Category Archives: Prisons

White Noise

High ceiling
windowless room
except the white noise
of bright lighting
except me
except door’s knob
of uneasy
a hot mess
but nevertheless
I wait
in this Twilight Zone
of a disaster
turn into minutes
turn into hours
still feet
a quickend pace
a slow jog
complexity of thought
rise and fall
like a statistical graph
Did I see?
Crashing the disturbance
of the undisturbable
Deputy good cop
and officer bad cop
hurled accusations
of machinations
I could not have done
I remained silent
silence brokered for a cigarette
to which I refuse
the swiftness
of wiffness
of roasted caffeine
filled the room

Donald “C-Note” Hooker

[Editor’s Note]: The Sorcerer’s Brew, was a work created by the artist for the “Everything Coffee,” prisoner art exhibit in New York.


The Sorcerer’s Brew

I was first awoken
by its smell
It was carmel
in my mind
and toasted
to perfection
like an erection
so orgasmic
like reaching out
for a lover again
on the morning after
washing over the tongue’s tendrils
like the baptismal cleansing
that washes away all sins
this caffeinated liquefied warmth
with all its herbal toxicants
of sugars and spice
tho it brings nothing nice
but sin
to do
again and again
a lust
a desire
an indescrible addiction
for more and more
caffeinated liquefied warmth
sips unending
its herbal toxicants
of sugar and spice
amongst the souls it treats

Donald “C-Note” Hooker

[Editor’s Note]: The Sorcerer’s Brew, was a work created by the artist for the “Everything Coffee,” prisoner art exhibit in New York.


My country
is still not free
This sordid land
of hypocrisy
Of thee I sing
Land where my fathers died
Land where the slaves did cry
on every mountainside
Prisons reign supreme

About Paintoem
Poem by: C-Note
Painting by: C-Note

Incarceration Nation is an original work of ink, graphite, and wax on paper. Done by Donald “C-Note” Hooker in 2017. The painting was inspired by the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in August of 2017, and is the sequel to his first political work Black August-Los Angeles. The poem written later in the year was inspired by the NFL players “Knee Protest.”
” I was looking at other iconic American verbal expressions of patriotism,” says C-Note. “And ‘My Country, Tis of Thee,’ also known as ‘America,’ is probably third on that list. The creative juices to create the poem had nothing to do with the painting; however, together they make an excellent one-two punch, as a political work of art.”
The painting Incarceration Nation was given to the California Prison Focus as a donation. However, you can still buy prints of this piece, and other related products, at Fine Art America

[Editor’s Note ]: This Paintoem, like all Paintoems, are given to the public, to have free use rights, so long as acknowledgement is given to the artist(s).

Links to other Paintoems:
My Dilemma
Tears of the Mothers
Black August-Los Angeles
More Paintoems

California Prison Focus is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose work as a prisoner’s news source needs generous public support. Click here to their website’s donation page

California Prison Focus • 1904 Franklin St • #507 Oakland, CA 94612 • contact(at)prisons(dot)org • (510) 836-7222

FATHERS AND SONS (A Play Written by Prisoners)

Edited by:
Donald “C-Note” Hooker and Mohammed White Ali

A once in a generation work of art that gives voice to the boy in every man, and to the man who needs to be heard by every boy.


Fathers and Sons, was a play held March 15-17, 2017, at the California State Prison-Los Angeles County (CSP-LAC), and performed by the prisoners housed on the B Facility yard. It was directed by Leah Joki who was assisted by five professional actors under the supervision of Meri Parkarinen of The Strindberg Laboratory. It consisted of 20-acts. These were established works from playwrights such as Shakespeare and August Wilson. It also included original works from the CSP-LAC B Facility prisoners.
Fathers and Sons (A Play Written by Prisoners), is a multiracial work consisting of the edited and unedited versions of the written plays by the prisoners performed in March of 2017. This work also includes new material from CSP-LAC B Facility prisoners that were not a part of the original March playbill.


