Dan Grote, December 2013


The start of another month. I’d like to say this month will be different from last month, but it won’t. The monotony is unfathomable. I just totaled it up, and I read 21 books last month. That’s down from my 24 monthly average! I submitted a short story and some poems to a few different literary journals. That’s really all I’ve accomplished. It’s something at least, I guess. Still haven’t heard from or been able to talk to the kids. I got to start eating better.


What a start to the day. Almost got into a fight over a chair! A chair! I have to remember this isn’t the penitentiary. I have to wonder if I’ve always been like this or if this place made me this way. How can you be rehabilitated in an environment that turns you into a predatory animal? I’m trying to do all I can to better myself but things keep drawing out the bad. Maybe that’s all there is. I hate the holidays. Nothing jolly or merry in this place.


Got lazy and neglected to journal this weekend. Was finishing a short story. I think it turned out well. Sitting around waiting for the Bears game to start. Oh, and I got a strange request. One of the guys in here wants me to pretend to be Santa Claus when he calls home and talks to his 4 year old grandson. That should be interesting.

Just made the Santa Claus call, what a blast. There were three kids I ended up talking to and I was told I made their day. Maybe I’m not a total scumbag.

Michael McKinney, January 2014

It has been a long while since I last wrote something for the Prisoner Express Journal Program. I had somewhat slacked up on my pushing my pen on the writing tip. But once again I am back at it. And for the 2014 the New Year that is right around the corner, I will be pushing my pen so much stronger on the writing tip. Because I really do love writing. It’s an old song from back in the days by a group called the Atlantic Star, and some of the words to that song say I found the masterpiece in you, the work of art is true. Well I feel the same way about writing or may I say about my writing. I have found the masterpiece in writing, and the art of writing is true. My writing really do help me survive being locked down in this one man cell most of the day. My writing bring out the best in me.

Dennis McGuire, January 15th, 2014


I have long hoped that God has a sense of humor when it comes to me. I had better hope that He does. You have seen me write some incredibly irreverent things about God in these Journal Entries, but I hope none of it has been blasphemous or mean-spirited. I’m sure God is aware when I mis-use His name with the word “damn” attached to the end of it. He knows I know better. But if we accept the fact that He created us in His image, with His characteristics, we must assume that He, too, has a sense of humor and that he laughs (or chuckles, at least) at some of the funny stuff we come up with. Did he laugh at Johnny? How bout at Bernie Mac? What about Seinfeld reruns? I hope so. And I hope that as He has kept an eye on me over the years that He’s at least chuckled, and maybe closed His eyes and shook His head at my humor and my jokes the way Mr. Hedges did that night in 12-building when he realized where my “theory about dominoes” joke was headed, and says to his Son on the throne next to him there: “That old bastard comes up with some crazy shit sometimes. I’m gonna have to zap him someday. But I can’t help but love him.”

Paul Pommells, January 24th and 25th, 2014

Fri 1-24-14

I am feeling excited. If nothing goes wrong between now and tomorrow morning I will get to see a visitor. My girlfriend is coming to see me.

This will be the first time we’ve seen each other this year. The last time we saw each other was in September, four months ago. Can you imagine what it takes to keep a relationship going when you only get to see your loved one 3-6 times a year?

We live off of 15 minute phone calls twice a week and letters. I wish I could give her more. She deserves the world. If my book becomes a success and the 3-Judge Panel releases me, I will be able to give her much more. That’s my prayer.

9pm Sat 1-25-14

Today I had the most magical visit ever. I set with my girl from 9am- 3:15 pm. We laughed, talked, kisses, hugged, gazed in each other’s eyes, held hands, played scrabble, ate together and prayed.

I’m still under the spell.

William Earl Hill, “Christmas Wish List”

Christmas Wish List

Every year at this time I am reminded of the letters to Santa I used to write when I was a child. Those were the real good ol’ days… at least for me. All I had to do was be a kid, look adorable (harder than you might think) and ask for any and everything that would make me happy and improve my already ideal existence.

