes, he is the defendant (points to young 
Black male.) 

D.A.— '" You may continue." 

Police— "He then fired a shot at me, and disappeared 
to the back of the drugstore, the door was open, 
so I followed in pursuit of him. The back door 
was also open, and I came out hoping to see 
him, but he had completely disappeared." 
D. A. —"What else happened?" 

Police— "As I was walking back to my car, two 
women called out to me from the apartment 
building across the street, they told me that they 
had seen a Black male come running out of the 
back of the drugstore and they gave me a des- 
cription?" 
Police (reading from paper) 



—"Black male, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches, 
smooth-shaved, and wearing a black jacket." "I 
then reported to the police station and proceed- 
ed to the neighborhood pool hall.'" 

D. A. —"'What was your intention for going to this 
place?" 

Police— "Well, 1 have some informers who are usual- 
ly in this area, and I had hoped to get some in- 
formation, but upon approaching the pool hall, 
I saw the defendant standing in the doorway." 

D.A.— "Is he the same person that you saw in the 
drugstore earlier that evening?" 

Police— "Yes sir." 

D.A.— " You may continue." 

Police— "I then put him under arrest on suspicion 
of armed robbery." 

D.A.— "No further questions." 

Defendant's Lawyer-Police 

—""Sir if I recall correctly, you testified earlier 
that you saw the defendant in the drugstore on 
the night that the crime in question was com- 
mitted." 

Police-"Yes, I did." 

Lawyer— "You also testified that the lights were off 
in the drugstore, is that correct?" 

Police-"Yes I did." 

D.A.— " Your honor, I object." 

Judge— "Denied." 

Judge-Lawyer— ""You may continue." 

Lawyer-Police— 

"If it was dark in the drugstore as you testified 
earlier, then how could you possibly have been 
able to make out the features of the defendant 
under such poor lighting conditions?" 

(D.A. leaps to his feet, knocking chairs and books 

over.) 

— "Your honor, I object to this type of ques- 
tioning."' 

Judge— "Motion sustained." 

D.A. —"Thank you your honor. May I approach the 
bench?" 

(Another huddle, the defendant's lawyer is going 

through a lot of changes.) 

Yng Blk— "Man, this don't look too cool at all." 

(The huddle breaks and they all go back to their 

places.) 

Defendant's lawyer— "No further questions." 

Judge replies— ""We will have a short recess." 

Clerk— "All rise, court is in recess."' (Judge leaves.) 

(Lawyer is now talking with defendant and de- 
fendants mother) 

Clerk— ""All rise, court is in session, all persons 
having criminal business to attend to in this 
district court, draw near and give your atten- 
tion." 

Judge— "In view of the overwhelming evidence 
given by Patrolman Lebowskiwitz, I have no al- 
ternative but to find the defendant guilty of 
armed robbery, and because of the violent na- 
ture of the crime, I sentence you to not more 
than 40 years and no less than 20 years." 

Woman begins crying— 

""But judge, I need him at home, I'm all alone, 
and I have no one to help me." 

Judge (very stern)— "I'm sorry ma'm, but he has 
committed a crime for which he must pay." 

(Woman begins crying louder as the curtains close 

for the end.) 




Man come talking to me about Nation Time 
Man talking to me 
With a gun in his hand 
A needle in his arm 
And a bottle of wine in his pocket 
_ Talking about Nation Time 
Nation Time 

He can't see his son standing on the corner 
Crying for his mother 
Who's down the block 
Giving out V.D. pamphlets 
To all her victims 
Talking about free the land 

Man come talking to me about Nation Time 

His forefathers were Africans 

But somehow he's a Negro 

Don't even know how 

Needle in his arm 

Wine in his pocket 

Gun in his hand 

Talking about Nation Time 

Don't know why 

Little boy still standing on the corner crying 

Got no where to go 

Never did 

His mother had to go get more pamphlets 

Talking about free the land 



Kamau Madu 
(carl w. griffin) 



13 



"The Mediumly Secured Luv Story'' 



14 



Ronnie looked up from the letter 
he was reading and out through the 
bar cluttered window. He couldn't 
seem to keep his thoughts from 
wandering. He couldn't get his 
emotions under control. This had 
been opening with more frequency, 
each time he received a letter from 
Beth. Love letters, revealing a need 
impossible for him to fulfill. 

"Damn!," he thought, "Why 
couldn't I be there?" 

The answer was there, all around 
him, outside his window, on his 
back, he was in prison. He had 
been there now, for more than four 
years— one third of a twelve to fif- 
teen year sentence. On top of that, 
he had received another ten to fif- 
teen years, to be served after the 
first was finished— the result of an 
appeal made to the higher courts. 

Things were becoming increas- 
ingly worse for him, and now, the 
one thing that ever really meant 
anything to him was becoming his 
worst enemy. 

He returned to the letter, finding 
it slipping from his knee to the 
floor. His right hand shot out, 
managing to snare the corner of one 
page as the other continued its 
journey to the floor. Ronnie 
pushed himself off the bed and 
picked up the other page. A large 
cockroach, obviously female and 
pregnant, made a dash toward his 
locker. He allowed it to nearly 
reach its shelter before bringing his 
foot down and filling the Saturday 
afternoon silence of his room with 
the squish sound. Setting himself 
back upon the bed, he re-read the 
last paragraph of the letter, stop- 
ping to allow the last of it to rever- 
berate in his mind. 

"You are so strong. To cope with 
that vicious place and those sick 
minds takes strength. Nothing 
they have done has broken or de- 
stroyed your spirit. And I consider 
you a prize, cause there are none 
out here like you. The girls and I 
need you. We need you home with 
us." 

Ronnie didn't quite agree with 
her about his strength, at least not 
anymore. In the two years he had 
known Beth, a change had taken 
place. She had recreated him anew. 



He never thought any woman pos- 
sessed the power to change him to 
the degree Beth had. The effect she 
had on him was as unexpected as 
the day she entered his life. Sitting 
there staring at her letter through 
unseeing eyes, Ronnie thought 
back to that Tuesday afternoon. 

It had been an exceptionally hot 
day, and he had been on his way to 
the basketball court, to hopefully 
get in a fast game before the work 
whistle blew. He had worn his 
sweatshirt and was paying the price 
in a constant barrage of sweat, 
burning his eyes and saltmg his 
mouth. It was torture, a torture 
that was self-inflicted. He could 
have worn a T-shirt, like everyone 
else. But he never passed up a 
chance to display some sign of re- 
volt. He wasn't into any militant or 
revolutionary bag. But he remem- 
bered one day, while sitting at a 
sewing machine in the clothing 
shop, how subtle and petty the op- 
pression was in this particular pri- 
son. The institution regulations 
demanded all men wear a blue uni- 
form, with their names written on 
the back in red thread. It all hit 
home one day he attempted to sew 
the seam of a shirt with black thread 
—regulations called for white thread. 
He was charged with "Refusing to 
follow orders," and thrown in the 
hole for five days, with a one-meal- 
a-day penalty. That began his 
clothing revolt. But it was days 
like these when Ronnie had second 
thoughts about his undeclared re- 
volt. Now he walked the quad- 
rangle, continuously swabbing his 
caramel brown face. 

The prison was supposed to be a 
"medium security institution,' but 
it was kind of difficult to believe. It 
was structured like a small college 
campus inside, with eighteen dorm- 
itories—nine on the east side and 
nine on the west. Further back be- 
yond the dormitories on either side 
were two large fields, each capable 
of allowing two simultaneous base- 
ball games. To the north of the 
compound was the school building 
and O.I.C. (officer in charge), be- 
hind it were the shops, where men 
were paid twenty-five cents a day 
to make birdbaths, roadsigns and 
prison clothing. To the south were 



the auditorium, the visiting room, 
the warden's office, and the door 
that lead to the invisible prison of 
society. In the center of all this was 
a small grassed area, much like a 
midget football field, set dead center 
was a short evergreen tree, grow- 
ing unobstructed. The institution 
was surrounded by a chain link 
fence with three lines of barbed wire 
running across its top, and this 
was surrounded by a twenty-foot 
concrete wall, topped by three lines 
of electric wire. Strategically placed 
in each corner, atop the wall, were 
guard towers that housed bullet 
proof glass, one guard and a loaded 
machine gun. This was their idea 
of "medium security." 

Also in the east field area was 
the basketball court. As Ronnie was 
about to make the turn between two 
dormitories, the loud-speaker 
blared out his name. 

"Ronald Barns, return to your 
unit, you have a visitor. Ronald 
Barns. . . ." 

Before they repeated the call, he 
had changed directions and was 
headed back to his unit. He hadn't 
received a visit in almost a year now, 
and wondered who it could be. His 
heart drummed against his chest 
and a river of sweat ran as if from a 
burst dam. His nose itched and his 
legs were wobbly. His mind began 
scanning a list of names, searching 
for the could-be visitor. He knew 
it wasn't his mother, because she 
worked during the week and could 
only come on weekends. His sister 
was out of town. He entertained 
the possibility of it being one of his 
old friends, finally curious enough 
to find out if he was still alive. He 
continued his game of mental char- 
ades until he reached the door of 
his unit. 

Rushing up the stairs to the third 
floor, he removed his sweatshirt 
as he went. Disappearing into his 
room, he quickly emerged with a 
washcloth and a bar of soap and 
went into the community bathroom, 
he would have a poor man's show- 
er. Looking into the mirror he de- 
cided the morning's shave was still 
usable. Rushing out of the bath- 
room and back into his room he 
glanced over the socks in his locker 



and picked a pair of over-the-calves 
black banlons. He dressed like an 
entertainer between sets, then made 
his way down the stairs and out 
the door, snatching up his pass as 
he went. 

The work whistle had blown 
and the other men were on their way 
back to the shops. He dodged and 
weaved between the men, making 
his way for the visiting room. 
Sweat trickled down the back of 
his neck like little bullets as he went 
to his back pocket for a handker- 
chief, but discovered that in his 
haste he had left it behind. He de- 
bated a return to the unit but settled 
for his hand, which wasn't much 
help. 

Coming into view of the visiting 
room windows, he slowed his pace 
and tried, with little success, to re- 
gain some of his lost composure. 
In front of the windowed visiting 
room door, he adjusted the self- 
made hi-boy collar on his prison 
shirt and made sure his creased 
dungarees were all right. He entered 
the short corridor unbuttoning his 
sweater to undergo a search. These 
searches always irritated him. He 
wondered what they had inside im- 
portant enough to smuggle out to a 
visitor. 

Considering a little good natured 
needling, Ronnie decided against it. 
He was more interested in this mys- 
terious visitor, and didn't particu- 
larly want to be detained by some 
fool guard, looking to add another 
lock-up to his record. Not right 
now anyways. 

"Damn!," he thought, "who can 
it be?" 

The guard finished his search 
and Ronnie proceeded on to the 
visiting room. Dropping his pass 
on the desk, he searched the cramp- 
ed room for a familiar face. There 
were none. Walking further into 
the room, he looked over to his left. 
There were two Black women seated 
at ninety degree angles from each 
other. One looked as though she 
could've been one of those Black 
movie actresses. She wore a yellow 
miniskirt and halter, displaying 
smooth walnut skin. The other 
wore loose fitting grey slacks and 
a black sweater jersey. She was 
very appealing in that way only a 
Black woman can be. She wore a 
headwrap and sat as regally and 
dignified as a queen. But, Ronnie 
knew neither. 



