Monday, May 25, 2015

William Myrl, Letters to No One (15-5-20)

Dear No One,
W&L University has created a short course for their students about poverty and how it relates to incarceration. The twist being that they would take the course alongside real life inmates. The memo went up months ago, a paragraph was to be submitted explaining why you wanted to be in the class, no mention was made of the students who would be participating. I knew several people who applied, and but a single one succeeded. I duly produced a paragraph, and in true Myrlian fashion, it was done in rhyme. It flew about as far as my 10th grade writing test. Why is it that fusty administrators and proctors do not appreciate my sense of humor and facility with flippancy? Do they sense my derision? Surely not, when it is so well hidden. In any case, I was quite put out when I found out there would be girls there. REAL LIFE GIRLS! I would have done any amount of dissembling for the DCE principal, who was handling the applications, if I had known that. My buddy, who was more earnest than I, would have a 50-50 spread on there being two X chromosomes across the table from him. We will call him Jark from here on out.
Jark and I understood from the outset that the only actual reason we could have for wanting to be in the class was on the off chance we could inveigle a pen pal out of the thing. Sadly, the experience would be vicarious for me. There were several anticipatory weeks before the class began. There was also another short essay to submit. When the day finally arrived for them to be assigned partners, Jark got a nice boy named after an archangel. It was a start.

I heard about some of what was spoken in the class, read some of the material, as well as his journal entries. The paired students, apodictic and inmate, wrote about topics of the class and there impressions, shared them with each other. The final project was a speech. I helped Jark edit his.
The experiment was a mere four weeks of class when it began for true. A few months ago Jark and I worked together on a poster to hang in the J4 hallway, where the GED classes are held. I helped for two reasons, the first; that I like Jark and it was his project, second; a Hail Mary attempt at getting a job. I have been applying for tutor positions for two years, more now, and cannot get one. I have experience from another institution. For whatever reason it isn't working for me. As a result of Jark's support, and the poster effort, I was told I was hired as soon as a position opened. That teacher announced her retirement at the end of the month. Another teacher left two years ago, she hasn't been replaced yet. And then there were three.
Saturday, Jark came to my door and said, "You know, we should have done a poster for them to take back with them." I was drawing at the time, and I threw my pencil to the end of my bunk, looked at my watch and said, "Damn it, how much time do we have?" Six days, as it turned out, until the class is over. We brainstormed that night, began a rough draft the next day. He had smuggled out ample poster sized paper before his teacher retired. When we started, his portion wasn't coming out very prettily. Also, I think the vision of madness and despair I was spewing out over the top half of the paper at an alarming rate was not in line with what he wanted for the project. He gave up, or seemed to, for a day or so. I continued to work in true maniacal spirit, morning to night until it was finished on Monday. By this time he had gathered himself for another effort, Escher inspired, all straight lines and precision, not my thing. I was ready to help with that one after he signed his name to the first, along with another buddy of ours. Tomorrow the class ends, but there was more time than we thought. The professor is coming back without the students to give inmates who took the class their grades and possibly a stirring talk. Then he will strike. Not one but two posters of opposing style, my deliberately cheesy feel good poetry on each, tying them into the theme of the class. The idea being that she might post one or both of them in her real classroom and that maybe a girl would see our names and write one of us. The tangled webs we weave. Of course, I will be putting my website on there. My true purpose. Jark’s poster is impressive, he put a day in a half into outlining a visual illusion. Our styles neatly contrast, I will be shading only on his. We have time again. Letterman goes away tonight, I am not impressed. The drawing was done to Lincoln Park, A Thousand Suns. Update: Jark went to his last day in class and delivered his speech. It was moving, people teared up. That's my boy. I am actually glad I didn't get into the class with him. Jark is the cleverest young person I know in this place. In the class, he was like a diamond in the rough. If there were two diamonds the value of each would be diminished. If they run it again next year I will conquer. Jark says more than one student promised to keep in touch, unlikely, but still. I am happy it went so well, it was a good experience for him, he wants to go to college when he's free. Jark is one of those inmates I wish I could help, but know I cannot. After all, I will be here, or somewhere like it, when he has been home for years. Whenever I tell people how many I have left they always appear slightly incredulous and say "months?" No, not months. Anyways...
William Myrl (15-5-20)

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