Listening to some of the talk in here makes me think that more than one of them have been sending letters to their own personal Santas. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get some of the things in here that would make my life a little easier or a little more enjoyable, like a radio or a typewriter or the ability to go to commissary. Nothing wrong with having things or even wishing for them.

Hopefully, I have matured enough over the last 18 years of incarceration to realize the truly important things in life. I would love to see peace reign in here instead of the chaos and violence that usually resides inside these cellblocks. How wonderful it would be to live on a cellblock where friendship and cooperation exists instead of the enmity and selfishness that’s here now.

Yes, I know that people have been wishing for peace on earth and goodwill towards men since the angels announced the birth of Jesus all those long years ago. This year instead of wishing everybody else would change, I am going to make a commitment to try and live in peace with everybody and do at least one good deed for somebody each and every day.

Instead of wishing as I do every year not to be moved next to a “cell warrior” or psych patient” (Okay, I’m still wishing not to be moved next to either one), this year I’m going to try to be a better neighbor to those around me. To not be loud and boisterous when the rest of the section is trying to sleep or when it’s quiet. To basically be the type of person that I would want to have as a neighbor.

Instead of wishing that the guards would come to work in good moods or not to take it out on us when the aren’t, I am hoping to be a little more tolerant and not to just give the same attitude right back to them.

Okay, I’m not going to lie. I am still wishing for better trays. I have almost gotten used to the taste, or rather, lack of taste of the food in here. I know that there are children in the USA and around the world that go to bed hungry everyday and I hope and pray that world hunger would end, but I wish that hunger would end in here also.

I know that most people don’t know that most prisoners go to bed hungry almost every night if they aren’t lucky enough to be able to go to commissary, but it’s true. I hope this coming year that they will finally start putting enough food on the trays to keep us through the night.

If I was going to ask Santa for something entirely for myself I would wish for a penpal/ friend. I am so lonely and I really need someone to talk to sometimes. I know that this is prison and it is supposed to be punishment and not easy but doesn’t everyone deserve a friend?

Most of all, I wish for everyone at Prisoner Express to have a very merry Christmas with all their friends and loved ones, and a Happy New Years. Season’s Greetings Y’all!!!

J.S. Slaymaker, Spring 2013

March 11th, 2013

I was listening to one of the programs they have on from time to time about the inhumaneness of capital punishment. And the leader in this is always some asshole who spent a few years on death row until they got their case overturned. To be innocent and having your case overturned is one thing: it means you go free. But I see this as no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water. No one, of course, ever speaks of it, but I wish someone would show me the humane treatment in making a person spend 40 or 50 years in prison. Those do-gooders need to just shut up. They don’t know what they’re carrying on about.

There are fates worse than death.

April 23rd, 2013

R. and G. both moved this evening. Not far, just a section or two over. I’ve know R. for quite a few years now. I’ve lived around him several times and probably will again before its over. Regardless of what lies some people tell themselves in the end we are alone down here. We can live next to each other and be “friends,” but we both know at some point one of us is going to have to leave. That’s just part of doing time. It’s still weird, slightly unsettling, even, when you or someone you’re cool with moves. We invest our time in those people we regularly associate with and when they leave they take pieces of us with them. Maybe not large pieces, but pieces still; even when we know we will most likely see them again. All part of doing time.

Gotta run. They’re kicking door on 2-row.

Paul Pommells, January 9th, 2014

Today I found out that another friend got a parole date. His eyes were bloodshot red from crying as he told me, “Paul, the parole board found me suitable today.”

That’s wonderful news and I’m happy for him. He asked me when am I going to the board. I had to tell him that I am not scheduled for another 18 years.

He tried to cheer me up. He said, “Well, you know things are changing.”

That’s true. This past year three of my friends who had life sentences were found suitable by the parole board. That wouldn’t have happened ten years ago. Things like that give me hope.