Walking in their direction, he 
wished one would give some sort of 
sign that would ease the unpleasant 
confusion filling his mind, but 
neither did. This meant he'd have 
to make the appropriate move him- 
self. 

His palms were sweating and he 
felt irritable. The small fans did 
nothing to cool him. He found him- 
self wishing he were back in the 
shops. 

"Excuse me sisters," he started, 
"are either of you here to visit 
Ronald Barns?" 

The woman in slacks looked up 
at him with an ice-melting smile and 
eyes that looked like dark wells. 

"Yes," she said, "I am," nervous- 
ness evident in her voice. 

Ronnie was glad it was her. He 
had developed an aversion toward 
the movie star type— though they 
were well endowed with good looks 
—they had been proven to have too 
much ego. But this woman seated 
before him just possessed a magnet- 
ism, an inner beauty, that seemed to 
pull at him deep inside, as if he 
were being exercised. He sat down 
across from her on one of the back- 
less benches. Not knowing what to 
say, he produced a lame "Hi." 

Her smile split in half, displaying 
teeth usually seen only in tooth- 
paste commercials. She broke the 
awkward silence and eased Ronnie's 
growing discomfort. 

"My name is Beth," she began, 
"Beth Sumner. Jamil sent me up to 
visit you. He said you don't re- 
ceive any visits. " 

That was an understatement. He 
saw members of his family maybe 
once or twice a year. His friends 
seemed to have cut him loose from 
the very beginning. In reality, he 
didn't receive any visits at all. 

He looked at her smooth brown 
skin, the full lips and nose. Her 
forehead was creased in question. 

"Jamil definitely told you, right?" 
Ronnie replied. "How is he doing?" 

"Fine, " she answered, "he had 
trouble getting himself adjusted at 
first. But now he's working, find- 
ing jobs for other brothers and sis- 
ters getting out on paroles." 

Ronnie nodded his head. Jamil 
was one of the brothers he got along 
with well. He had kept a room full 
of the latest Black books, and was 
a student in the prison college pro- 



gram. His intentions were to go to 
college upon his release, but it cost 
money, so he got a job. Ronnie 
could never figure out what it was 
about Jamil he liked, but he listened 
to him as though he were some 
great philosopher on life. 

It was Jamil, out of all the others 
who had made promises, who fol- 
lowed through on his. But there 
would come a time when Ronnie 
would wish Jamil had done as the 
others. 

When he left the visiting room 
that day, it was as if everything had 
taken on new life and meaning. His 
head was held noticeably higher 
and a feeling of goodness and pride 
shown in his smiling face. He 
rushed back to his room, immedi- 
ately wrote Jamil a thank-you letter, 
and then laid back to savor the 
events of the afternoon. 

Ronnie had had the same effect 
on Beth. Every Tuesday he could 
look forward to a visit from hep, 
and maybe four to five letters a 
week. He found she was 23, unmar- 
ried, and had two daughters, 
Hasani, 5 and Tamu, 6. After her 
second daughter was born, she had 
begun attending various communi- 
ty meetings, and it was at one of 
these meetings she had met Jamil. 

She and Jamil's woman knew 
each other, and Jamil, after seeing 
her several times at meetings and 
noticing the absence of any male 
companion, asked if she'd like to 
visit a brother in prison. She had at 
first been hesitant, but later said 
she would give it a try. 

Pulled back to the present by 
someone calling, Ronnie listened 
closely. The voice called for some- 
one else. It was a drag being on the 
third floor in his unit. It was very 
difficult hearing when you were be- 
ing called. He folded the letter ly- 
ing in his lap and placed it back in 
its envelope. Looking out the 
window he saw two uniformed 
guards escorting a white inmate 
down the quad, heading in the di- 
rection of the separate confinement 
building. 

He thought back on how wild he 
used to be, before he met Beth. Very 
few days went by without some sort 
of disciplinary action. They all cen- 
tered around incidents like the red, 
white and blue shirts, or just turn- 
ing the tables and harassing the 
guards as they did everyone else. 



15 



16 



Sometimes he would just walk tall 
and proud, the guards hated it, and 
would, more often than not, lock 
him up for "silent insolence." It 
never really bothered Ronnie, 
whether he did his time in solitary 
or in population. Besides, it was a 
means of breaking the monotony 
of his humdrum existence. 

But things began to change when 
Beth came into his life. A trip to 
solitary meant he might miss one of 
Beth's visits, or there'd be letters he 
would never see. His relationship 
with her had become the most im- 
portant thing in his life at this point, 
besides trying to get his case over- 
turned in court. 

Leaning over from the bed, he 
pulled a cigarette from the pack on 
his desk, lit it and threw the match 
into the open commode. The room 
was an eight by four coffin, in 
which he slept, studied, entertained, 
and made his calls to nature; living- 
room, bedroom, and bathroom, all 
in one. He slid off the bed and 
paced back and forth in the cramp- 
ed space. 

"This god-damn prison!!! This 
god-damn prison!!!," he repeated 
to himself. 

Ronnie laid down on his bed, 
made to prison specifications, and 
thought back to when the relation- 
ship between he and Beth had taken 
its turn from a friendship to the 
deeply involved, and equally frus- 
trating relationship it was now. It 
was really inevitable. After the ex- 
haustion of ideological discussions, 
they just moved on to things emo- 
tionally closer. 

Beth had been visiting well over a 
year then, and had begun bringing 
her daughters. That particular day 
she wore a banana-yellow pants 
suit and her hair blown-out into a 
large crown of an afro. Hasani 
and Tamu, dressed in small replica 
suits of their mother's, had gone off 
to explore the still incomprehensive 
environment. Their laughter rose 
and fell in little melodic rhapsodies 
through the sunlit room. Ronnie 
wondered if there would still be 
prisons, as he knew them, when 
they grew into womanhood. Would 
they suffer the same agony and 
despair he was sure plagued Beth? 
Would their men leave them and 
their children for greater mobility? 
Would their sons fall prey to the 
self-undoing effects of drugs, or 



the fratricidal life of the streets? 
Would they end up forced to view 
their pasts from prison cells like 
himself? He recalled an article he 
had read of a Black woman, who, 
in this day and age, took the lives 
of her young son and daughter. 
When asked why, she replied, "I 
refuse to subject my children to an 
existence that predestines them to 
sorrow and despair." His thoughts 
were broken as he realized the girls 
had ceased their play and were now 
staring up into his face. A wave of 
embarrassment engulfed him, as 
though they had heard his thoughts. 

Hasani leaned on his leg and 
smiled up at him. 

"Mommy said you're gonna come 
home and be our daddy. Are you?" 
"Are you gonna come live with 
us?" Tamu added. 

Ronnie's thoughts had ventured 
in that area already, but he hadn't 
been sure about Beth. How would 
she respond to having a man who 
could only love her from afar? 
Looking into her dark liquid eyes, 
he knew he would have to speak 
now or never. 

"My case will be heard in court 
soon," he started, "and there is a 
possibility ... I mean, it is time we 
started seriously considering what 
we want and where we can go with 
this relationship. " He noticed a 
flash of alarm cross her smooth 
face. 

"Ronnie, I knew we would even- 
tually get to this point. But it's not 
just that easy. It will be hard on 
both of us." She paused and con- 
tinued, "But I want to share all of 
you, as much as the circumstances 
will allow. I really love you and I 
wonder if we're doing the right 
thing by getting deeply involved." 

Maybe it was that deep rooted 
need for female companionship, or 
the lack of communication with his 
family, or just the drab smothering 
atmosphere of prison life. All he 
knew was he had very Httle resist- 
ance to Beth's charm and woman- 
liness. It made no difference to 
him then because he was happy in 
a way he hadn't been in a long time. 

But it wasn't until now that the 
real significance of what Beth said 
hit home. The constant states of 
depression after reading her letters 
never left him. There was an unre- 
lenting agony of watching her leave 
each visiting period, and wanting so 



badly to accompany her. And then 
there was the paranoia, wondering 
if her nights were spent alone. The 
very things he had once cherished- 
so strongly were now turning into 
his antagonists. 

Ronnie was again made conscious 
of his physical surroundings by a 
knock at his door. 

"Barns," he provided as he 
watched the guard check it off his 
count sheet. He watched the door 
close, leaving him again to his frus- 
trations. 

Getting up from the bed, he 
placed Beth's letter in his desk 
drawer and then went to the sink 
and filled his cup with water. His 
sentence had been upheld in court 
and it was just about certain he'd 
have to serve his time. 

He tried to remember something 
Jamil had said in one of his essays. 
He went through his desk drawer 
and found the copy Jamil had sent 
him. 

"... and lack of communication 

with the outside world leads to 

the creeping despondency that 

attaches itself to your soul and 

fosters fatalistic attitudes. . . ." 

"Fuck Jamil!" he thought. "If it 

hadn't been for him I wouldn't be 

going through these damn changes 

now." 

Sitting down on the open com- 
mode, he leaned against the sink 
and stared at the opposite wall. It 
was filled with pictures cut from 
various Black magazines; Black 
men and women together, with love 
in their eyes. He had put them there 
as his feelings for Beth had grown. 
But they no longer made him feel 
good inside anymore. They were 
only reminders of his severance 
from the community and the woman 
who was inadvertantly causing him 
so much emotional distress. 

Standing, he placed his cup on 
the desk and opened his locker. 
After searching a few minutes, he 
produced a large manila envelope 
and poured its contents out onto 
the bed. They were pictures of 
nude white women in various ob- 
scene poses. He placed a towel 
over the window of the door and 
pushed a chair against it, and then 
spread the pictures on his bed and 
unzipped his fly. It was a temporary 
method of deaUng with frustra- 
tion. 

When finished he placed the pic- 



tures back in the envelope and re- 
turned it to his locker. He then laid 
down on the bed to think some 
more. He thought of the restraint 
he had to use each time Beth came. 
Many times they had sat in the 
visiting room and happened to see 
another inmate either with his hand 
in his woman's blouse or under her 
dress. There were times when he 
had thought of engaging in the 
same type of action, but he hadn't 
wanted to disrespect Beth that way 
so he would return to his room after 
a particularly frustrating visit and 
pull out his skin flicks. 

"Damn!" Ronnie thought. "I 
was in better shape when I wasn't 
getting any visits at all. . . ." Every- 
thing seemed to stand still as though 
they were placed suddenly into 
suspended animation. "That's what 
I have to do," he affirmed to him- 
self. Sitting up, he reached over to 
his desk drawer and pulled out a 
pad and pen and began to write. 

". . . and please don't bring the 
girls, it's best that you come alone." 

He finished the letter and put it 
in an envelope and placed a stamp 
on it. Snatching up a shirt, he took 
it downstairs to the mailbox and 
went outside to make a couple of 
laps around the quadrangle before 
the supper whistle. He felt as 
though he had been shot through 
with new life. 

"It's bad enough doing time with- 
out anyone," he thought, "but if 
I'm gonna have a woman to help 
me out, I have to have total and 
complete access to her. It would be 
too frustrating any other way. " 

By the time Tuesday rolled 
around, he had memorized what he 



was going to say and how he would 
say it. Getting dressed, he went 
over it one last time. 

