Peter Dunne was awarded Second Place in Fiction in the 2018 Prison Writing Contest.

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. On September 13, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Break Out: Voices from the Inside.

An Ungodly Godlike Man

Slay the master.


You will never be the master if you never kill your idols. Never. You will always remain a slave. That’s what I was told as a child, and that’s what I live by. It’s a universal truth. A piece of code embedded in the soul at birth. Hold up—let me stop: I don’t believe in silly things like the soul. I don’t believe, period. To believe is to lie. Not just to others, but to yourself. And that’s just stupid, isn’t it? It’s the equivalent of me calling myself ‘God’s gift to Atheism.’ I’m not an atheist; I believe in myself. I know this sounds strange after what I just said, but it’s true.

Okay, I’m lying.


See how that works?

Like a pearl accreting around dirt, we’ve built ourselves around these lies. Lies which soil the psyche, tarnish the world behind our eyes. My eyes tell the truth. If you could look inside my head, however, you’d sour like bad milk; but, then again, sour milk is one of the main ingredients in yogurt—and that’s good for you, right? Stop trying to translate that which doesn’t need words. Don’t pick at my brain—


“Yo, you heard about Damien?”

I look up from the paper clenched between my fingertips.

It’s Fizz, standing in front of my cell.

“Them dirty motherfuckers poked up Damien,” he says, staring wide-eyed at the grout on the floor. “Can’t believe this shit.”

I slide my papers inside a manila envelope, drop them on my locker and stare at him. I got nothing to say. All I can do is blink. All I can do is forget Damien, erase the ghost of his presence from my memory. Its presence. It’s already gone.

Fizz goes on: “Cocksuckers caught him in G-Block stairwell, coming from the bathhouse. Hit him wit’ the bone crusher.”

“Ice pick?”

“Yeah. Chest and throat.”

“I knew that shit was coming,” I say, then light a cigarette. Take a deep drag. Fizz leans against the wall. I hand him one and we smoke in silence. Keys jingle at the end of the tier, C.O.s coming to lock someone up. To take him to the box and beat the black offa him. Right down to the white meat. To the bone. You ever had that kind of beating?

I doubt it.

I bump fists with Fizz, and he leaves to go lock in. In a minute or two, shit gonna get real. Real quick.

The C.O.s bang their batons—I call them clubs—against everyone’s bars and tell us to lock the fuck in. Guys grumble as they strut back to their cells then slam their gates closed as hard as they can. One of the rookie officers tries to make eye contact with me, to stare me down. I don’t blame him. He don’t know no better. All he know is what the other assholes tell him. They tell him what to feel, what to think. He looking for a sucker, someone to herb out, but he picked the wrong one today. He fresh out the academy, trying to earn his stripes. I meanmug him. Look him in the eye, introduce him to my world. Show him what 15 joints up top look like.

The coward looks away.

Bitch ass.

I’m on my bunk blowing smoke rings when the thrashing begins. Not only can I hear everything, but I can feel the vibration against the thin metal wall as they wrestle with the prisoner inside the sardine-can of a cell.

When they come for you, they come for blood. They go hard. So you might as well get yours. Show them how you give it up.

The locker topples over. Something sounding like a radio smashes. Everybody yelling. Prisoners yelling. Officers yelling. It’s going down. Punching. Kicking. Batons and walkie-talkies clatter on the floor. The guys are screaming now, shaking their bars. Some are screaming, “Fuck them up, son! Fuck them niggas up! Nigga, you better kill them motherfucking pigs!” And some are just screaming, letting off steam. Waking up the six realms of existence so they can share their pain with them. With the world. Don’t matter if nobody hears, don’t matter if nobody cares. Everybody just getting they shit off. Pigs and cons.

Regular prison shit.

Normal considering the environment. This zoo.

This concrete jungle full of snakes, lizards, rats, lions, and gorillas.

When they finally cuff the guy who killed Damien then drag him off the tier, I can tell his teeth been kicked in the way he moans, a trail of dark blood drooling outta the side his mouth. There’s a puddle in front of my cell. Somebody gotta clean that shit up.

Guess who?

For the last three years, I been doing clean up duty around this shithole. Took me about six months of training—that’s what they call it: training—to get certified, to use the chemicals, to use the right amount, to learn the proper procedure for disposal, and blah blah blah blah. Anytime some shit go down and there bodily fluids around, I’m your man. Blue latex gloves and red caution bags. Powder and spray. Wait five to ten minutes, then wipe and mop. Pay is decent. 20 bucks a pop.