Another Wounded Soul
by Tuan Doan
Tears of Shame
by Tuan Doan
Running the Streets
by Mohammed E. White Ali
Father to Son
by Dontay Hayes
Accidental Legacy
by Derric Burbie
Foolish Man’s Land
by David Garcia
Chasing a Dream
by Travon Pugh
The Seed of Bonnie and Clyde (South Los Angeles Edition)
by Donald “C-Note” Hooker
Grandpa and Michael
by Jerry Cooley
My Father’s Gone
by Ira Benjamin


I put together this compilation after conversing with most of the prisoner writers on the play Fathers and Sons, and hearing the frustrations of their stories being edited down. None of them have ever put on a prison play before and may not have understood brevity is good. But my concern was the editing of content. So much so, I felt it was a real travesty against our society.* I am quoted in a Paintoem as saying “We create monsters of ugliness but we’re scared to look at our own creations.” As a member of the Restorative Justice Community we believe at getting at the core truth. We will never get to the core of the mass incarceration problem here in America if we simply whitewash its causation. Simply acting that our criminal justice is justified because our prisons are full of degenerate Wally Cleaver’s of Leave It to Beaver, who’s background are from good homes is not the truth. This is not the general upbringing of the men in our prisons, nor the sons they have left, or are leaving behind. While not all women may agree, the Chorus of Voices are loud enough that bodies of work that give women insight into the man, man-child relationship, are helpful. In households where the woman is raising a man-child alone, her sisterhood, her gender, is not enough to rear a man. This is not some chauvinistic banter, but is the authentic Chorus of Voices of single women households raising a man-child. A man must be involved in this endeavor. While Fathers and Sons (A Play Written by Prisoners), cannot substitute for a living, breathing, and present male, it is a must-read for the junior males of our society. An insight, a tour, of how one gets into a mess, and how to avoid it.
Finally, for those who want to work with prisoners and have their voices heard, don’t whitewash it. To do so makes about as much sense as a U.S. President serving a foreign dignitary a state dinner consisting of the cuisine from that dignitary’s homeland. When foreign Heads of State come to America, feed them hamburgers. We live in a golden age of television that was founded on the backs of cable shows such as Sex in the City, The Sopranos, and further exacerbated by Breaking Bad. The point being, the American public will support gritty reality. And these were my frustrations, and my passions, in presenting to you, Fathers and Sons (A Play Written by Prisoners.

Click here for link to free download of play Fathers and Sons (A Play Written by Prisoners)
Related Links:
Prison Foundation
The Strindberg Laboratory
Leah Joki

*This comment should not be misconstrued. Leah Joki is a Julliard trained actress, and has over twenty years of teaching prisoners theater. She is highly beloved by her students. The schism between writers and the direction a director takes the writer’s written material is nothing new to the process or the industry.

Dreams of the Fathers
by: C-Note


The Sol
of her solar winds
crossed my face

Dusk filled dust
is what I taste

But still
I soldier on
I launch into the madness
of a quickened pace

You are the light of my world
and as this hunk of rock
rotates itself, away from you
I solider on

Tho darkness becomes nigh
and the twilight sets on our love
I’ll just set my sights higher
in the sky

I know if I seek the Heavens
where the gods abode
I’ll find your light the brightest
amongst Heaven’s neon lights

And so shall you be
my hope eternity
till fortunes shift
and this hunky rock gives the gift
of a new horizon
and the soul
of your solar winds
my face.

To: Mickie
Love C-Note
poem #1

@2017 C-Note







CAROL [The CAROL role must have the highest pitched voice]


