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The Things I've Seen

Ben (Cincere) Wilson is Program Assistant at the Institute for Transformative Mentoring Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. He is a writer and advocate working with formerly incarcerated people to create powerful narratives of hope and resilience.

The Things I’ve Seen

I’ve seen stuff in New York’s state prisons that civilians would not believe:

its a place where the letters L.I.F.E actually mean death,

where you hand over a quarter and get old for change,

where the word marathon means a rat race to the man’s office and the winner gets no cheese,

grown men attempt to stay young by playing tag—with razors.

A certifiable Don Juan translates direct eye contact with the opposite sex, into a marriage proposal: “A-yo son she feeling me, word!”

I attended a class where a rapist taught the principles of manhood.

I heard the story of a drunk who drank his own piss, hoping his system didn’t neutralize the alcohol from the bottle he’d just finished.

I’ve seen a woman who thought her smile would get men to do whatever she wanted. It all went wrong when she smiled at the guy who taught the principles of manhood.

I met a male, who called himself a female and consumed death-making babies to prove it.

I’ve seen a man marry a magazine and forsake all others for the centerfold. He noticed someone else with the same magazine and tried to end it all because his wife cheated.

I met a homosexual serial killer who became a born-again Christian and preached the principles of “turn the other cheek.”

I met a man who wanted to kill when the authorities removed the musical mechanism from a Christmas card his family sent. Just to take away the pain, his neighbor sang carols every time he opened the card—it worked.

I’ve seen the toughest, most hardened convicts break down and cry like babies at the mention of two words—parole board.

I watched an affluent pedophile draw plans for an inner city mentoring program for troubled youth.

I’ve seen a master blacksmith take Plexiglas and cotton, and make an Excalibur.

I’ve seen an incest baby stand eye to eye with a crack baby and look down on him.

I’ve seen a 20 second football game turn to murder, because the freak ass quarterback took two-hand touch literally and the center didn’t play that shit.

I ‘ve had the pleasure of meeting the man who knew something about everything—except how to answer the questions on that damned G.E.D test.

I’ve met the whitest Black man on the compound who was confused as hell, he didn’t know whether to give a direct order or follow one.

I saw a prisoner and a guard switch places voluntarily. The guard wound up pregnant and now she’s on lock-down.

In this place everyone is in a rush to go nowhere, without realizing the motto is ‘hurry up and wait’ and the only thing you really have to do…is time.

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