Last week I had to clean the “shit room” (you don’t need to do a bid to figure that one out) and the mental health ward upstairs. This fucking psycho, tree-jumping child molester sonofabitch slipped outta his turtle suit and smeared shit all over the observation window. All over. All. Over. Smiled at the officer while he did it. Heard he pulled a stunt to get there, slashed his wrists or something after getting extorted for his commissary by the hyenas. The usual.

You might think it’s funny. Think you can’t relate. But blood, shit, snot, piss, and semen ain’t nothing to laugh about. You ever clean any of that shit in your life, you know what I’m saying.

I lay the powder down and wait a few seconds before spraying the cell floor. Spot a few teeth. I’ll sweep those out later. The tier calmed down by now. Everyone chilled out, laughing, smoking. DutchMaster blunted and hoochie-poochied off bucket wine. The day’s events already forgotten, lost in that hole of time, that point where the moment—before and after emptiness—ellipses and declines.

It’s funny—well, not really—but in a lot of ways, I turned out just like my pops did. After all these years. Just like my moms said I would. Just like my teachers said I would. Sweeping and mopping floors. Cleaning up garbage. Making chump-change slaving for white people as a Maximum-A correctional facility janitor.



Last I heard, pops was homeless. Wandering around Manhattan and looking for odd jobs. Prison really fucked him up. Big time. Hurt the whole family when he came home. Remember nights when, after getting dusted and drunk all night at the bar, he’d break in through the windows and start screaming at moms, screaming at us. That went on for a few years. Shit was fucked up. He was never the same. But then again, now that I think about it, after a few years in here, don’t know if anyone is.

Found out yesterday why Damien got hit: a pair of Puma’s. Yeah, you heard right, Puma’s. Not Prada’s. Puma’s. A fucking pair of sneakers. How much a life is worth in this shithole. Kids these days is loco fo’ real. I gotta get the hell outta here.


Lotta tension in the air today. Everybody on edge. Playing the wall real close. At this point in the game, one little incident, one little stupid word, one little stupid look could set off a colossal explosion of “razor-tag” and “hokey-pokey.” Paranoia sets in. Guys become gladiators like it’s the Olympics or some shit. And, if you in the yard, you expected to get down with the “Getdown.” Get them before they get you. You might not wanna get involved, but dudes ain’t trying to hear that, because if your peoples got beef with them, and they got beef with your peoples, they got beef with you, too. And that’s a whole lotta beef you can’t digest, just sitting there in the hollow of your gut—with no if-ands-or-buts between—and there nothing else you can do because anything after but is Bullshit.

Don’t ask me why.

Y is a crooked letter.

You smell me?

Word on the street: Fizz and his peoples getting ready to approach them dudes with son who caught Damien slipping. Ready to put in some major work. I’m gonna fall back from the yard tonight, chill, and read a book. Fizz ain’t come around this morning. But that’s outta respect; he know I ain’t with the bullshit these days. I turn 34 next week. Got to grow up sometime, even if it’s in a place where it’s impossible to do so. Where whatever age you come in at, you stay at. That puts me at 19 years old. A ripe 19 years old.

The porter stops at my cell. He got cigarettes on the market. Newports. I tell him I’m good, I gotta couple pouches till next commissary. He mops the tier then comes back, looking vigilant. We shoot the shit a little bit.

Since after morning chow, people been real quiet. Too quiet. Rumors about administration locking this bitch down been spreading around faster than Zika. This ain’t good.

“Lockdowns” mean bologna and cheese sandwiches, quarter waters, no commissary, no phone, no packages, and a whole lotta swamp ass for the next two weeks. And the worst part of it all: no cigarettes. Hope that don’t happen, but if it does, it does. It is what it is.

Part of the experience.

About 30 or so minutes into evening rec, I hear shots go off in the guard tower. The sirens go off. I hear the C.O.s screaming, Get on the fucking ground! Put the goddamn knife down, asshole—right now!

I don’t know why they even bother. Nobody ever listens. I mean, how can you? Put the knife down. For what? So I can get shanked in my fucking Adam’s apple?

More shots go off.

I lay my book flat on my chest, close my eyes. It’s gonna be a few hours before they get everyone back inside. Guess Fizz is gone. Going to the box. Or the infirmary. Or into town for an emergency hospital trip. This is like the eighth or ninth incident this week. And it’s only Wednesday. I think about them Newports. Two weeks without menthol?


I quickly wave the porter over to my cell.