"Beth, honey, you've got to un- 
derstand that this is in the best in- 
terest for both of us. My sentence 
was upheld in Supreme Court and 
it looks very probably that I'll end 
up doing another five years at the 
least. That's too long for the both 
of us to continue on as we are. I 
can't even function and you're not 
doing much better. The girls need 
all the attention you can give them 
and I can't do anything but hinder 
you. And baby I'll never make it 
through this bit, as long as those 
walls are between us. It's un- 
natural. . . . " 

He switched on the radio and 
looked at his watch. "Damn!" he 
thought. "She should've been here 
by now." 

Lighting a cigarette, he laid back 
on the bed to wait. 

"Man, I'm gonna miss her. Miss 
the girls too. But it's for the best all 
around. I hope she doesn't make a 
scene." 

The radio announcer gave the 
time. Ronnie checked his watch. 

"Damn! 2:45?" He leaped from 
the bed. Visits began at 1:00 and 
he generally was one of the first 
called. 

"Maybe they called and I didn't 
hear them," he thought. "Let me 
go check." 

Rushing down the stairs, he 
found the guard in his office read- 
ing a copy of PT 109. Ronnie hur- 
ried in looking across the desk for a 
possible pass-slip. Sitting up, the 
guard leaned over the top of the 
book. 



"What do you want. Barns?" 

Not wanting to get this guy start- 
ed, Ronnie got right to the point. 

"Have you called me for a visit 
yet, Mr. Pierce?" 

Seeing an opportunity to harass 
Ronnie, Pierce slammed the book 
down and stared him in the eyes. 

"Barns, it's my job to call you and 
let you know when you got a visit. 
When they call me, I call you. And 
I didn't call!" 

Ronnie started to retort but 
thought better. 

"I can't blow this one," he 
thought, "but where can she be? 
She's never been later." 

As he left the office. Pierce sent a 
cynical lear at his back, then re- 
turned to his book feeling much 
better. 

Ronnie returned to his room and 
laid back on his bed. He was tired 
and exhausted from the strain too 
much mind work can produce^ Soon 
he fell off to sleep and didn't wake 
until the supper whistle blew. 

The next few weeks his mind was 
in a state of confusion. He had 
written Beth asking what had hap- 
pened, but he received no replies. 
There were no more visits and by 
the fourth week he was back into 
his old groove; five days in solitary 
confinement for refusing to work, 
and four days for contraband— a 
steak, etc. 

Even though things were back to 
the old routine, there was always 
the question of how things would 
have fared under different circum- 
stances. And on many mornings 
Ronnie awoke to find his pillow wet 
and old memories unbearable. 
Insan Sauti 
(Robert S. Preston) 




Insan Sauti (Robert S. Preston) 



Insan Sauti was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on March 8, 1949. 
He is presently serving a "life" sentence in Norfolk Prison where he is 
Co-Director of the Elma Lewis Technical Theatre Training Program, a 
drummer for the institution band "Astro-Infinity Plus One," and is a 
student of U-Mass, Amherst U.W.W. (University Without Walls) Pro- 
gram working toward a B.A. in Theatre Arts. His first play, "The Install- 
ment Plan," was the recipient of the 1972 Barbedwire Theatre Literary 
Award, and was first published in the Drama and Theatre Magazine. Co- 
Author of the prison anthology "Who Took the Weight?"— short stories, 
plays, poetry and essays, his poetry has since appeared in Zahir, The 
Onyx, Write On, BAD, Hey Out There, and RALSA. He has done several 
public readings around the Massachusetts area and has recently completed 
his first book of poetry, "Makungu"— still in manuscript. 



THE UNITS, OR 












^ERE THEY DORMS? 





1 


1 

i 


^^^^^^ '^^1^^^^ 




r\m 



Mimn 





WHEN THE WALLS BECOME TOO COLD, AND THE 
CLOSENESS OF MY CELL SHOUTS AT ME AND TELLS 
ME THAT I DON'T EXIST ... I TELL MYSELF THAT 
"I AM", AND IN BEING WHAT I MAY, IN ORDER TO 
KNOW MYSELF, I MUST BECOME CLOSER TO MY OWN 
INNER MOTIVATIONS. BRINGING THE NEARNESS OF THE 
WALLS INTO AN AREA OF CONTROLLED AND UTILIZED 
KNOWLEDGE WITH WHICH I UNIFY MY MIND. 

KEETIE . . . 




20 




Yesterday, when the fragrance of 
my peoples' brow became their first river 
of independence we sang songs of freedom 
as we worked in your fields. 

And when you thought that you had raped 

my great race to the lowest point of intimidation, 
we stood up and spoke with what you could only 
term as "sass. " 

And when you wanted us to think that you "might" be 
getting ready to start considering us as "Nee-grows, 
we tore up your cities and told you our names. 

So now you say that in this opportune land of your free, 
you have a plan that will show us how sincere 
you are in helping my people to become 
as equal as you. 

Only this will never do, 

because the taste of salt is still in our mouths 
and the blisters on our feet 

ain't even started to get ready to consider 
thinking about healing 



Keetie 1/18/73 



21 




I LOVE YOU BECAUSE 

You are the one Woman who has hfted my spirit. 

You have instilled in me the will to Live on. 

I seek my solitude in the Comfort of your Arms. 

You are my Beginning and my End. 

You are my Eternity, Infinity, and Utopia. 

Without you, there is no me, no Todays, no Tomorrows, 

or Yesterdays. 
In you I see Our Lives renewed a Billion times. 
When I am beaten and down hearted, you give me 

Hope to strive on. 

After all of this 
I have YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MY BLACK WOMAN. 

Frank (Hakim) Meranda 



22 




HAPPY REMEMBRANCES/PROBLEM FRIENDS 

Yesterday, I was alone 

But I found some friends today 

I started recalling people I knew 

A long time ago 

They filled me with remembrances 

Of lovely moments long ago 

Which today brought me, great affection 

I was alone yesterday. But I found 

Some friends today. 

Though they do not consider me 
The friend I consider them 
And if their hearts do not thrill for me 
The way mine thrills for them 
They will always be my friends! 

Their love for me 

May be just a dimly-lit affection 

I'll try to make my love for them 

Keep glowing on forever. 

Though 1 cannot go near them — just now 

May not I still Love them. 

Charles Bracy 



23 



The Installment Plan 



by 

INSAN SAUTI 

C(5J)yrfght 1972 by Robert S. Preston 



Dedicated to the many Black Men 
who have been forced into Hving 
their Uves on installments. And 

to 

John (Dinky) Elliott, who closed 

out his account permanently— while 

on one of his many visits to minimum 

security. (May Allah put a thousand 

curses on his antagonists. ) 



CHARACTERS 

Kitu (writer) 

Alton 

Kappie (drummer) 

New Man (no name) 

Cardplayer 1 

Cardplayer 2 

Cardplayer 3 

Cardplayer 4 

Guard 

Gerald (Alton's brother-in-law) 

Choker (pusher) 

3 Junkies 

White Cop 

2 Bro. Selling Papers 

Dee (pimp) 

Holly and Susanne (prostitutes) 

Jomo 

Sundiata 

Bobby Lee 

Hasani 

Xiomara and Omawale (dancers) 

Jessica (Alton's wife) 

Isis (Jomo's wife) 



TIME ORDER 

Scene I 
Scene 2 
Scene 3 
Scene 4 



1st month through 4th 
2nd month through 3rd 
5th month 
6th month 



Scene I 
(The curtains open revealing a prison tier with 
seven cells, each numbered in bold black paint above 
each entrance. There is a railing extending the length 
of the tier. On the tier are seven Black men in blue 
dungarees and blue shirts. Four are engaged in a card 
game: they are seated on buckets and have a large 
cardboard resting on their knees. Another man is 
reading a book on the Black experience: he is seated 
in front of cell number seven. And another, seated in 
front of cell four, is busy writing — has papers scat- 
tered all about him. The last man sits in front of cell 



two; he is beating on an empty box with drumsticks. A 
uniformed guard enters from stage left and proceeds 
down the tier, stepping on the writer's papers and 
kicking the drummer's box as he goes. Both men look 
in his direction as he proceeds off stage right then 
return to what they had been doing.) 

CARDPLAYER 2: Boy, that's a sick mutha fucka 
there .... I bet he came all over his self .... perverted 
mutha fucka. 

C.P. 4: (Shuffling the cards.) Yeah, he's the type 
that would get him a whore and beat her with a stick, 
then have her piss in his face. 

C.P.I: Reminds me of when I had my two ladies out 
on the block .... 

C.P. 4: Aw sucka, quit lying .... you ain't qualified 
to turn out a dog! .... That's why you jumped out a 
tree on that bitch and got yourself this bid. 

C.P. 1: Fuck-you sucka .... I didn't jump that 
stinking bitch .... 

C.P. 4: What happened then, she jump you? 

C.P. 1: She gave it up ... . and later on when her 
whitey friends saw us together, she hollered rape .... 
to save her reputation! 

C.P. 4: Then you still a sucka sucka!!!!!!!! 

C.P. 1: Well, how bout you, chump? They say you 
was doing so bad, you tried to take off a grocery store . 
. . . say they found you in the freezer, eating orfttf them 
pre-cooked hams. (Everybody breaks out in 
laughter.) They said .... when the pigs asked . ... (Is 
laughing as he speaks.) .... asked you what you was 
doing there .... you told them that you was the 
security guard! a ! ... ha ha ha ha! Now if that ain't a 
sucka then chicken ain't poultry. (C.P. 1 and C.P. 2 
slap each other five.) 

C.P. 3: Com'on ya'll, play cards . . . ya'll can signify 
later on. (C.P. 4 begins to deal the cards, C.P. 2 is 
looking into C.P. I's hand.) 

C.P. 1 : Hey sucka, get your damn nose out my hand. 

C.P. 2: Shit nigger, the way you be holding that 
mutha fucka, Ray Charles could see it. 

C.P. 3: Com'on man, what cha'll gonna do, run your 
jibs or play cards? My back is sore ... I think I'm 
gonna quit after this game anyways. 

C.P. 4: Well you ain't got long to wait, cuz ya'll 
gonna be leaving damn soon, ha ! (Slams card down on 
board.) 

C.P. 2: (In a whining tone.) Damn man, why you do 
that? You saw I was out of clubs. 

C.P, 3: Say man, no talking over the gaddam board. 
. . . That's what I hate about you niggers . ... (Is cut 
off by the Loud Speaker.) 

L.S.: Alton Shannon, report to the H.M.I.C. Alton 
Shannon, report to the H.M.I.C. (Man in front of cell 
seven stands and goes off stage left. Everyone glances 
in his direction, then returns to what he was doing.) 



24 



C.P. 2: Now where he going? 

C.P.3: Might be going to pick up his walking papers. 

C.P. 4: Walking papers?! Shit, he ain't going no 
damn place. That Lame got a record as long as fifty 
tapeworms, plus he done got hooked up in that Black 
Bullshit. The parole board'll hurry up and turn him 
down. They don't want to hear no shit like that. 

C.P. 3: If he goes anyplace, you can bet it won't be 
for long. (He stretches his arms and yawns.) If "they" 
let him go, it'll be cuz he shows promise of coming 
back .... Got to stay in business, y'know? 

C.P. 2: Say, I heard that Jimmie James is on his 
way back .... 

C.P. 3: Yeah . . . (Yawn.) . . . Bring his two brothers 
with him .... Say they was stretching out to the 
suburbs with their smack trade .... 