A YOUNG WOMAN and OLD WOMAN are in a courthouse, prisoner, holding cell. The YOUNG WOMAN is pacing the floor.
YOUNG WOMAN: I wonder what they’re going to do? My lawyer said…
OLD WOMAN: Ah, the heck with them lawyers, all they do is lie. They tell you what you wanna hear to get you to plead guilty, then when you get upstate it’s a whole nother story.
In comes KAY crying.
OLD WOMAN: Hey, nobody wants to hear you crying, you ain’t the only one who got problems here.
YOUNG WOMAN: Do you always got to be so negative. Do you see she’s hurting?
OLD WOMAN: [Stands up with her fist balled up] Who you talking to Missy, I’ll deck both you and Miss Sunshine. Now stop your crying!
KAY: [Stops crying, does slow whimpering]
YOUNG WOMAN: Hey, whatcha crying for?
KAY: I just got Life Without the Possibility of Parole.
YOUNG WOMAN: Whoa, whatcha do?
KAY: [About to speak]
OLD WOMAN: Don’t answer that. Never answer that. Ain’t nobody suppose to ask you whatcha in for. And if they do, don’t tell them.
KAY: [Looks at the OLD WOMAN and the YOUNG WOMAN]
OLD WOMAN: Life Without eh, well you still won’t look as good as me when you get my age. [Smiles with missing teeth]
YOUNG WOMAN: Ugh, your teeth are missing.
OLD WOMAN: You want your teeth missing too, I can arrange it you know.
KAY: [Asks if she’s been to the pen? What is waiting for her? Both OLD WOMAN and YOUNG WOMAN tell her all the programs she can get into.]
KAY arrives at prison, Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). She awaits outside her newly assigned cell carrying a bedroll. Inside is CAROL, her now cellmate. Cell door entrance has been electronically opened by a guard in a control booth. Once inside, the Guard closes the door electronically.
CAROL: Hi, I’m Carol.
KAY: [Throws bed roll on her bunk and begins to quiz CAROL about the program] So what do you gals do around here all day?
CAROL: Nothing.
KAY: You gals do go out to the yard, get some exercise?
CAROL: Nope.
KAY: [Looks incredulous] We just stay in the cell all day?
CAROL: Yeah.
KAY: Never go out????
CAROL: We do, but we’re on lockdown right now.
KAY: For what?
CAROL: A sticking.
KAY: Wow.
CAROL: Yeah, these women can be vicious.
KAY: How long you’ve been here?
CAROL: Seven years.
KAY: In this cell?
CAROL: Nah, I just moved to this cell.
KAY: When we’re not on lockdown, do they have any programs we can do?
CAROL: School or work.
KAY: What kind of work?
CAROL: In the kitchen, yard crew, or building porter.
KAY: I heard you can get trades at prison.
CAROL: Yeah you could, but they moved all vocational trades off the level four, maximum security yards.
KAY: Why they do that?
CAROL: Budget. We’re not worth spending the money on. These are the yards with the long-timers, and if you are a short-timer on one of these yards, then you’re a screwup.
KAY: I’m not worth spending the money on?
CAROL: None of us are.
KAY: [Looks dismayed]
CAROL: Kay, I finally got a way to get you more out of the cell time.
KAY: Really??? I can’t believe it’s been 5 years and they still haven’t given me a job or anything to do.
CAROL: That’s because nobody goes home from a level four. So when they do get a job they stay in them for years and years. It’s not like the Men’s prison, they have lots of level fours and lots of prisons. We only have this one.
KAY: That’s true. So what did you get me hooked up for?
KAY: A.A.? What’s that?
CAROL: Alcoholic Anonymous.
KAY: Really Carol, that’s the best you could do. I don’t drink, you know that.
CAROL: I know, but I was thinking since you got time to do, that you could start your own group and help out these women here.
KAY: Really!!!
CAROL: Yeah.
KAY: Okay, when we start?
CAROL: Well one of the blacks, said in about 2 weeks. She was going around signing people up, so I signed us up. Apparently her boss who is a free staff and works in the canteen put in an application with the warden to open up A.A. classes.
KAY: That’s great! [Kay and Carol jump up and down with excitement]
[2 weeks later, CAROL and KAY are doing their hair and putting on their best prison clothes for the A.A. meeting in about an hour.]
KAY: You didn’t tell me this A.A., would be scheduled during our yard time.
CAROL: I know. I didn’t know either, but we have to give up our yard to go to A.A., to get the lessons. You want to teach the other women right?
KAY: Yeah [KAY and CAROL starts jumping up and down with excitement]
Prison Guard announces names over the loudspeaker of the prisoners slated for A.A..
PRISON GUARD: Attention in the building, attention in the building, listen up. The following inmates are to report to the building 5 dining hall for A.A.. Sarina Ruiz; Sharon Walton; Carol Wells; Carmen Hildago; Tawana Alexander. If I called your name, when your door opens, step out and report to A.A..
KAY: What happened! They didn’t call my name.
CAROL: I know.
KAY: Are You sure you got me on the list?
CAROL: Positive. I signed you up first, then mine right under yours.
KAY: I bet you one of those wenches took my name off in favor of one of their friends.
CAROL: Now we don’t know that for sure Kay. [Cell doors open] I gotta go. I’ll tell you what’s going on when I get back.
2-hours later, Carol enters the cell looking bewildered
KAY: Carol, what’s wrong, what did they tell you?
CAROL: [CAROL with tears in her eyes tells KAY] They say you have life without the possibility of parole and that no LWOP’ers can participate in any state run program.
KAY: But A.A., is not state ran.
CAROL: I know. But the sponsors check is coming from the state.
KAY: Who told you that?
CAROL: Sissy. She has Life Without, and been in prison for 37 years.
KAY: Well we’re going to go and talk to her.
[KAY and CAROL finds SISSY on the yard.]
KAY: Hi Sissy.
SISSY: Hi Kay.
KAY: Sissy, I have Life Without. I can’t be in any programs?
SISSY: Nah. We can’t get in any programs.
CAROL: How come?
SISSY: We’re never getting out. So they think. Every time some man rapes a little girl, they change the laws to come down really hard. But it never screws the child rapist murderer, but everyone else. The three strikes law. A child rapist murderer. Now they’re giving people 25 years to life for a $2 bump. This one gal got 25 years to life for stealing aspirin for her teething daughter. And my cousin’s boyfriend got 25 years to life for driving a car without the owner’s consent.
SISSY: They use to give LWOP’ers a chance to go to the Board after 30 years. But guess what?
CAROL: A man raped a little girl and killed her.
SISSY: You got that right. Now the parole board can deny up to 15 years before you get another hearing. And as for us. The LOWP’ers. They took our parole board chances all together.
KAY: That don’t make sense.
SISSY: None of it makes sense. People get their life without commuted to life with the possibility of parole all the time. But then when you go to the parole board you have no certificates in your file. Because when you had life without, you weren’t allowed to participate in any programs. So you’re way behind the eight ball as far as parole suitability. Everybody else who’s been down a long time the board sees all these self-help and other good stuff to make release. But with you and I. Nothing. So we’re not going home even if we do get our sentences commuted.
CAROL: That’s not fair.
SISSY: I know, but what can we do.
KAY: I know.
KAY, CAROL, and SISSY, all decide to start their own A.A. group once CAROL completes A.A.. Six months later, KAY, CAROL, SISSY, and 15 other prisoners, mostly LWOP’ers, begin their first A.A. meeting.
A prison guard at a considerable distance from the group asks a prisoner, “What’s going on over there?”