Whenever there a lockdown you can bet your pretty ass there gonna be a shakedown to go with it. “Shakedown” ain’t no hip-hop dance. It means violation of everything and everyone for 24 hours. Losing property. Stripping down to your drawers. Getting barked on, screamed at. The usual.

I got all my property—well, you really don’t own nothing in here but that’s what they call it to please the liberals and make them think our “rights” is being respected—laid out on my bed. Takes the joy from the pigs when they come to trash your shit. It been three days, so they should be coming to cause havoc real soon. If not today, then tomorrow.

The few things I care about, like my family photos and paperwork, is on the floor under the bed. Hopefully one of the lazy C.O.s search my cell. You luck out with one of them, and they don’t fuck your shit up too much. If you quiet, polite. Carry yourself like a man. If you got time on your jacket, got an old number. They don’t go as hard as they do with you as they do with the young boys, the gangbangers. But if you got any sexually-related crimes or any crimes involving children, you better pray to God or Lucifer or who-the-fuck-ever because whether you believe in any of that shit or not, you gonna get the kinda beating where people get all spiritual if and when they survive it.

Like POWs in Iraq, released in exchange for terrorists. You feel me? After situations like that, you see guys turn holier than thou. Start going to the church, the mosque, the synagogue. You ever see a black man with a yarmulke on?


You will in here.

Trust me, I seen a lotta craziness on this bid, seen a lot of changes in dudes. But nobody takes the cake like my boy, Xavier. Can’t ever forget that kid.

Xavier wasn’t one them dudes that a place like this can change, he was one them dudes that changes places like this. Changes people. Kid came and flipped the whole culture on its head. If it wasn’t for him, I never would’ve started writing. Never would’ve entered that contest and won first place. Never would’ve joined the poetry club at the library. And I know for a fact we wouldn’t have no college in here either. Nobody ever challenged the superintendent about issues like that. Real issues. Shit that could actually benefit dudes, give them something positive to do with themselves. Keep them from killing each other. Nobody ever challenged the prison about anything, period. Ever. Nobody, except him. That’s no bullshit I’m spitting.

Dudes still talk about him like he here. Kid sort of a legend. I gotta admit: I miss son.

The C.O.s is acting all rowdy downstairs on the first tier. I hear them banging they batons and yelling and acting stupid. These dumb rednecks have nothing better to do than get drunk, slap they wives and kids around, then come fuck with us like they live for this shit. Some of them do. Most of them just angry. Scared. Maybe a little bit of both, I don’t know. About three months ago, somebody blasted one of the pigs across the face—buck-fiftied the poor motherfucker right outside the mess hall. Then they all settled down for a while. Now that everybody locked in? Hyped up like they got battery acid running through them or some shit. It cracks me up.

My thing is this: If you ain’t really about that mess, stay in your lane and play your position. Don’t front. Because, if you do, them wolves will come out.

The C.O.s is upstairs now, on the top tier.

My tier.

Here we go . . .  

“Everybody down to their whites. You know the drill. And if you don’t, your monkey ass better find out. Let’s go, let’s go,” the sergeant yells, while nine or ten officers follow behind him, banging their batons against the bars. “Everybody standing, IDs on the gate. Face the back of the wall. When we tell you, slowly step away from the wall with your fingers interlocked behind your head. Any sudden movements and we take it is as a threat. Act accordingly.”

A fat C.O., looking all Chris Farley in the face, stops in front of my cell. “12 cell,” he yells to the officer at the control panel. My gate cracks.

“Step back, slowly.

I step back.

“Turn around.”

I turn around, glare at him.

“Drop the boxers.”

I let them drop, show him what a real man looks like. Officer Beachball looks at my dick a few moments, then stares me in the eye. I can feel the racism radiating off his unibrow. I can tell we gonna have fun. A bead of sweat runs down his unshaved jaw.

“Lift your balls.”

I lift them.

“Turn around. Spread them.”

I turn around, spreading my cheeks so he can see what I had for breakfast. “C.O., I’m not due for a colonoscopy . . . for at least another six years,” I say. My neighbor, watching his cell being searched, laughs. One of the C.O. laughs.

“Shut the fuck up. Get dressed.”

I turn around and put my boxers on. Nostrils flaring, he watches while I dress. Looks me up and down. State greens from top to bottom, shower slippers, chip on my shoulder. The state property look.

“How long you been down?” he says.

“You should know,” I say. “Look at my ID . . . you wanna join the fan club or something?”