C.P. 2; Yeah, them ole rich whiteys didn't dig that 
shit at all . . . When the man came down on 'em, they 
had $250,000 worth of pure dynamite action, plus a few 
shot-guns and 38's. Boy, them lames wasn't jiving. 
(All nod their heads in agreement, WRITER begins to 
put his papers away.) 

WRITER: That ought to tell you something. 

C.P. 4: Here goes that stiff again. Go on, rigor 
mortis, what you got to say? 

WRITER: You keep up that bullshit, you won't be 
around to hear it. 

C.P. 4: Aw man, can't nobody jive with you? 

WRITER: (Ignoring C.P. 4.) That ought to tell you 
where they're really at. They don't give a damn, as 
long as we're messing over ourselves, but the minute 
we think about giving them a taste of their own 
medicine, they jump on us with both feet. 

C.P. 4: Say man, what you saying, it's alright to 
push that shit? (Everyone sits up attentively.) 

WRITER: (Looking at C.P. 4 with disgust.) Man, 
why are you so dumb? I'm saying. Black folk ain't got 
no money, and vou're always talking bout how 
qualified you are to get some .... Then, how come 
you're fooling around where there ain't nothing but 
pennies? . . . like a . . , like a parasite. Why ain't you 
out where the real money is? "Our own money!," 
stolen from us, our mamas and our wives, every time 
we pay taxes, buy furniture, pay rent for them rat- 
traps, or pay twice as much for something that has 
half the quality they say it has .... I ain't saying 
dealing death is right, but, if you're gonna do it 
anyways, why put it on yourself? Put it back on the 
same beast that put it on you. 

C.P. 4: Aw man, I think you losing your mind. This 
time must be getting to you. 

WRITER: Man, why don't you wake up. Them 
whiteys be coming down on the Black Community like 
some kind of blood thirsty vultures .... They be 
drinking us dry . . . y'know what we're like? We're like 
an apple tree . . . everytime we come up with 
something . . . some new apples . . . they run in and rip 
them off. (They start laughing, WRITER looks at 
them angrily.) Man, I'm serious. Name me anything 
somebody Black came up with, and I'll show you 
where whitey co-opted it ... . The vice-president is 
talking bout "getting down to the nitty gritty". . . 
(They break out with a wave of laughter.) ... I don't 
dig Jimmie James' intentions, but, I support the act. . 
. . It's about time we started going out in them suburbs 



getting some of our apples back. . . . 

C.P. 4 : Shit man, with the time them lames is gonna 
get, they can keep them fucking apples. (The others 
laugh and nod their heads in agreement.) 

WRITER: And you ain't doing big time now, fool? 
You ain't doing nothing but life, on the "installment 
Plan." 

C.P. 4: Shit, it's better than doing it straight across 
the board like you . . . You ain't never gonna leave this 
place .... You ain't got no hope. 

WRITER: All I got to do is make a deal with the 
devil and I'll be as good as out! Now ain't that a bitch, 
here it is the twentieth century, and we're still selling 
our souls to the devil.' (GUARD walks back on from 
stage right.) 

GUARD: All right, let's keep the noise down. 

C.P. 3: Com'on, let's finish the game. (WRITER 
goes into cell four. GUARD proceeds offstage left. He 
bumps into ALTON, who is returning to the tier.) 

GUARD: You got a pass, Shannon? (ALTON shows 
him his pass and is ready to leave.) And watch where 
you're going next time. 

ALTON: Man, fuck you! (ALTON walks on. 
GUARD writes something on a piece of paper, then 
disappears.) 

C.P. 2: Say, homeboy, where you been? 

ALTON : I been to the mountain, and saw me some 
streets .... I'm leaving this rat-hole .... Not next 
week, tomorrow, or today, but yesterday. CEverybody 
becomes alive with excitement.) Yeah man, my lease 
done expired, and I'm overdue tjy a day. My case was 
overturned in court and I'm a free man .... I got to get 
my things together. (ALTON hurries into cell seven, 
comes out with a box of miscellaneous items and a 
radio. He walks down the tier to the drummer, who 
has stopped beating on the box, and gives him the 
radio.) It has a hard time getting A.M. when it's 
raining, but otherwise it's in pretty good shape. 

DRUMMER: Solid man, be cool. You almost didn't 
make it this time. 

ALTON: Yeah, Kappie, I know, but I ain't worried. I 
still have some cash left over from my last score. It 
ain't much, but it'll help me get over the hump. It's 
them first few months. If I can make 'em, I'll be okay. 

KAPPIE: You gonna say good-bye to Kitu? 

ALTON: Naw man, Kitu said that he's doing too 
much time to be saying any good-byes .... 

KAPPIE: I can dig it. 

ALTON: Tell him, I'll send him in some writing 
material and try to stay in touch with him .... You 
take care of yourself. (Turns to CARDPLAYERS, who 
have resumed their game.) I'm gonna miss ya'll, 
y'know that? 

C.P. 4: Yeah, home, we gonna miss you too. 

C.P. 1: Say man, if you see my brother out there, 
you tell him that the state don't pay but every three 
months, and ask him what he's gonna do. (C.P. 2 and 
C.P. 4 are discussing something ; they end their short 
conversation with a handshake.) 

ALTON : I don't plan to be on any of them sets, but if 
I see him, I'll run it. (He shakes hands with everyone, 
then exits stage left. GUARD returns, shouting.) 

GUARD : All right, let's get this show on the road . . . 
Com'on, let's go. (He stands and watches as each man 
enters his cell, comes out with a box. and moves down 



25 



one cell, all except for KITU in cell four. When the 
others have moved, they return to the tier and to what 
they were doing. A NEW MAN enters from stage left 
and moves into cell one.) 

(Light recedes into blackness, then rises again. 
NEW MAN comes out of his cell, walks over to the 
card game. KAPPIE nods his head to the MAN as he 
passes by. It is three months later.) 

C.P. 4 : Say, my man, what you bring with you? 

NEW MAN: 10 to 15, armed robbery. 

C.P. 2: You a veteran, or isihis your first? 

N.M.: Naw, I got some time in down south .... A 
couple of small ones on the coast, and on the island. 

C.P. 4: Damn man, then you should feel right at 
home. (C.P. 2 is looking into C.P. 1 's hand again.) 

C.P. 1: Hey sucker! There you go again, looking in 
my muthafucking hand. 

C.P. 2: Shit, as bad as you play, what I got to look in 
your hand for? You just waiting to give up the game 
anyways. Youse a freak for losing. (KITU comes out 
of his cell, walks over to where NEW MAN is stan- 
ding.) 

C.P. 3: (Noticing KITU'S arrival.) Com'on man, 
play cards. 

KITU: All you stiffs are freaks for losing. Somehow, 
we been faked out to think we' winning. . . . 

C.P. 4: (Ignoring him.) Say man, I heard they 
caught Baby Love, backing out a bank with two of his 
whores. Say they wasn't bring in no cash pounding the 
bricks, and Baby Love couldn't support his habit. 
(KITU and NEW MAN go into conversation between 
themselves.) 

C.P. 2: I don't believe that shit. Junkies don't be 
robbing no banks .... They be too busy nodding, plus 
they ain't got the heart. 

C.P. 4: Well that's what the wires say. 

C.P. 3: Probably one of the bitches talked him up on 
it. 

C.P. 2: Yeah, he was probably half in a nod and 
thought they was taking him to the pusher. Ha ha ha 
ha. 

C.P. 4: Hope the muthafucker got some pussy before 
he did it, cause it's gonna be a long time 'fore he cop 
some more. (Everybody breaks out into laughter, 
which is cut off by a loud scream coming from one of 
the other tiers.) 

VOICE: A-A-A-A-A-G-G-G-H-H-H-, lemme out the 
fucking place, oh god, God, God, fuck you too, you 
don't care either. Don't nobody care. Don't nobody 
care .... Git away from here .... Git away from me . . 
. . (Sounds of a struggle.) Help!! . . . A-A-A-A-G-G-G- 
G-H-H-H .... Don't nobody give a damn . . . Don't 
nobody give a danin!!!! (Voice fades out, everyone 
has stopped what they were doing; they are looking at 
each other; KAPPIE begins drumming on box again.) 

C.P. 4: Hey sucker, why don't you give it a break, 
huh? (KAPPIE ignores him, continues to play louder. 
C.P. 4 starts for KAPPIE, but 3 and 2 grab him.) 

C.P. 2: Be cool man 'fore they be taking you out of 
here too. (The three go into cell six.) 

NEW MAN: (Loofes at C.P. 1.) What do you think 
they gonna do with him? (Pointing in the direction of 
voice.) 

C.P. 1: He's going to the /unny /arm .... It ain't 
nothing, dudes be going off their tree all the time. 



Like, you gonna learn, that there ain't but three ways 
out of this joint . . . either you is dragged out like him 
(Points in direction of voice.) or you can walk out, like 
Im'ma do, or you is carried out like Ole Jake. 

KITU: (Had been writing, now puts down pen and 
papers, then walks over to where the others are 
standing.) Yeah, Ole Jake had been down all his life . . 
. from the time he was nine years old ... . That's when 
the State sentenced him to life on "The Installment 
Plan" .... He never stayed out more than six months 
at a time. Finally he caught one big one and died here . 
. . he was 65 then. All his folks were dead, so they 
buried him outside the wall in a little plot of land, kept 
just for that purpose. Didn't nobody care, just another 
nigger the State didn't have to support, anymore. 

KAPPIE: (Stops his drumming and joins the 
group.) Yeah man, don't nobody care. You can rot in 
here. Only thing people there in society care about is, 
they ain't got to deal with you anymore. They don't 
care about what happens once you in here. Sometimes 
I be wishing everyone of their women was raped, 
everyone of their men was offed, and everyone of their 
children got a heroin habit .... 

C.P. 1: (Chuckles to himself.) Man, wouldn't that be 
a bitch? 

KAPPIE : Sometimes I'm really bitter, like now, but 
the reality of the situation makes you that way. ... Do 
you know why I'm here? Huh? They snatched me up 
for playing my drums. (NEW MAN looks at him in- 
credulously.) Yeah, they P.V.ed me cause it looked 
like I was gonna make it. 

NEW MAN: You mean all you did was play drums, 
and they pulled your papers? 

KAPPIE: Damn right. Said I was violating my 
parole by being in an unconducive atmosphere. I tried 
to tell them suckas, that I been playing drums all my 
life. . . . since I was four. . . . Man, that's all I know. 

KITU: The parole system is full of shit! It's like 
letting a horse out to exercise. . . when you think he's 
been out long enough, you put him back under lock and 
key. . . irregardless of whether the horse wants to be 
locked back up again. . . . You are the master!!!! 
Naw, they don't give a damn about a man at all. I 
know, I've been down twelve years and I've seen a lot. 

NEWMAN: Twelve years??.'.'.'.' Who'd you kill, the 
president's cousin?? 

KITU: Naw man, it happened when I believed in 
amerikkkan justice, and the righteousness of the 
beast. I got high one night. . . I was going with this ole 
white girl at the time, we got to beefing and I knocked 
her in the jaw. . . she pressed charges and I ended up 
with assault with intent to rape, assault with intent to 
murder, intent to rob, and assault and battery. . . . 

NEW MAN: Boy, my daddy always said, "Son, a 
white woman ain't shit, she's out for pleasure, and 
when it is over, so ain't you. " But I can understand the 
bullshit charges they put you through. . . but most of 
the time. . . you end up doing only part of the time. . . . 
How come you been down so long?? 

