Poem by PCAP Member Tim Hurley

12 Mar

About the guest blogger: Tim Hurley has written throughout his professional life as a civil servant, though publishing would be 40 years in the making. Incarcerated twice, some 15 years apart, Tim took a Creative Writing class while on a second sabbatical with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Life experiences that inspire his writing include nine jails, two prisons terms, five near-death overdoses, seven total car wrecks, two cults, seven inpatient treatments for addiction, three blown careers, one divorce, and two wounded sons.  His poem “Earl The Pearl” is in memory of Earl Cross and dedicated to his two sons Tim & Josh, and those in Holland that were hurt and left swirling & twirling in the wake of his sin & madness.

EARL THE PEARL
timothy e. hurley

our first meeting…a warm greeting
the pearl bore witness…polished & stoned
sautéed & seasoned…no longer free
bereft of all reason…a cell on tier three
in the jackson cage

flopping like a fish…on a dry river bank
a desperate wish…earl took pity
a place so oppressive…mayor of jack-town city
assigned numbers & neighbors…earl dug this sailor
the cross a rock-boss

no, more like a tailor…sewing up failures
in a small, safe ‘hood…where no one dared
to cross Cross…or mess with hurls
earl looked out…when good lookin’ was needed

down twenty-five to life…a reluctant plea
came home to his wife…a little to early
a site to behold…drove earl squirrely
some punk…biblically knowing
the bride of his youth…everything showing
in their wedding bed

earl whipped out a heater…shot him in his ass
he didn’t beat her…even gave her a pass
his rage exploding…wrong or right
snuffed out a life…leaving behind
two wounded sons…and one horny wife

the hurls could relate…we had that in common
surviving as clowns…for a life mostly down
devoid of dignity…or semblance
of any respect…a fight for survival
our lives a shipwreck

earl knew the drill…with panache’ and style
put the “ch” in chill…but it took me awhile

i was pearl’s nigga’…his words not mines
so try to relax…with your PC crimes
that can’t see past…the nose of your face
a condescending finger…having no place
devoid of grace…in the jackson cage

black & white no barrier…what a team we made
ain’t no thang…but a chicken wang
we banged hard…confounding the guards
earl would smile and say…”fuck those bitches today”
was his attempt to riff off…my twelve steppin’ ways

but earl got high…it made no sense
iron sharpening iron…cutting a fence
that otherwise kept…two men from knowing
how precious it is…grace like rain flowing

when brethren commenced …empathy dispensed
no time for those meetings…i gots this in hand
but earl had time for…stuff that was banned
as a matter of course…he’d gladly trade
a carton of squares….for a small bag of horse
copped on the yard…smuggled in by rogue guards
for a shot of nirvana…in the smelly sauna
of the jackson cage

laughing so hard…gosh was he funny
earl schemed hard….playing a card
a 30 gallon can…gettin’ over on the man
cooking in his cell…belching putrid smells
defiant when busted
sent to the hole for a season
released but not trusted…for very good reason

he did it again…second time’s a charm
mason jars…filled with scars
souls laid bare…eight ounce drinks
for packs of squares…to stop the thinks
and ease the pain…that living brings

while grace was present…for hurls to refrain
it sure was tempting…saving the brain
every cell screaming…for chemical salvation
psychotic dreamin’…one foot in heaven…clanging the bell
while entombed in a jackson prison cell 

men would tussle…in cell-block one north
on gallery three…working a hustle
earl ran numbers…the hurls would type
way before learning…rejecting all hype
a major ticket…had to quit it
resignation tendered…for services rendered
pearl just smiled…in a place so vile
invoking yellow bile…toxic shame and remorse
stacked in piles…against cold tiles

where all we could do…at the end of a day
finding solace in the word…on knees we prayed
tough guys calling…that’s how we rolled
God funneled grace…to the face of our souls

on cold cement bawling…we cried for a touch
from the King of all kings…grown men crawling
heard earl scream once…a letter from home
hit like a punch…a black face drenched
with tears of remorse…for sons now gone

contenders now pretenders…on the brink of abyss
tortured souls…now smelling like,one-day-old piss
“your boys need you hurls! get out my man!”
good word on that one…this cage was no fun

a promise kept…fifteen years later
sobriety lost priority…freedom swept
by tsunamis of addiction…building off coast
smashing the shores…of those who loved most
taking the hit…of a second bit

thought of him often…a hard man softened
earl was my POTUS…later found out through OTIS
life bended was ended…in the jackson cage
crushed heart in pieces…hep c releases
to life eternal…no burning infernal

earl was my brother…with more faith, balls & class
than most guys I’ve known…in any church service or mass
never would yelp…strapped on a big pair
knew from whence came his help…in that evil lair
a visual remains…a big drum of spud
like a bear with her cubs…protecting the suds
from scandalous buds…a gurgling crud
to break chains and annihilate brains

with societal misdeeds…in spite of the loss
earl lived by a creed…and shouldered his cross
old-school to most…never one to boast
with faith so deep…it could keep
spirits revived and souls psychedelicized 

pearl oft would say…as a greeting of sorts
”You’s a crazy muthafucka’ hurls”
a boat sinking in port…most might not dissent
the epitome of sorry…irish gone wild
a god-awful safari

earl’s pot calling…this white boy black
once prostrated on altars…of smack, jack & crack
an unholy trinity…removed from divinity
stopped from falling…sprung from hells
and cells with chipped paint
a neighbor I knew as some kind of saint

fighting a crew…human auctions of flesh
we made it through…redeemed from death
now it hardly seems true…on these streets called straight
God’s skies of blue…overcoming self-hate
rescued from the flood…by the Lamb’s shed blood
recidivism no option…a secured adoption
never again having to taste
the rage
of that jackson cage

 

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