“I’m not gonna ask you again, asswipe,” he says, reaching for his baton. His comfort toy. “What’s your number?”

The year you was swimming in your daddy’s nutsack, bitch. “Longer than you been on the job.”

Officer Beachball calls the sergeant. He need someone to hold his hand, I guess.

“What’s the problem?”

“This guy’s being an asshole,” he says.

“Yeah, what he do?” the sergeant says, all rosy in the face.

“Jerkoff thinks he’s too good to follow a direct order. Won’t tell me his DIN, Sarge.”

“You’re calling me over for this bullshit . . . are you fucking kidding me?” he says before grabbing my ID off the gate. “It’s right here. Right. Fucking. Here.”

Officer Beachball glares at me.

“11-A-0671,” the sergeant reads off the card. “That’s you, right?”

“Yep,” I say, struggling to keep a straight face. The sergeant belittles the officer, nods to me, then walks away. I enjoy the show. Sergeant known me for years. Know I don’t start shit. Know I keep to myself. And don’t mess with no one. Know I got fast hands, too.

All cops ain’t bad, but all cops ain’t good.

You feel me?

For the next 45 minutes or so, I watch as the creep tosses and kicks everything in my cell, like a UPS box in a project hallway. He breaks everything that can be broke. I wanna choke him; I wanna throw him under the bed and kick a fucking field goal with his head, but I’m trying to change my life. I need to change. Fo’ real. Need to stop smoking. Drinking. Cursing. . . .     

Well, maybe not the last thing.

But I’m really trying to be more of an example, like Xavier was for the young dudes. Kept a lotta them outta trouble. Till he left. Maybe I can do something good. Maybe I can be a pioneer of some movement in here. Something positive. Poetry club been falling off lately. Maybe it’s up to me to continue what Xavier started. Keep dudes from killing each other. I don’t know . . . I don’t know what to do. I know something gotta happen, though.

Time to clean up, rearrange, and reorder things. My paperwork is fine. All over the cell—a couple sheets ripped up, a couple sheets in the toilet, but, other than that, I made out decent, pretty decent. Family photos unmolested. I’ll put in a property claim for the cassette player and hotpot. Buy new ones while I wait for the claim to come through. Everybody on the block is gonna put one in, the way it looks around here. Motherfucking pigs destroyed everything.

Everything except heart.

And spirit.

Nah, they can’t break that.

I remember this one time—don’t know why I remember this, but—a few years back, when Xavier was my neighbor, we had this one crazy motherfucking lockdown that lasted almost three weeks. Everybody was miserable. Place stunk worse than a bucket of chitterlings. Peep the funny part of the situation: This crazy son of a bitch, Xavier, flips out because we can’t get no showers, so he decides to jam a toilet paper roll over his broom and light it up to set off the fire alarm. We all thought he lost it, thought he was smoking out everyone on the tier—till the alarm went off and the pigs had to emergency evacuate us to the yard.

Everybody went crazy.

That was when the superintendent got the call at his summer house. This Larry Byrd-looking sonofabitch was on the first thing smoking soon as he found out his employees was lazy, didn’t wanna do shit beside sit on they fat ass and pretend to be running shit like normal. Flipped out when he found out how long they had us locked up for. Found out the families was calling the governor’s office for weeks. He really tore into the pigs when shit wound up in the Post—not because he cared, but because the blame fell on him. His administration. Superintendent got so mad he gave us extra privileges just to spite them pigs. Suspended half of them. Suspended with pay, of course. Gave us showers, phones, and visits every day. Soon as we got off lockdown, though, couple prisoners got jumped. Beat real bad. Bloodied up. Broken bones. The families kept calling and complaining, threatening to sue them and they future unborn generations if they didn’t fall the fuck back. After that, things settled down for a while.

Pigs had no choice, really.

Me and Xavier got real tight a couple weeks later. Used to chef it up together and go halves on a blunt or a bottle of hooch. Talked for hours. Killed time. On weekdays, he’d make me read what he called literature. Novels mostly. I did a little writing, too. Poetry. Short stories. And after lights out, when everybody on the block was into some nonsense on the gate, son would send me book after book after book until my temples throbbed, and my eyes burned worse than the bulb next to my head, and I’d pass out with them damn books covering my face, like a bum on a park bench with his newspaper blanket tucked under his chin.

Like birds at rest, nesting over my dreams.