KAPPIE: (Cutting off what KITU was about to 
say.) Cuz the brother got a lot to go with, and them 
pigs don't dig that at all. They say he ain't leaving til 
he break — like everyone else, and he ain't 
breaking! ! ! ! 



26 



C.P. 1: And he's dangerous to be around, they'll be 
thinking that you are like him. Com'on, let's check out 
what them guys is up to. (C.P. 1 and NEW MAN leave, 
KAPPIE and KITU watch them go.) 

KAPPIE: Well, there goes another one. 

KITU: I don't know, he listened, and that's the first 
step. I remember when you first came in. That was the 
first thing that set you away from the others. . . . 

KAPPIE: Yeah, well you have more faith than I do. 

KITU : Or maybe I'm just a little better at disguising 
my despair. (KAPPIE nods his head in agreement.) 

KAPPIE: Yeah, maybe you are. (They fall into 
silence.) You heard anything new on Alton? 

KITU: Naw, last I heard, he was having a pretty 
hard time. 

KAPPIE: That's what I heard too. (Pause.) Do you 
think he'll make it? 

KITU : I don't know, he's been out about four months 
now. ... If he can make it past the six month point, 
he's got a good chance. But that's the hardest point. 
(Uniformed GUARD enters from stage left with 
brown paper bag. He enters cell six, when he comes 
back out his hands are empty. He proceeds off stage 
right, sneering at KITU and KAPPIE as he goes. They 
shake their heads in frustration.) Say, did you hear 
anything 'bout one of those Black Centers being raided 
by the pigs? 

KAPPIE: Yeah, they say it was full of women and 
children when it happened. 

KITU: When are we gonna wake up? I mean to the 
point where we will do something. . . . (C.P. 4 comes 
out of cell six scratching.) 

C.P. 4: Say man, ya'll ought to cop. . . . Oh, that's 
right, ya'll don't be messing with no stuff. (Sits down 
on one of the buckets.) Y'know, this bid wouldn't be all 
that bad if we could stay high all the time. . . . Yeah. . . 

(Goes off into a nod.) 

KITU: Look at him! We's freaks for losing. (Kicks 
at the air.) Man, if we would only open our eyes and 
just (oote. . . . (Shakes his head in despair.) I'm tired 
brother. . . I been down too long and I got battle scars 
all over my soul. ... I be just watching as these 
brothers be popping in and out. It's like watching the 
same old movie over and over, 'cept the cast is always 
changing. . . . (Shakes his head as if to clear it.) I feel 
strange, like something deep inside of me is saying 
I'm not gonna make it. 

KAPPIE: Aw man, don't worry 'bout it. If any- 
body's gonna make it, you will. . . . (Voice blares out 
over the loud speaker.) 

VOICE: Ronald Seller! Ronald Seller! report to the 
H.M.I.C, Ronald Seller! Ronald Seller! report to the 
H.M.I.C. (C.P. 3 comes out of cell and goes off stage 
left.) 

KITU: (Shaking his head in despair, his hands are 
beginning to tremble.) The same ole same ole time 
and time again. . . . Man. . . . Man. . . . 

KAPPIE: Com'on, Kitu, get yourself together man. 
. . Don't let them get you too. (KAPPIE puts his arm 
around KITU'S shoulder.) 

KITU: (Seemingly oblivious.) If I could just be out 
there one more time. . . . Man, do you know what I 
would do for a home-cooked meal. . . My mother died 
after I was down seven. . . . (He begins shaking uncon- 
trollably.) 



KAPPIE: I think you better lay down awhile. . . . 
You need some rest. (KAPPIE takes KITU into cell 
four, then comes out and goes into cell three. A long 
scream is heard from cell four. KAPPIE rushes back. 
The screams continue. KAPPIE'S voice can be heard 
between screams.) 

KAPPIE: Com'on man, you'll be all right. . . . You 
strong. . . . the baddest brother in the joint. . . . com'on 
Kitu, they can't break you. . . com'on now. . . . (One 
exceptionally long and loud scream is heard. Lights 
fade to darkness.) 

Curtain 



Scene 2 

(Curtains open. Lights come up on street scene. 
There are four buildings standing next to each other, 
between the first two is an alleyway. The first building 
is a run-down, three story tenement with a large rat on 
the second floor window sill. There is a pusher stan- 
ding in front. The second building is a modern high- 
rise building; there are two neatly dressed brothers 
with papers under their arms; they are in con- 
versation with each other. The third building is a night 
club with a large sign over the entrance that reads 
"Shilte Lounge". There is a man, extravagantly 
dressed, with two tall and very beautiful black 
women, one is wearing a mini and the other hot pants. 
The woman in hot pants hugs the man as he receives 
money from the other niini-skirted woman; she puts a 
lump of bills in his hand, he looks at them, slaps her in 
the face and puts his hand back out again; she digs 
down along the waist of her skirt and produces more; 
they all walk into the lounge. The last building is a 
store front with a large sign that reads "Uhuru 
House". A Black woman enters from stage left; she is 
adorned in African dress. She enters the building. 
Lights fade out into darkness and rise on the three 
story tenement. A junkie has come out of the alley- 
way; he is shabbily dressed. He walks over to the 
pusher and is copping, when a uniformed Pig walks 
by, purposefully looking in the other direction. The 
junkie cops, then goes off through the alleyway. 
ALTON is seen entering from stage right wearing 
work clothes and carrying a lunch pail. A young Black 
man comes out behind him, calling his name. It is 
GERALD, ALTON'S brother-in-law.) 

GERALD: Al, hey, Al. (ALTON stops, looks back 
and waits for him to catch up.) Say man, when d'you 
get out? 

ALTON: Been out 'bout two months now, beat them 
on a tech. 

GERALD: (Enthusiasm evident in his voice.) Shit 
man, you home free then, no strings attached. What 
you planning on doing? (Continues on before ALTON 
can answer.) I see your man around a lot. He's doing 
gooder than a muthafucka. . . got him a few whores 
y'know, and they taking good care of him. 

ALTON: (Showing surprise and disbelief.) Who you 
talking 'bout, Dee??? 

GERALD: Hell yeah! He's killing them. Got money 
coming in all kinds of ways. (ALTON shakes his head 
in disgust.) Dig it, Al, I know you don't dig no woman 
making your money for you, and I was thinking, since 



27 



your main man done went and changed up on you. . . 
y'know. . . if you need a partner, I got some joints lined 
up; maybe me and you can get down together, 
y'know? 

ALTON: Naw, Gerry, Im'ma try to straighten up, 
y'know. . . (He lifts lunch pail, GERALD looks at it 
disdainfully.) Besides your sister would never get off 
my case, if I brought you out. . . (Pause.) Ain't you 
suppose to be in school? (GERALD looks down at the 
ground.) 

GERALD: I quit school. They don't wanna teach 
nothing anyways. They use to pay me to take the day 
off and go to the movies. Now I done out-grown movies 
and school. (He looks back up at ALTON, life returns 
to his voice.) Anyway, damn it, you ain't got to let 
Jessi know. Com'on, Al, these is big money money 
joints. (They begin walking, PUSHER steps over in 
front of them; he has jewery all over and is in all 
pink.) 
GERALD: Say, Choker, what's going down? 
CHOKER: (Flashing money.) It's coming in good, 
baby. Wanna cop? 
GERALD: What'cha got? 

CHOKER: Smoke, bombers, coke, hashish, and the 
big one, and I don't mean Bud. . . (Both break out in 
laughter.) 

ALTON: He don't want nothing, so keep stepping. 
(ALTON goes to walk on, but CHOKER steps into his 
path.) 

CHOKER: Say, don't I know you from somewhere? 
(Pause.) Yeah, you did some for the State, right?. . . 
right, I remember you. . . was real evil, didn't fuck 
with nobody and didn't let no-one fuck with you. 

ALTON: I see you ain't learned nothing from your 
stay. . . . 

CHOKER: (Looking ALTON over.) Course I 
learned something; I come out knowing how to get to 
the money twice as fast. . . . (Looking at ALTON'S 
attire.) You the one look like you ain't learned nothing. 
ALTON: I learned to respect myself and my people. 
. . . And I supporting nobody's death trip. . . youse a 
parasite, living off your own people's misery. ... A 
foul, low-lifed bloodsucka! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

CHOKER: Watch your mouth, sucka. . . .(Smiles.) 
Besides, if I wasn't doing it someone else would. Shit, 
it ain't like I'm forcing them fools to shoot that shit, 
they wanna do it, and I wanna live right. You can say 
we have sort of an agreement. I take care of their 
Jones and they take care of mine. Here comes one of 
my business associates now. . . . (Another JUNKIE 
has come on stage from the alleyway. There is a short 
rap; then CHOKER is on the JUNKIE, shaking him. 
ALTON drops his lunch pail and grabs CHOKER, 
pushes him away, and goes to help JUNKIE up. 
GERALD looks on incredulously. CHOKER is on 
ALTON, he turns, hits CHOKER in stomach, 
CHOKER falls and curls up. JUNKIE looks down at 
CHOKER then up to ALTON, says in a whining tone:) 
JUNKIE: Damn man, why you wanna do that? The 
dude would have straightened me out when it was all 
over, shit, now I might not cop. (ALTON puts his hand 
on JUNKIE'S shoulder, is about to speak. JUNKIE 
pulls away.) Git your hands off me, muthafucka, you 
done made me blow! (ALTON goes into CHOKER'S 
pockets and comes out with a handful of small 



packets; he gives them to JUNKIE who rushes off 
through the alleyway.) 

GERALD: Ga'damn! Al, what they done did to you 
in that place? You know that's bad business. Why you 
come down on that dude like that? Everybody got to 
make a living, you can't knock a man for that. Wait 
till you out here a little longer, you'll see. . . . 

ALTON: Listen, Gerry, I said I'm going straight! 
Now if you got any sense you'd get your ass back in 
school and try to get out of this rat trap! ! ! 

GERALD: Fuck school and fuck you too. . . . Stiff. . . 
I use to look up to you, thought you was really 
something big. Know what I think? I think you lost 
your heart. . . I think you left it back there behind them 
walls. (GERALD turns and goes off the way he came 
on. ALTON looks after him, then he picks up his pail 
and proceeds on. Lights dim on tenement and rise on 
the modern high-rise. ALTON is confronted by two 
BROTHERS selling papers.) 

1ST BRO: Excuse me, brother, buy a copy of our 
latest edition? (ALTON stops, looks down at papers, 
then up at the BROTHERS, goes into his pocket and 
comes out with some change.) 
ALTON: How much is it? 

1ST BRO.: Twenty-five cents, sir. (ALTON looks 
up at the BROTHER strangely, sorts out the right 
change and gives it to him. He is about to move on, 
when the BROTHER interrupts his departure.) 

1ST BRO.: Excuse me, brother, would you be in- 
terested in attending one of our meetings? 
ALTON: When are they? 

2ND BRO. : Monday and Tuesday evenings, brother. 
ALTON: Hmmmm, I don't know. . . don't get much 
free time these days. (Uniformed COP returns, 
walks over to where ALTON and the BROTHERS 
are standing.) 
COP: All right, keep it moving, no loitering. 
ALTON: (To the BROTHERS as he is moving on.) 
Listen, if I'm in the area I may check it out. (ALTON 
moves on. Lights slowly dim on high-rise and come up 
on lounge.) 

