Life Lines is an audio journal of poetry, spoken word, and other creative writing by men on Death Row, USA. Contributors live on Death Rows in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Life Lines is about connection. It’s about finding surprising spaces to share endangered, beautiful life. It’s about recognizing our power and our powerlessness to give and take life.
We feature three new pieces each week, words which we hope invite communion, however limited and imperfect, with those struggling to live inside state prisons.
Because of state laws restricting access to prisons, the authors record these poems by phone. As you listen carefully, let the line static become a reminder of all the lines – race, class, iron bars and barbed wire – we’ve constructed between ourselves. If we allow them, these pieces can open new, shared spaces for us in spite of these boundaries, if only for a moment. Take a chance with us: listen.
#105 A bucket of chicken
I could tackle the whole world like Atlas, with greasy lips and a full stomach.
#104 Story of mine
Every picture has the touch of a dream
#103 Carrying my side of the plexiglass
Almighty Creator, although I’m not worthy, grant me the peace of awakening within the warmth of all of your splendor.
#102 Conversation with a dear friend
So what we came to find out, basically, is that life is worth living.
#101 Breaking news
I've watched the hole petrify pretense, making men fake forever
#100 The timestretcher
It's like having a pot dropped over your head and a wooden spoon is pounding the rhythm of the Star-Spangled Banner into your eardrums. You know the tune so well, but you just don't want to hear it.
Voices that ought to be heard
We are all human. We all deserve our voices to be heard. The Life Lines Collective has worked to bring voice to the voiceless.
No one is free until all are free
Grateful for the Life Lines Collective and the courage of these writers. They give human voices to the epidemic of mass incarceration and help us question our place in a throwaway society.
In the words of Assata Shakur:
We have a duty to fight for our freedom
We have a duty to win
We must love and care for one another
We have nothing to lose but our chains
These short snippets offer a sobering glimpse into our prison system. Beautifully done, every one. Thank you.