Sunday, April 13, 2014

Doing What You Do


Former South African President, Nelson Mandela once said, “Forgiveness liberates the soul.”  Allow me to display the power within these immortal words:

William Little was the product of the 80’s crack era.  Gold chains, fly kicks, and the tightest whips were the goals of a young hustler seeking the street acclaim of his or her peers. 

“No one expected to live long.  Everyone expected to dress well.” Back then; a hustler lived for the day.  Tomorrow would work itself out.  Feel me?

William Little served 10 years in prison for the murder of Lamont Hatton’s younger brother.  Lamont Hatton was intent on avenging his brother’s murder.  For more than a decade, he watched his brother’s killer walking around their South Philly neighborhood as a community hero, speaking out against gun violence.  “My mentality at the time was either kill me, or I’ll kill you – I don’t care,” Little said.

Lamont Hatton spent many days in the barbershop where Little was employed.  Without Little knowing who Lamont was, the brother of his victim was able to covertly stalk him.  

Eventually, Lamont realized he would be doing his community’s youth a disservice by servicing his own selfish needs for vengeance. “I remember thinking, I’m no angel.  People forgave me.  Why can’t I forgive Will?  I can be around this brother now.  I don’t have no hatred.”

Lamont watched Will run after school mentoring sessions throughout the city.  He watched Little lead hardcore poetry slams that dramatized life-changing choices with the realness of a man finding new life.

As I write this, I can’t help but think of the grave lengths the state of North Carolina is going through to cause and witness my death.  My covert stalkers are willing to spend millions of dollars for my state sanctioned execution.  

The combination of meals, appeals, medical expenses and housing makes the common taxpayer a prisoner as well.  The practice of capital punishment covertly stalks the prisoner within the walls, and the prisoner living outside the parameters of the concrete box.

Human beings are designed to forgive.  It’s what we do.  The story of William Little is proof that even killing can be forgiven.  False accusations can be forgiven as well – even if the false accusation leads to the wrongful conviction and state sanctioned murder of a Mann striving for blind justice.

There’s no way I can say this enough:  I DON’T WANT TO DIE.  However, spending the rest of my life in prison, for a murder I didn’t commit, is not a relief from my present circumstance.  I refuse to be content with not being executed.  I’ll simple keep doing what I do until my day do freedom arrives.  Writing and forgiving.

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul, by making me hate him.”
Booker T. Washington
Former Presidential Advisor, Abolitionist and Author

Still Livin,’


Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, April 6, 2014


“The distance between you and success isn’t necessarily a yard – it’s an inch.  But to get that final inch is excruciating.  You have to stay committed.”
Will Smith
Reknown Actor


I’m not a mechanic, in the traditional sense, but I would guess that a person who possesses the skills to disassemble an engine – remedy the problematic functions, then return the engine to its full integrity – probably feels a strong sense of achievement when the engine turns over without the slightest hint of imperfection.  Writing brings me a similar sense of achievement.

Sharing my creations hasn’t always been a rewarding experience.  At times, I’ve felt like the only English speaking person in a foreign land.  Some of my works have been misconstrued as insulting and offensive for whatever reasons.  Some warm-hearted individuals have labeled me a wannabe thug or the worst kind of criminal, but my FFLOW continues to turn the socket wrench that remedies the problematic functions of my past.  So listen to this rhythmic rumble of an engine climbing a mountainous circumstance, and gaining momentum:

Honing this gift the Creator has given me, I think it’s important for the detractors of this platform of positivity, to know that your opinion of me is not my opinion of myself.  You may label me to be nothing more than a rusty, old 1979 Honda Civic.  No matter.  My drive for success roars like the engine of a 2014 Cadillac CTS. Na mean?

I recently had an in depth discussion with my editor about this 4th year of W2TM.  Her sense of direction has been my GPS to the ear of the masses.  She will continue to give me the green light to debate the injustice of capital punishment as if I was sitting at a dinner table – talking with my closest friends.

Because of this, I no longer try to voice my opinion.  No longer do I try to be heard.  At this stage of the game, I realize that trying is just a noble way of describing failure.  This 4th year of W2TM will exhibit my most diligent efforts of simply “doin’ it.”  Ya heard?

Seven of this year’s first 11 posts were written by some of my fellow writers who share this struggle of reproof.  These writers have come to know the sense of achievement behind the ink that breaks down the barriers of our existence.

The guest writers of 2k14 know the pride of my FFLOW (Fanatical Fist Lights Out Wordplay).  And it’s proven to be contagious.  The many hours I spend holding an ink pen has a tendency to cramp my hand, when my tool of the trade is no longer in use.  Sometimes, to the extreme of drawing my hand into the shape of a fist, a mere reminder that I’m a fanatic with the pen.  So, if I’m bearing a fist, due to writing, it’s only right that my wordplay, pack a punch that’s lights out.  Know this!