2ND BRO. : You didn't get the address. (ALTON has 
moved on to the next set; he is looking behind him and 
bumps into a tall Black WOMAN in mini.) 

ALTON: Oh, excuse me. (He looks her up and down. 
She is a nice looking woman, youngish looking. She 
looks ALTON up and down, smiling. She is a 
prostitute. There is music coming out of the lounge 
behind them.) 

WOMAN: Think nothing of it, honey. My name is 
Holly. 

ALTON: Yeah, nice to meet you. (He goes to walk 
around her but she steps into his path.) 

HOLLY: Where you rushing to? Don't you want to 
talk to me? (MAN comes out of the lounge wearing a 
green wide- brim hat, white and green knit slacks, 
white shoes, and has rings on all his fingers; he is 
wearing dark shades.) 

MAN: Better move on. Baby, ain't nothing there. 
My man has a strong dislike for whores. (He makes a 
motion with his head for her to leave. She walks down 
to alleyway and disappears. . . . MAN looks at ALTON, 
looks him up and down, shakes his head.) Damn, man, 
what happened to you? How long you been out? 
ALTON: I should be asking you that. What hap- 



28 



pened to the big money you was gonna send me when 
you spht? (Cuts him off before he answers.) Never 
mind, I don't even wanna hear it. Youse a jive M. F, 
you know that, don't you? 

DEE : Aw, Al. I was gonna send it. I was. 

ALTON: (Ignoring his remark.) I heard you done 
started pimping. Was she yours? (Points in direction 
HOLLY went.) 

DEE: (Pushing out his chest.) Yep! Had her five 
months now. (A tall and very beautiful Black WOMAN 
comes out of the lounge. She has a large Afro, is 
wearing a white short-sleeved sweater-blouse, red and 
blue hot pants, and high tie-up white sandals. She 
walks over to DEE, reaches into her purse and gives 
him a handful of crumpled bills, is about to leave but 
DEE grabs her arm.) Stick around, bitch! I want you 
to meet my Main Man. (Looks at ALTON.) This is 
Susanne, been with me 'bout a year now. Biggest 
money-maker in town. 

ALTON : Man, you done really sunk low. . . . 

DEE: (Look of amazement on his face.) Say man, 
didn't you hear me? I said they's the baddest bitches 
in town. . . on the whole coast. . . Can't nothing with a 
hole bring in as much as they can. . . . What you 
talking 'bout I sunk 

ALTON: I'm talking 'bout your respect, fool! She's 
a woman, not a horse or some slab of beef, sold to the 
highest bidder. . . . You didn't do the time I did. . . But 
let me tell you something. While I was in the joint, I 
had a chance to find out what a woman can really 

mean Man, like, she becomes gold. (ALTON is in 

a trance-like stare, engrossed in his own words and 
thoughts. Meanwhile DEE has sent SUSANNE back 
into the lounge for cigarettes : he looks back at ALTON 
who is still rapping.)U you ain't got a friend in the 
joint, it don't make no difference, as long as you got a 
good woman. . . . Everytime she write, telling you how 
much she love you, it makes you feel like you can take 
on every screw in the joint. You ain't got to come out 
no funny bag on her, you can be yourself, . . . 
(SUSANNE returns with cigarettes. She opens the 
pack, places one in DEE'S mouth, then lights it, and 
puts the pack into his coat pocket. DEE is considering 
ALTON who is now finishing up his rap. ) . . . and when 
she comes up to visit, and she has the kids with her, 
you be feeling like there ain't nobody out in that 
visiting room as happy as you. (He smiles to himself.) 

DEE: Al, I know Jessi, and she's a dynamite bit. . . 
woman. But, most these bitches ain't like that. Like, 
take Susanne for example, if I was to pull some time, 
she'd be in another nigger's bed, before the State had a 
chance to re-outfit me. . . . 

SUSANNE: (Wrapping her arm around his waist.) 
Daddy, I wouldn't do that. 

DEE: Shut-up bitch! But, anyways, that's the way 
things go out here. . . cop and blow. . . Today you got 
it, maybe tomorrow you don't, but if you got anything 
on the ball, you can always cop again. 

ALTON: Yeah man, but if you treat a woman like a 
dog, she gonna start acting like one. 

DEE : Man, you can't let up on them for a minute, or 
you is liable to blow. . . . You have to keep the pressure 
on. Hey man, how else am I gonna survive out here, I 
need money, and I ain't gonna pull no slave time for 
whitey in some sweat shop. How I'm gonna keep by 



Rado, or my wardrobe? (He looks at ALTON'S clothes 
and shakes his head from side to side, then looks down 
at his own and smiles.) All this takes money to keep 
up. . . you know that, man. 

ALTON: Dee, you know that ain't the only way to 
get next to some cash, plus half the shit you be 
spending it on ain't even worth it. . . (Looks DEE in 
the eye. ) You ever think of saving some of it? 

DEE: (Incredulously.) For what?! What I want, I 
need now, not tomorrow, next year or ten years from 
now. I wants my money quick, fast and in a hurry-up, 
and I got me two of the baddest bitches in town to get 
it for me. (Puts his arm around SUSANNE.) 

ALTON: That's another thing. ... I remember when 
we was running up in them joints, how we swore never 
to depend on no milk-toaters for our money, cause that 
was a faggot's way of getting it. 

DEE : Yeah, well I did some deep thinking and found 
out what a fool I was. 

ALTON: How much of a fool you was???? 

DEE : Yeah, man, the thing is, to get to the money. 
Damn how you do it. Just get it. 

ALTON: (Shakes his head in frustration.) Damn, 
man, brothers is changing up all cross country. . . . 

DEE : Wait a minute, Al, I don't wanna hear none of 
that Black bullshit, cause them niggers ain't doing 
nothing. Got them young ladies down there 
freefucking! ! 

ALTON: Is that suppose to justify what you're 
doing? You hiding behind something as flaky as 
that?? Man, you're really down to rock bottom. 

DEE : Say man, in this life you do what you got to do. 
(HOLLY returns, gives DEE some money. He looks at 
it, counts it and looks back at her, slaps her across the 
face, then puts his hand back out. HOLLY reaches into 
her blouse and comes out with a few more dollars. 
DEE counts it, nods his head in satisfaction. 
Uniformed COP walks by, noticing nothing. Both 
WOMEN walk into the lounge. DEE turns back to 
ALTON who is looking on in disgust. He shruggs his 
shoulders and begins to rap again.) Did you know that 
Slow Willy is back on the bricks? (ALTON shakes his 
head no and mumbles something under his breath.) 

DEE: What? 

ALTON: Nothing. I locked on the same tier with 
him. All he did was play cards all day. What's he 
doing? 

DEE : Little bit of everything. Got a after hour joint 
over on Suffolk St., does some dealing for the 
gangsters and has a couple of whores on the side. Got a 
light Jones too. 

ALTON: He'll be going back. (Silence for a few 
seconds; ALTON looks at his watch.) Listen man, I 
got to split else I'm gonna get fired. I'll catch you 
around. . . and think about what I said. 

DEE : And here's something for you to think about. . 
. . There's plenty of bitches out here, just waiting to 
cock their legs and bring daddy some scratch, and 
they ain't no dog bitches either, they's sho'nuff /oxes. 
Now when that eight hour grind gets to grinding at 
your ass, you think about that, cause the money is big 
and easy and I know you qualified to make the most of 
it. (He turns and begins to walk towards the lounge, 
hollering back over his shoulder.) Like the "Tempts" 
say: "Think about it, Think about it. Think about it." 



29 



(ALTON watches him till he disappears into the 
lounge. Lights begin to fade out slowly on lounge and 
come up on store front. There is a group of Black 
people coming out of the store front all dressed in 
African garb. ALTON turns and looks in their 
direction. He begins walking towards them. They are 
chanting, "Uhuru Sasa au vita", over and over. One 
tall man, wearing a multicolored fez and a full length 
African robe walks up to ALTON, gives Black hand- 
shake. He is JOMO.) 

JOMO: Jambo ndugu, my name is Jomo, Jomo 
Mau. (He points to the others. There are three women 
and two men, one who is wearing black leather jacket, 
black shirt and pants. He is leaning against the 
building, watching, as the sisters practice an African 
dance step.) That's Sundiata Chaka, (Points at the 
other brother, dressed in a dashiki and slacks. He has 
a bald head.) and the sisters are Omawale, Hasani, 
and Xionara. We run this place here. (Points at 
building and notices brother standing there.) Oh! 
that's our Antagonist Non-Solutionist, Bobby Lee 
Johnson. (BOBBY LEE hollers over.) 

BOBBY LEE: If you got any sense man, you'll keep 
stepping, 'fore they launch you off to dream land, 
along with them. 

JOMO: (Smiles.) Bobby's a demolition expert. He 
could level this country in no time, but he can't think of 
anything to put in its place once he's through. Per- 
sonally, I think he feels something for us and what 
we're about, cause he is here every day. I think deep 
inside he knows the necessity of educating our people 
first. 

SUNDIATA: And that's what we're about, "Putting 
something in our peoples' heads so, they may build as 
well as destroy. Build for self!" 

JOMO: That's why we have this place here. This is 
our Freedom House, our freedom school, where Black 
children and adults may come and get their heads 
together; it's a community center, where Black folk 
can "be" together. The whole emphasis is placed on 
"Pamoja" which is togetherness. (One of the sisters 
leaves the group dancing, and comes over to where the 
men are speaking.) 

HASANl: Jambo wadugu! 

JOMO AND SUNDIATA.- (Together.) Jambo, Dada 
yangu ! 

ALTON: Hi! 

HASANl: (Looking at ALTON, smiling warmly.) Do 
you have children, Ndugu? 

ALTON: Yes, two sons. 

JOMO: Ahhhh, two warriors. . . Simba . . . That's 
where our futures lie. In them, is our future liberation. 
. . the liberation of the nation, our nation. We must 
prepare the way by providing them with the proper 
education and skills. Sister Hasani, here, has charge 
of our nursery section. Children are very important in 
our struggle. Even Choker, down the street, doesn't 
want his son to push drugs for a living. 

ALTON: Hupph! He doesn't present too good of an 
example. 

BOBBY LEE: (Who has walked over to where they 
are standing.) Somebody ought to make him an 
example. . . . Like blow his head off. . . . We been 
plagued with dumb niggers long enough. . . You can't 
be nodding on the battlefield, in a time of war. We been 



sleep long enough. . . that nigger is useless. 

SUNDIATA: Well, maybe he's right, this time, but, 
we got enough with whitey killing us off. . . ain't no 
need to give them no help. 

JOMO: Listen, brother, why don't you bring your 
simbas down here, and maybe stop in yourself. We 
don't claim that what we have is the thing, but it is an 
alternative to the other mess that isn't getting any- 
body anywhere. 

ALTON: I might, it sounds pretty good; but I doubt 
if I could make it too often, like, I'm a working man 
now. (Holds up pail.) 

JOMO: Yeah, I been digging. 

ALTON : Just got out the joint, a couple months ago, 
been trying to make it out here legit, y'know? 
(SUNDIATA, BOBBY LEE and HASANl have 
returned to the other group. BOBBY and SUNDIATA 
watch on as HASANl is shown the new dance.) 

JOMO: It ain't easy, brother; I've seen a lot of 
brothers come out, and not make it. They find that 
without any skills or education, they get the dregs of 
employment. And if they have a family to support, it's 
really hell. 

