Update from Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, Unit J-2, Cell #12

PLOD - Poetry Life or Death
6 min readMar 5, 2019


Update from Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, Unit J-2, Cell #12

It’s been a while since my last post. However, in my own defense, ‘your honor,’ I have a reasonable explanation. I’m a working man again. Yup, prison dun gone and made an honest man out of me. Let me out today and I’ll be heading up the PTA Committee meet & greet at Dave & Busters tomorrow. I have to say based on the current state of affairs here in the U.S. I often feel safer behind bars with this rag tag group of murderers, rapists, armored truck robbers, bank robbers, stick-up kids, drug dealers, drug users and other deplorable members of society.

Have you ever been reading local news online, or, if you’re 65+, a newspaper, and after finishing an article about a particularly heinous crime said, “Good, I’m glad they caught that (fill in the blank here), I hope they throw the book at em!”. Well, so have I. I used to say it a lot. And now, after sitting in this melting, societal, gutter rat (sewage stained) septic tank, I understand just how wrong I was when I cast judgement with scepter from throne, well, I use to call it my throne but it was actually a $23 Wal-Mart Deluxe Folding Camping Chair.

All I’m trying to say is — in fact I’m begging you to consider — when it comes to a human being’s life, no matter how straight forward the facts in the news may seem, please reserve your judgement for the trial. Prisoner’s talk a lot of shit about the criminal justice system here in the U.S., but I defy anyone to find a better system of justice that handles the volume of cases (and criminals) that our justice system handles here in the U.S. You always here intellectuals refer to Europe as a model for criminal justice in the world. Maybe Germany, France or even Britain, but their entire criminal justice system handles a fraction of the criminal cases stacked up on the desks of judges, public defenders and D.A.’s here in the United States.

I understand a lot of people would disagree with that remark. Maybe call me a traitor for sitting behind the wall and sharing such sentiment. But, I’m simply calling it like I see it coach. I’ve lied so many times, why not tell the truth for a change.

Enough of my ramblings & pre-pardon prison postulations. Here’s what’s up with me and SBCC. I’m currently working as a barber for the entire prison. There’s normally three full-time barbers working here. For the last two years there have been three full-time barbers. I get hired and one barber leaves for Shirley-Medium and the other one has an enemy issue. Now I’m the only barber cutting a lot of heads every week. I don’t want to ring my own bell but I’ve become a beast with the clippers. We’re talking 15 minute fade-perfection. Please put the $50 bill on the counter and grab a breath mint on your way out. Oh yeah, with that haircut your getting some cutty in the club tonight. Bring it back to the A-T-L (old skool).

As Bill Murray once said, “So I got that going for me.” The movie was Caddy Shack. Bill was talking about caddying for the Dali Llama. “Big hitter the Llama.” After the round the Llama said to Bill, “There will be no money son (for caddying), but on your death bed you will receive total enlightenment.” It’s been years since I’ve seen that movie. When Rodney Dangerfield’s drunk at the country club dinner…he bumps into the old woman, shivers and says, “Now I know why tiger’s eat their young.”

I’m currently reading, “The Scourge of God,” by S.M. Stirling. Book 5 in the Novels of the Change Series. Stirling’s description of the natural world is so exacting, yet you can tell it’s entirely organic. No pun intended. As if it grows from the roots of his/her (I’m ashamed to say I don’t even know Stirling’s sex and I normally make it a point to get to know my authors) wild imagination. Pun intended. The fighting and story line are well written and offer a lot of intrigue, but the whole witchcraft-nature thing is a-maze-ball-z.

I just finished reading, “An Unquiet Mind,” by Kay Redfield Jamison. Want to talk about a fascinating woman. Kay’s a self-diagnosed manic depressive. But, her manic states are the stuff of uber intellectualism and motivated genius. Reading and discussing this book with a bunch of inmates who have no empathy for a privileged white girl/woman with mental health issues was a learning experience. As a young black man in my class said, “There’s no psychologists in the hood. We’re taught to hide how we feel from a young age.” According to the black members of our group, of which there were 10 out of 15 members, the only head shrinker’s (their term not mine) they ever spoke to showed up after they were arrested. One kid in our group is manic depressive and all he said was, “This bitch is full of shit and I’m not reading this book.” He’s actually a really smart young man, but he’s going through a, “black people suffered more than anyone else ever in annals of world history,” period. He learned how to read in prison and now it’s all he does. But, of the hundred or so books he’s read, 98 of them are about the plight of the black man. Have you ever heard the saying a lot of knowledge makes you a wise wo/man, but a little bit of knowledge makes you dangerous. My man’s in the danger zone. But, good for him, I’d rather have him reading and thinking the whole world is against him than not reading and thinking everything’s fine.

Middle aged and older white women have so much guilt about racism. They’ve been harboring this guilt because of racist thoughts they’ve had, or racist jokes they shared, back in the 70’s, 80’s & early 90’s. We get all these volunteers here in prison. Young, old…men & women, but the middle aged and older white women basically verbally trip all over themselves trying to devise a strategy about how to apologize to black inmate about how they were racist in some way, at some point in their lives. It’s weird in a way. As if they’ve been waiting for a safe environment to say this ever since they locked the door of their car b/c a young black male was walking by as they were parking, or one of their colleagues cracked a racist joke at the water cooler and they laughed as long, and as loud, as everyone else. Maybe they were walking in the park one night and a group of young black men an women walked by and they held their clutch a little tighter to their bodies. Whatever the situation, our middle aged and older male volunteers don’t apologize. And, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, but may I just say this, “Get over yourself!” Black men and women don’t give a shit if you had a racist thought 15 years ago. They know you did. They already know that. If you want to make of up to them listen intently to what they have to say now and change the way you think.

Do you think more black people steal than white people? Do you think more black people own guns, commit crimes, and do crazy shit than white people? Well, then you’re the crazy one. I’m in a jail populated by 2/3rds black men and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the reason there are more black men in here than white men is racial profiling. You can’t change hundreds of years of suspicion overnight.

Damn, there I go, postulating again. Such an abrupt change of subject also.

What else is going on? Well, we’re locked-in today. An inmate got stabbed on the North side. I was talking to one of my fellow inmates about it and he said, and I quote, “I don’t know why we’re locked-in for this shit. Nigga’s die everyday on the street, so what?”

And that’s why we’re in here. How do I explain to that 30 something year gangbanger that his attitude’s antisocial and he lacks sympathy for his fellow man. This is a man who watched his best friend drown in his own blood from a gun shot wound through his chest.

Well, besides all the heavy shit I’m dumping on you life’s click-click-clicking along. The winter’s almost over and I can smell spring through February snowflakes.

Until we meet again. Go St. Paddy’s Day (here’s to Saint Dismus) and Happy March Madness (or something like that).

Your Friend & Fellow Convict,

Brian Knippers

If you want to write me a letter, I’d love to hear from you.

Brian Knippers
P.O. Box 8000
Shirley, MA. 01464

Thanks for all your emails, letters & support. It means the world to a poor, lonely, deeply regretful convict trying to change his life.



PLOD - Poetry Life or Death

Musings from an incarcerated dyslexic. Poems, Reviews, Essays, Flash Fiction, Short Stories and other random Lit from behind the wall.