PRISON GUARD: Eh, eh you, come here.
PRISON GUARD: What they got going on over there?
PRISONER: They’re doing an A.A. group.
PRISON GUARD: Those are Life Withouters. They’re not supposed to be in no self help group. [Prison guard radios in] lay the yard, lay the yard down, sound the alarm.
30 guards come and lock up all the women in the hole. After 3 days, they have their administrative segregation assessment hearing. CAROL is called first and returns to tell the others the news.
KAY: Carol tell us what happened?
CAROL: They’re releasing me out the hole.
KAY: See Sissy, I told you this was nothing.
CAROL: That’s not true Kay. They’re keeping all the Life Withouters back here and giving them SHU terms.
KAY: SHU Terms! But I thought they ended long-term solitary confinement.
CAROL: No Kay. They say you’re all a part of a disruptive group, and that you pose a threat to the safety and security of the institution.
KAY: For being in A.A.?
CAROL: No. For being a Life Withouter in A.A. and that you and Sissy are the ringleaders because Sissy knows better.
KAY: How long they say we have to stay in solitary confinement?
CAROL: Indefinitely! [Cell door opens releasing CAROL out of the hole. CAROL shouts] Kay the cell door is opening they’re taking me out of here!
KAY: [Realizing that she has only seconds as she will never see CAROL again in her life, yells] Carol!
CAROL: [Yells back] Kay!
KAY: [Yells] I love you!
CAROL: [Yells back, with tears welling up] You’re awesome Kay, I’ll never forget you!
KAY: [Yells] I’ll never forget you too!
CAROL: [Yells back] I love you too, and remember, if I ever have a daughter I’m naming her after you.
Before Kay could utter another word, the heavy, rusty, iron door that led out of the long corridor where the women in the hole were being kept, reverberated with a bellicose roar from being slammed shut. Then, there was a deafening sound. Silence. [Allow for a considerable amount of time for silence before announcing The End. Let the audience feel the effects of absolute silence]
The End

©2016 Donald “C-Note” Hooker

Editor’s Note: Life Without the Possibility of Parole (a prison play) is a series of work, created around a poem of the same title. This poem inspired a painting (Life Without the Possibility of Parole) and a paintoem (Life Without the Possibility of Parole). The artist has more to come, surrounding just this piece “Life Without the Possibility of Parole.”