So enjoy this ride.  The maintenance on this engine is always up-to-par, because my toolbox is never closed.

Still Livin,’

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Man

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Poetry Slam Volume 3: Unreachable Love


This next poet is no stranger to W2TM or BTWF.  As a barber, he does an impeccable job of keeping my image tight.  

As a writer, he's in a class all by himself.  Blogosphere, welcome to Bucktown.

Your MannofStat

Two and a half months ago, an experimental reading and writing workshop was offered to us here on death row.  It is appropriately called "writing from captivity." Initially I was reluctant to participate; especially considering the workshop is being supervised by the manager of the prison's psychological program.  No way was I going to give the prison administration a 'free' opportunity to psychoanalyze me.

That could work against me considering I'm in the midst of my appeals and anything I say or do can be used against me.  But then I thought about it and considered the possibility of the workshop being of some benefit to me.  After all, I do consider myself a writer and I'm always working on improving my writing skills.

Well, I signed up for the workshop and I'm glad I did.  It is one of the most enlightening experiences I have ever had.  "Writing from captivity" is about more than just writings from people who are incarcerated, its about expressing thoughts and emotions that are held captive inside of us.  

You see, being incarcerated, our opportunities to tell people what we think and how we feel are limited - relegated even, to being written down.  It is said that words are power.  Well, being in such a powerless situation as incarceration, writing gives us the best power of expression available.  Otherwise, we would not be heard.

This workshop has helped me see this better.  So I repeat, it is one of my most enlightening experiences.  I say this for several reasons, but for the sake of brevity I'll only give two.  The first is the book "Man's Search for Meaning," by Victor Frankl.  Its an autobiographical account of his experience in the Nazi concentration camps of World War II - not so much how he survived it, which was miraculous, but rather how he endured it.  

The second reason is the heavy focus on poetry.  My understanding of poetry is, it is simply an artful way of expressing one's emotions and/or thoughts. Even more, it draws out the true individual, the part of them that is rarely seen.

Thoughts run rampant in a place like this and writing is a therapeutic process that we all employ consciously or not.  As one who does so consciously, I'm glad the workshop is being given.  It has inspired me and increased my passion for writing.  Literally "writing from captivity." This doesn't have to be a bane.  It can be a golden opportunity to reach out beyond captivity.


Unreachable Love

For the life of me I can't seem to crack the code
Find the key to your heart even more mines won't let go 
of thoughts of you despite your aloofness
The signs that my efforts to connect with you are useless
What are you, a voodoo priestess? 
Who has cast a spell on me with your essential sweetness
My heart is a prisoner of your memory
Longing for just a glimpse of your energy
A synergistic connection
A semblance of your affection
A moment to bask in the glow of your enchanting eyes
A distant vision of your hypnotic stride
To have the melody of your voice caress my ears
It would be sublime to hold you near
Ahhh hopes and dreams they seldom come true
But despite my knowledge of this I can stop thinking of you

Copyright (c) 2013 by Rodney Taylor

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Poetry Slam Volume 2: Cemetery in the Flesh


You never know what’s on a man’s mind.  Oft times, public perception can contribute to the malfunction of what it means to “Man up.” For me, “Man up” can best be defined as facing your fears and acknowledging your flaws.  Poetry can be the antidote.  The writers of the row reached a growth spurt on 9/25/2013.  Our poetry slam was undeniably, “Slammin!” Ya heard?

Big Bank is the consummate “Glue-guy” of the row.  He wears the hats of spiritual adviser, civics analyst, lyricist and death row b-ball referee.  And let me say; he’s well spoken in all of the above.  Word is bond!!

I instinctively selected Big Bank to follow-up my recital of “Where Would I Be,” because there’s fire in his pen.  I had no doubts that he’d keep the poetic momentum going.  As a first time guest, on this W2TM platform, I ask that you push public perception aside and feel the truth as it was felt during our poetry slam.  Aight?

From this moment, you’re now in the space of the man the row knows as Big Bank.  The stage is yours, Dunn.

Always 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann


Cemetery in the Flesh

They say a coward dies a million times
Well I guess I’ve died a million one
You see, every time my spirit dies from fear
It’s just like killing one

Scared of what other people might think
Being afraid they might laugh or berate
Made me hide the truth inside
Wanting to be something I can’t

Trying to be things that I ain’t
Living lies ashamed of my fate
So every time my spirit would rise
I’d kill it cause it was me that I hate

But this is murder nonetheless
Now I’m a Cemetery in the Flesh…

Big Bank
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Braxton