On the way to school he’d stop in front of my cell and laugh. I miss Xavier. Got his info. Heard he gotta book coming out . . . something about a writer who writes about writers. Funny dude. Might send him a line when I get out. That ain’t gonna be for a few more years, but it’s something to look forward to, I guess. Gotta have something, right?


“Montega got hit up, bro,” says Chino to his neighbor on the way back from programs. “Grip up, my nigga, ya’ heard. Shit might pop off tonight.”

I walk by the two of them and fill my bucket up at the slopsink. I know Chino. The other guy new to the prison. Got here a couple weeks after the lockdown ended. Young. Dumb. Gangbanger. Probably got booted outta medium security being a knucklehead. Can’t help but overhear the conversation as I add some soap powder to the water and stir it around. Watch the bubbles swirl into the vortex then pop. I add some more soap powder and head back to my cell. Kid still bugging out, yelling. Making a scene. I shake my head and sigh. Sometimes dudes get reckless. Make the environment real uncomfortable; can’t control their emotions. Wrong people catch wind of it. Word spreads. Then bullshit starts.

“Them fucking prietos think they can style on any niggas they want, but shit ain’t going down like that, Chino.”

“Pisa, pisa, tranquiiillo. Niggas might be listening mani. Breathe easy, we gonna handle that later. Let them sleep on us, for now—but be on point,” says Chino.

“Nah, fuck that. Fuck that. I got my shit. Let’s catch them now. Where they at? I hate them fucking pussies. What tier them niggas on? I don’t give a fuck about no police, Chino. I don’t give a fuck,” the other guy says, pulling out a toothbrush with a thin piece of fiberglass on the side.

What he think this is . . . a barbershop? Hope whoever he got beef with don’t bring a banger. A bonecrusher.

He gonna learn.

The hard way, by the looks of it.

I hear my neighbor laughing about something on the radio. Laughing with the madness of bliss experienced by those who suffer the most deeply. I do a little reading, wait for the C.O. to hand out the mail. He comes around. Stops at my cell. Flips through the stack, then keeps it moving.

Nothing for me.

Young kid in E-Block hung up this morning. Did it with his state blanket. Had to clean up the cell . . . after they wrapped him up in state sheets and threw out the body, like a sack of dirty laundry. Pine box if nobody claim him. It’s tough this time of year.

Since I know how tonight gonna go, it’s probably best I fall back from the yard and read a magazine or a book. Just chill and listen to my music. Been doing this a little while, seen this movie a million times. I know how it ends. Prison is like them Star magazines: same scene, different faces. Year in and year out. Ain’t too much different than the free world. The real world. In some ways, the monsters in the town is more evil than the ones behind these walls. Think about it.

Hold that down.

Nothing shocks me anymore. I laugh at them crazy bastards in Times Square screaming about “end times.” World ain’t getting worse: It always been fucked up. We still got nukes, financial ruin, corrupt governments, rape, robbery, disease, flooding, earthquakes, starvation, riots, looting, genocide, and anarchy. Nothing new. Sons still killing fathers; daughters still dumping babies down garbage chutes. People still overdosing and jumping off bridges like the shit in style. It ain’t the new normal, it’s the old one. And it ain’t going nowhere anytime soon. So don’t get it twisted.

Went to the mental health ward today. Cleaned up some shit and piss. Little bit of vomit. Semen. The usual. Saw my boy, Craig, in the infirmary. Told me Fizz got two years in the box. And a few new charges to go with it:

Weapons. First-degree assault. Attempted murder. The works.

Hopefully, he won’t spend the rest of his life behind bars. Some dudes gotta learn the hard way, though. It is what it is. I tried to work with the kid.

Can’t change people if they don’t wanna change.

People change when they get tired of the bullshit.

That’s what Xavier would say if he was here. But he ain’t. And he ain’t coming back, neither. That’s a good thing. I’m proud of him, fo’ real. Now it’s my turn.

Whenever I need inspiration, I read one of the things he wrote, one of the things he left behind—said caused him too much pain to take with him—and I think. I just sit on my bunk and think. Like meditation. You ever do that?

Sometimes, while sitting on my bunk and staring at the bars in front of me, I imagine him here, his mirror hanging out the bars, teaching me how to read. He gave me my first book a few Christmases ago: Thus Spoke Zarathustra. My first Christmas present ever. Shit, my first-ever Christmas. Last one, too. Nobody celebrate holidays in here.

Ain’t shit to celebrate.

Just another day.

I wanna write something great. I wanna say something great. I wanna get outta my head. I wanna empty it all out. Feel free. Weed and alcohol can only do so much for someone, you know? Someone. That’s all I am. One man. Maybe not even that.

