The Prison Poet By Edward Garza
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Size: 8.5 x 11
Artist Bio: This is my first time submitting for this exhibition. I have been incarcerated since 1977. I was arrested at the age of 19, and I am currently 46 years into a life without parole sentence, held hostage by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Poem “The Prison Poet” by Edward Garza:
The gift of apostasy was in his poetry
Sentences that resembled bare bones
The long yellow grass whispering on the surrounding hills – trembling
His flesh free of gnawing teeth and wardens
The moon painted him in regal shadow
The varied smells of Oakland stained his skin
His lyrics spewed forth with Mau Mau fervor
The harmless guests gasped from their chalky existence
Tucked dutifully into bed each night
While he cruised the naked night
Seeking out the sound that bled from his jailed mind
Staccato lyrics were gathered in his breast
He is a man!
He is a man!
Black as the dawn tainted with burning smoke
Stained with memory
His words hurled from an ancestral skull deep in time
Like gold or diamonds gouged from blackest Afrika
A consuming fire forged his chains
His soul molten with fury
He danced his words
And they gasped
Stirred by the cunning of the unquestionable
That he is too beautiful to behold.
Image description: This acrylic on paper focuses on an aged Black man in prison blues squatting on the floor of a prison cell. The cell is dark and bare except for a small, barred window set high into the wall through which can be seen the black night sky and a portion of a full moon. The man’s head, shaved clean of any hair, sits atop a gracefully extended neck, the face turned up to the window, eyes closed. The man’s elbow rests on the thigh of his bent leg and in his hand he holds an orange album cover decorated with “MILES DAVIS” in black and a black man in a purple suit playing a trumpet. The expression on the man’s face is one of recalling a fond and distant memory.