ALTON: Yeah, I'm so hip. 

JOMO: Listen, brother, if you ever need any assis- 
tance, just drop on by. That's what we're here for. 

ALTON: Solid, I'll remember that. . . uh. . . . 

JOMO: Jomo, Jomo Mau. 

ALTON: Jomo. (He smiles, waves good-bye to the 
others, and is moving on, when uniformed COP 
returns. ALTON goes off stage left. COP stops at the 
group, says something and gets into a big argument. 
All the BROTHERS and SISTERS have surrounded 
him. Lights dim, then fade to blackness.) 

Curtain 



Scene 3 

(Curtains open. Lights come up on living room 
scene. There is a modern Jiving room set — a couch, 
one reclining chair, and another — there is a stereo hi- 
fi, a dining table, and two pole lamps. There is a win- 
dow directly center up stage. Beneath the window is 
the couch, on either side, the pole lamps. At stage 
right there are two doors, in between the doors is a 
chair, beside it is a small night table with a telephone. 
At stage left there is one door; beside it, coming down 
stage is the recliner, then the stereo hi-fi. At center 
stage sits the dining table and four straight-backed 
chairs. Over the couch, on either side of the window is 
a large picture of Malcolm and one of Garvey. Over 
the hi-fi is a large African shield crossed by two 
spears. The lights lower. There is jazz on the stereo. A 
knock at the door, stage left. A medium-height Black 
WOMAN with natural hair, rushes from door directly 
across from it. ALTON enters wearing work clothes 
and carrying lunch pail, has newspaper under his 
arm. He grabs the WOMAN and gives her a long kiss; 
then falls down into recliner.) 

JESSICA: What was all that about? 

ALTON : Because, the colder it gets out there, the 
more I enjoy coming home to you. 

JESSI: Yeah, well I wish you would remove your 
home-loving behind out of my recliner till you put on 



30 



some decent clothes. 

ALTON : Queen Mother of Black Gold, your slightest 
wish I humbly obey. (He bows low with a sweeping 
arm gesture.) 

JESSI: No, my lord and master, it is I who submit 
totally to your strength and wisdom. O King of Kings. 
Warrior of the Universe. Unconquerable Black Man. 
(ALTON stands and stretches his arms out to her.) 

ALTON : Ours is a love of shared rewards. ... My 
queen ! 

JESSI: My king! (They embrace and ALTON 
kisses her in a pecking manner; they separate laugh- 
ing.) 

ALTON: (Pickinguppail from the floor.) Where are 

the kids? 

JESSI: Out in the yard, playing. Oh! That man, 
Jomo Mau, was by here again today. (ALTON goes 
through door leading to the bedroom. JESSICA goes 
back to the kitchen.) 

ALTON: (From the bedroom.) Yeah, what'd he 
want? You'd think he'd be ashamed to show his face 
around here again, after what he did. 

JESSI : All he said was, he had to speak to you, and 
he would be back later. 

ALTON : Well, I got some things I want to say to him 
anyways. Any mail today? 

JESSI: I was hoping you would ask. . . . Just some 
heavy bills. Seems like no sooner do you pay them, 
then they asking for more. (ALTON enters the living 
room again, has changed work clothes for inexpensive 
shirt and slacks. Crosses over to the recliner and picks 
up bills and begins reading them. He shows signs of 
becoming more depressed with each one he reads. The 
telephone rings. ALTON gets up to answer it.) 

ALTON: Hello? (Looks around the room appre- 
hensively.) What'd I tell you bout calling me here, 
what if Jessi had answered? I don't care what you got, 
I got problems too. . . . 

JESSI: (From the other room.) Who's that. Honey? 

ALTON: (Reflexively hiding the phone.) Nobody, 
Baby, just some wise guy. (Back into the phone.) .... 

Dig it man, I'll see you tomorrow tomorrow! 

Damn it!! (Slams phone down, and just stands. 
Children can be heard playing. There is a knock at the 
door. ALTON walks over and opens it to JOMO and a 
tall Black WOMAN in full-length African dress. She 
has her hair wrapped. JOMO is wearing Dashiki and 
slacks.) 

JOMO: Jambo ndugu! (ALTON, anger evident on 
his face, doesn't reply.) Well, aren't you going to let us 
in? (ALTON steps aside and they both enter.) 

ALTON: (Closing the door behind them.) You know, 
I ought to knock you in that fool head of yours. 

WOMAN: Excuse me, ndugu, is your wife home? 

ALTON: (Pointing to the kitchen door.) Right 
through that door there. (ALTON watches as she 
goes.) 

JOMO: (Who is taking a seat at the table.) She's my 
priestess, Isis. Named after one of the Egyptian God- 
desses. . . . There are very few more dedicated than 
she is. . . . Dedicated to me, our children and our 
people. . . . 

ALTON : Was she there when the place was raided. . 
were your kids there. . . were youthere? 

JOMO: Come here, brother, sit down and let me 



explain something to you. (ALTON comes over, seats 
himself, and JOMO continues.) Now first off, no, my 
young ones were not there, nor was my wife. I was.'. . . 
. Okay now, I can understand your anger, you thought 
your young warriors would be safe, which they were. . 
. . (ALTON tries to say something.) Wait a minute, 
wait a minute. . . I just want to get this straight. . . . 

ALTON: Straight my ass, what about that damn 
arsenal you people. . . . 

JOMO: Brother, you can't be believing all that junk 
them white folks be running 'bout us. They didn't find 
nothing but a .22 rifle and some .38 bullets. Man, you 
know they don't want to see Black folks making any 
kind of positive steps. They down on us cuz, we for 
real! 

ALTON: (Jumping up and walking over to the 
window.) But man, don't you know I lost my job 
behind that shit?? 

JOMO: How am I suppose to know? You haven't 
been around since it happened. I been by here twice, 
and your woman hasn't said anything about it. 

ALTON: That's because she doesn't know, yet. 

JOMO: How are you making it? (Looking 
inquisitively.) 

ALTON: Lm making it. 

JOMO: (Rising out of his chair.) Listen, if there is 
anything I can do. . . . 

ALTON: (Wheeling around.) I said I'm making it!. . 
. . Now I don't need any- of your help, the welfare's 
help, or. . . . 

JOMO: Brother, I'm not talking about pity, ap- 
parently you think I am. I'm talking 'bout com- 
munalism. . . . brotherhood! 

ALTON: It's all the same. Besides, it was your, so- 
called, brotherhood that got me in the jam I'm in now. 
(Sits in recliner looking at the ceiling.) 

JOMO : Brother, you got an attitude, and you're not 
thinking. (Walks over and stands over ALTON.) We 
about blackness and getting all our people in a position 
where they can do for themselves. Only way we can 
succeed, is by helping each other. Now if you need 
some assistance. . . . 

ALTON: (Jumping up out of the recliner.) Man, get 
out. . . . get out my damn house! (JESSICA and ISIS 
rush in from the kitchen.) 

JESSI: Honey, what's the matter? (Stops in-be- 
tween the two men looking from one to the other. ISIS 
goes to JOMO'S side.) What is going on here? 

ALTON : Nothing, Baby, my man here is just getting 
ready to leave. (He opens the door and stands there. 
JOMO sends ISIS through first and stops in front of 
ALTON.) 

JOMO: Brother, I can't figure you out. You're not 
the same man I met three months ago. (He shakes his 
head.) This is a vicious*world, and the man that tries 
to make it on his own, is doomed to fall, somewhere 
along the line. (Heads out the door.) I wish you all the 
luck in the world, brother. (ALTON slams the door 
behind him.) 

JESSI: Honey, what's the matter? I've never seen 
you blow up like that before. What did he say? 

ALTON: It wasn't nothing. 

JESSI: Nothing! ? Your hollering and screaming all 
over the place, you throw them out of our house, and 
say nothing is wrong. Al, you've been .acting strange 



31 



ever since that thing happened. Is there something 
else, that you haven't told me about? 

ALTON: Listen, Jessi. . . . (Phone rings; ALTON 
rushes to pick it up.) It's your mother. (JESSICA 
takes the phone and ALTON goes into the bedroom.) 

JESSI: Hello, Ma. . . fine, fine. No, I didn't, what 
about Gerald?. . . armed robbery?. . . when, who?. . . 
Alton? Are you sure. Ma? I mean, he's doing so well on 
his job, there isn't any need to. . . . fired? Oh no!. Yes, 
Ma, I'll call you back. O.K., bye now. (JESSICA 
stands there for a few seconds, turns to go into the 
bedroom, then stops; ALTON is in the doorway; they 
stand looking at each other, neither speaking. 
JESSICA walks over to the table and sits. She puts her 
head in her hands and begins to weep.) Why, Al? You 
were doing so good. . . (ALTON walks over and puts 
his arm on her shoulder.) 

ALTON: I tried, Jessi, I really did. But they make it 
so hard on you. Com'on, Baby, don't cry. (Tries to 
wipe tears away with his hanky, but JESSI pulls 
away; he puts hanky back in his pocket and sits across 
from her.) Listen, Baby, just hear me out, O.K.? You 
got to do that for me. (She nods her head, wiping tears 
away with her hand.) 

JESSI: All right, Al, I'll listen. 

ALTON: First of all. Baby, I love you, more than a 
junkie love his stuff, and I wouldn't hurt you or the 
kids for nothing in the world. Now if you can't under- 
stand and believe that, then there ain't no sense in me 
going on. 

JESSI: I believe you, Al. 

ALTON : All right. . . . Now you remember when the 
last of that money ran out, right? (Nods her head yes.) 
Well, I told you then, that we had to get more money 
than I was making on my job, if we was gonna survive. 
Well, I was gonna try to get a raise from the boss, but, 
before I got around to asking him, that incident 
jumped off down at the Center. 

JESSI: But what did that have to do with your job? 

ALTON: Wait a minute. . . . Now, you know the kids 
were in there. So, what happened was, them pigs 
called my job, talking 'bout they wanna see me. They 
ran the whole thing down to my Boss. He didn't know 
that I was an exconvict, plus he don't dig Black folk, 
too tuff. So when he found out about it, he fired me. 

JESSI: When was that? Why didn't you tell me? 

ALTON: Cause, Baby, that ain't the kind of thing I 
want to come back and run to you, especially with 
your mother constantly on your back, saying I ain't no 
good, and I'm doomed to failure. (Bangs hand on the 
table and walks over to the window, looks out and 
begins pacing the floor. ) Anyways, I tried a lot of other 
places and didn't come up with anything, so I got down 
with your brother. . . . But I tried. Baby, I really did. I 
didn't want to go back to the joint. ... All I wanted to 
do, was be with you and the kids. Even that ain't easy 
to do in this society. 

JESSI: But if you had told me, I could have gotten 
you a job in one of those agencies. . . . 

ALTON: As whaf A janitor? I ain't got no half 
decent education. Anyways, just the thought of my 
woman getting me a gig messes with me inside. 

JESSI: Listen, Al, I'm not going to run out and tell 
the world about it. It's not too late. (She gets up from 
the table, runs over to him, grabbing his arm. . . he 



looks down at her sadly.) 

ALTON : It is too late. Baby. (Pulls away and rushes 
into the bedroom, returns with an old M-l rifle, stops, 
looks at JESSI. CHILDREN are heard crying.) 

CHILD 1: Mommy! Mommy! The devil is here. . . . 