While waiting to go to commissary a couple days ago, some young dude with a fresh DIN started drilling me with questions, asking me how I was doing and all this other dumb shit, trying to be funny for his peoples, so I spazzed out:

“You think this shit a game, kid? You know what it’s like to lose everything and everyone? You stupid or crazy? Ain’t nobody laughing with you, they laughing at you. You still a kid. This life ain’t for you, homeboy. You don’t know pain. Think you do, you don’t. You wanna talk to me, get to know me, you better be willing to share the burden. Why you asking how I’m doing? I look like I’m doing good? I’m in fucking prison, stupid. Anyone here look like they doing good? What you asking me questions for anyway? What you gonna do? You gonna help me? If you can’t do that, then don’t ask me shit. You don’t know me, kid. Ask one of these dudes around here if you wanna learn the ropes, want someone to hold your hand. Don’t ask me nothing. Don’t ask me shit. And don’t . . . don’t ask me my name. Nobody asks me my name. I don’t have one. State took that away a long time ago. Took that when they took my pops. You hear me? Look at me when I’m talking to you. Yeah, look me in the eye. All that’s left is me. Me. A man with his word and his honor. A man. That’s all I am. An ungodly godlike man. You don’t know what that means. Might never. Now get your shit together, and stop being a fucking clown before somebody really hurts you.”

An ungodly godlike man. Don’t know what that last thing meant, don’t know where it came from, but I said it. And I meant it. Guess Xavier’s presence still here.

Anyway, the young dude looks at me strange. Shuts his mouth. Keeps it moving. Everyone quiet. Whole vibe changed.

That’s how I like it. That’s how you gotta be with most people in here. Let them know you ain’t playing no games, that you ain’t the one. Gotta keep your circle small in here. In the freeworld, too. The only way to avoid the bullshit.

Craig came by later and talked to me. Smoked a Swisher. Told me to go easy on the kid. Told me he fresh up top. I was like him once. Ain’t know how serious shit was. Came in the system with my head up my ass. I’ll see what the kid about. Give it some time. Maybe talk to him in the yard. See if he join a gang or get into some nonsense before inviting him to poetry club. I’ll work with him.

Everybody deserves a chance.

Later that night, when I got back to my cell after programs, I found one of Xavier’s monologues crumbled up behind my locker. Dusty and waterlogged. Must have been there since the shakedown. I read it out loud, although I got it memorized. Got it on cap. With a pen in my hand and composition notebook on my bed, I read it to my neighbor—Xavier’s spirit nodding in approval—before ripping it up:


Stop trying to translate that which doesn’t need words. Don’t pick at my brain.

You probably think I’m an arrogant prick for coloring this transmission with such flowery language and you’d be right to do so. Perfectly right. It’s understandable; I know you hate me deep down in your soul. Soul. What the hell does a soul have to do with anything? Oops! There I go again. I said hell just now, didn’t I? See what I mean, it’s embedded in me. I find it very amusing.

Ha, Ha. Ha. Ha, Ha.

But back to what I was saying:

Remaining a sheep won’t help you in this world. While you’re out there—grazing, mindlessly minding your own business—packs of ravenous wolves are salivating at the mouth, waiting for you to venture out the pasture, out the loving eye of the Shepherd who cares for you (as long as he can shear your coat for spiritual profit). But with no wind, the shadow of this monolith stays glued in place, like a fateful stain, a telltale mark clinging to the earth as it goes around and around the sun for another millennia to come. Never ending. Ever.

Some will frolic in its dream; some will slash through its illusion. But the system remains. There will always be fools. Victims. This is the cold, hard reality of the world. Kill or be killed. So be a lamb why don’t you?

I’m joking.

I would never wish such an abominable fate on you. Or anyone. What kind of monster do you take me for? And yes, I apologize in advance for my use of the word fate. Who am I to condemn? I am not God . . .

So, then, you ask, who am I? A sage, a prophet, a demon? A raving lunatic, perhaps? You wish to understand me, my mode of thinking. But how can you ever hope to understand me and my teachings when you don’t understand yourself?

Ha. Ha, Ha, Ha. Ha.

Who are you?

That is the real question.

Like that which is not thought by the mind, but by which the mind thinks, you will always be a step behind. Many steps behind. But there’s a solution to all of this, my friend: You must slay the master. Me, I.

Become the master. Seize life by the throat and take control.

Kill your idols.