Two Days Before

(written two days before I joined with 10 others in a hunger strike that began in Danbury Federal Prison and that lasted for 34 days, my first fast/hunger strike)

August 4, 1971

Because after I was convicted
in Rochester I told myself and
my co-defendants that prison
should not stop our lives and
our work of liberation and peacemaking;

Because I have not forgotten
in prison that for one to choose
the proper course of action and for
one to find the proper direction of his life
his perspective must be that of
the Vietnamese, the poor, the blacks, suffering humanity;

Because I have not forgotten
the war,
the deaths of others
my responsibilities as a man,
the crimes committed, the lives violated,
the children burned, the women raped,
the men disemboweled, the villages leveled,
the rain of fire from the air;

Because I have learned in prison
of the suffering caused by prison,
of the injustice, the ill-treatment,
the lifelessness, the misery,
the broken marriages, the broken homes,
the broken—or breaking up—lives;

Because I believe, as Bonhoeffer,
that “real generosity toward the future
lies in
giving all to the present;”

I continue to do what
must be done.
With joy and a sense of liberation
and community
Well aware of the personal costs
and the sufferings
certain to be my lot.

Through that joy
and that suffering,
I draw closer to my brothers and sisters
Under the Bombs, In the Cities, In the Prisons.

I offer them hope.

My mind is at peace.