CHILD 2: They's not the devil, they's the pigs. 
(There is a heavy fall of feet in the hallway. . . loud 
banging at the door. . . a voice is heard.) 

VOICE: Okay, Shannon, open the door, it's the 
police. . . Com'on, we know you're in there. . . (Con- 
tinuous banging.) 

ALTON: (Looking at JESSICA.) Go get the boys. 
(She hesitates.) Go on, damn it! (She rushes out 
through the kitchen. The hall door is beginning to 
shake on its hinges. ALTON checks the chamber of the 
rifle. Lights begin to dim and fade out. A single shot is 
heard, followed by a heavy barrage. A long scream 
front a wonian. . . then silence.) 

Curtain 



Scene 4 

(Curtains open. Lights come up on prison tier, 
showing a man leaving. There is a guard shouting at 
the others. "Let's get this show on the road". Each of 
the men enters his cell and returns with boxes. They 
all move down one cell. No one moves from cell four. 
After they are finished, they return to the tier, all lean 
on railing and rap. A new MAN enters cell one.) 

BRO. 1: I think somebody was in my cell while we 
was out exercising. I'm missing some socks. 

BRO. 2: What! Some socks? Who the hell wants 
some damn state socks. I been noticing that about you. 
. . you always accusing someone of beating you out of 
something. . . . And the thing that gets me is, you ain't 
got nothing! 

BRO. 1: Fuck you, Sucka. . . . 

BRO. 3: Why don't ya'll freeze that shit. (Looks at 
BRO. 2.) You beginning to sound like Clifford. 

BRO. 2: Wait a minute, don't be comparing me with 
that crazy fool. I'm trying to get out this muthafucka. . 
. . (All break out in laughter except the two men in 
front of cell one.) 

BRO. 4: It ain't funny. Sometimes I get to believing 
that shit he was running. . . . Shit, I'd like to do a little 
fucking up in this country my damn self, but I know I 
ain't in no position to be talking 'bout, not here. And I 
don't dig the idea of the dude doing all that time. Hell! 
I liked the man. But evidently he didn't like himself. 
All he had to do was quit running his jibs so much, and 
shit, he'd have been out this place in no time. . . . Shit, 
naturally if I got you locked up and you talking 'bout 
offing me, I'mma make sure you rot there. . . and the 
dude wasn't supid or anything. That Black bullshit 
couldn't get him nowhere, and never gonna get nobody 
nowhere. . . . (Everyone drops into silence, each 
engulfed in his own thoughts.) 

BRO. 1: Say, remember that dude that use to be 
reading all the time? What was his name now? 
Gaddamn! .... It's right on the tip of my tongue. . . . 
(Everyone is looking at him.) He went out about six 
months ago. . . beat them on a tech. . . . 

BRO. 4: Oh! You talking 'bout Alton, Alton Shannon. 
. . . Was in for armed robbery. . . . 



32 



BRO. 1: Yeah, yeah. ... I saw him today. He's back 
in with a new one. Shot it out with some pigs at his 
crib. . . . say he downed three and wounded four. 
BROS.: (All together.) Gaddamn! ! ! 
BRO. 4: Boy, ole homeboy wasn't jiving. Um, um, 
um. (The two men standing at the end of the tier hurry 
over to where the others are standing. One is KAPPIE 
and the other is the new MAN.) 

KAPPIE : What was that about Alton? What hap- 
pened? 

BRO. 1 : Say he downed some pigs at his crib. He got 
kind of shot up himself. . . plus they put a hellfired ass 
kicking on him at the station. 

KAPPIE: What brought the pigs down on them in 
the first palce? 

BRO. 1: Remember all them banks that was getting 
ripped off awhile back? (KAPPIE nods his head.) 
Well, that was Alton and his brother-in-law. . . . Alton 
got to doing bad, and went back to what he knew best. 
BRO. 4: Yeah man, and he sho'nuff did it up right. I 
Know he was getting big scratch. . . . 
BRO. 3: How'd he get flagged? 
BRO. 1: Oh, round the time he first got out, him and 
Choker got into a beef. . . . 
KAPPIE: Who you talking 'bout, the pusher? 
BRO. 1 : Yeah. Alton wasn't one for pushing that shit 
or pimping to tuff, so anyways, he got into this thing 
with Choker and made a fool out him. 
Choker got plenty salty behind it. Kept hollering 'bout 
payback. . . . 
BRO. 3 : Yeah, that sounds just like him too. 
BRO. 1 : So he was squatting in Jackie's After-Hours 
and Gerald. . . . 
KAPPIE: Who's Gerald??? 

BRO. 1 : That's his wife's brother. A young dude, use 
to deal for Choker. So Choker's squatting, and Gerald 
comes in flashing, y'know?. . . . They must've just 
finished taking the place off, cause Gerald was loaded 
down. He got to drinking and smoking and running his 
jibs. Choker got an earful and run to the man on them. 
Well, they got Gerald with no problem, he was fuck- 
up. .. . But Alton was at his crib, and when they came 
to get him, he got his wife and kids out the back door 
and commenced to set fire to their ass. 

BRO. 2: Yeah, well it's gonna be a long, long time 
'fore he get out this muthafucka again. . . . (Looks 
around at BRO. 4.) Which reminds me, gimme my 
money, sucka. 
BRO. 4: Get the fuck out of here. 
BRO. 2: Say man, come on now, get up my damn 
scratch. You made the bet and lose. . . . (BRO. 4 looks 
around at the others, they are all looking at him, he 
looks down. BRO. 2 looks around at the others who are 
looking at him, also.) 

BRO. 2: Man, muthafuck you lames. I'd have put 
odds on ya'll too. 

BRO. 3: That's not putting odds, muthafucka, that's 
a fucking jinx!!! Man, youse a low-lifed dog 
muthafucka. 
BRO. 2: Man, don't be running that bullshit to me. 



Take it out and fertilize somebody's field. . . . Can't 
none of you stiffs stay out a hot second and now you 
gonna pretend you concerned. . . . Ya'll be offing each 
other, beating each other, ratting on each and now you 
gonna say something to me? Shhhhiiittt, tell it to that 
sucka that got ya'll bobbing in and out this mutha- 
fucka like a gaddamn yo-yo .... (Turns to BRO. 4.) 
Get my money, nigger, six cartons. You know what 
brand I smoke. (Goes into cell five. BRO. 4 goes into 
cell seven, comes out with several cartons of cigar- 
ettes, enters cell five. BROTHERS on the tier watch; 
then 1 and 3 turn and lean on railing.) 

BRO. 1 : They say Little Dash got raped over on nine 
tier. ... I told him to stay away from so-called 
heavies.. . . but! That dued is hard-headed. 

BRO. 3: We all are at times. . . wonder what his 
brothers gonna do when they hear bout it. 
BRO. 1: What can they do bout it? 
BRO. 3: Yeah, guess you're right. (KAPPIE and 
new man head down the tier.) 
NEW MAN: Boy, niggers is foul. 
KAPPIE: It ain't the niggers, man, all they doing is 
what they know best. It's this system, this society, and 
them whiteys. They the ones that be forcing us into a 
position where we got to be living like parasites.. . . 
Look at that brother Alton. All he wanted to do was be 
with his wife and kids. He didn't really care nothing 
'bout how Black he was, or how many whiteys he 
could get to say nice things about him. All he wanted to 
do was to be left alone to raise a family and be com- 
fortable. He had changed up or wanted to, but they 
won't even let a man do that. Kitu use to say, "If we 
can't help ourselves, then we in bad shape, cause ain't 
nobody gonna help us." He really wanted to see us get 
it together. He use to rap about taking brothers as they 
came through and turning them around and sending 
them back out there with something on their minds. . . 
But dudes had to live too, and that's where the whole 

thing fell through Everything is against us, courts, 

police, employers, storeowners, landlords, city of- 
ficials, and the majority of them is white. . . . And little 
whitey is worse than them on top, cause he's 
struggling too, and he's gonna block us at every turn. 
To keep us from getting what he ain't got. ... So you 
hit the streets and from there, you begin your down 
payments on the Installment Plan. . . . (There is a loud 
crash from off stage left. ALTON enters limping, and 
carrying a change of clothes and other small items. 
Everyone looks at him sorrowfully as he walks over to 
cell four, hesitates, then enters. A muffled scream can 
be heard from cell five. BRO. 4 rushes out with a 
blooded knife. Seconds after the scream the loud 
speaker can be heard, "All inmates return to your 
rooms for the count," repeats over and over. From off 
stage someone hollers, "Please don't, com'on, man, 
don't do that." Some continual laughter. As lights 
begin to fade, so does all sound. Everything is black 
and silent, then one exceptionally long scream is 
heard.) 

Curtain 



33 



ii 



DID WE REALLY LOVE?" 



34 



I read your poem . . . while doing my bit 

And I'm sorry to hear you're having a fit 

So consider my reality as I run it down 

To acquaint you neighbor . . . with my part of the town 

A home, a family, and you for a wife 
I aspired a job to make secure your Ufe 
But deep down inside morals you lack 
Always praising some brothers' cadillac 

Your momma taught you to play on your man 

Rob him daughter of everything you can 

But my daddy was cool; he weren't no lame 

So I copped him a spoon and he taught me the game 

Don't lie to your self; you could have been my wife 
But you preferred the glamour ... of an evil, fast -life 

Wherever we would go your eyes would flash 

Digging hogs . . . and brothers spending cash 

I had no wardrobe— this, you made others to know 

By knocking me one weekend, after snorting a heavy blow 

I loved you baby and didn't want to blow 

So I had to get down and make you my ho 

It took some effort ... to tighten -up my new game 

But after wining -and -dining . . . you had your street -name 

My Cadillac car and diamond rings 

Never meant to me anything! 

It was you who had contracted an impatients -flu 

To play and lean ... in a blue on blue 

And the money that I taught you . . . how to make 

Is stashed and invested in my future's stake 

Because of you, I lost respect and my pride 
Now you want to be home, at someone's side 
Both of us are to blame ... for playing the game 
Our children suffer no guidance and name 
So I toss them a ten, every now and then 
To alleviate the guilt ... of sharing your sin 

Miss lady, miss lady, now that you know 
I'll call you a cab ... so that you can go 
Miss lady, miss lady, I must, however, say 
Both of us deserve ... a brighter and better day 

By Larry C. Thomas 
(To continue. Part 2: "Let's Love Baby") 



■>■» 



''4*9, 



\tiL\ 







Acknowledgements 

The Drum Staff would like to thank the following people for their con- 
tributions to this issue. 



For their art work: Clyde Santana, pages 3 and 8; Rama Amen Ra, pages 
10 and 23; Nelson Stevens, page 21; Naomi Beam, page 22; Lonny Powell, 
page 35 donated by Charles Key; page 13 author unknown (Brother at 
Norfolk). 

Also to Larry Thomas (a Brother at Norfolk) who brought Norfolk to 
our attention by answering a poem that appeared in our Women in Prison 
issue— Vol. 4, No. 2, page 38. 

Special thanks to Dr. Johnetta B. Cole of the W.E.B. Dubois Depart- 
ment of Afro-American Studies and Steven Bengis of the University Without 
Walls Prison Program for enabling Drum to gain access to Norfolk Prison. 



And Mel Smith for his help and guidance. 

Last but not least the many Brothers at Norfolk who made this issue 
possible. 



36