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Letters from death row | Poem

9 July 1999
       "I was speaking with an old friend of mine the other day. He's a con of the old school, in his late 60's, has been in prison 35 years, dying of various ailments, and really has few people he allows to contact him from the streets. He is a private man. His life of crime was as one of the Good Fellows back in the days when few like him lived long. Truck heists, hits, twitchin' the nose, ethnic brothers, et cetera. We were speaking of the year I'd had*, and he told me that he learned long ago to let all care go. He said you have to learn to not care about if family or friends ever contact you, about whether you get adequate medical care, about the many cell changes you may experience, about the food, et cetera. He said, you have to learn to not care about anything at all. You get up each day, enjoy it best you can, then whatever comes just take it and not care either way about it. Somehow Summer, I think maybe he's right. It's best not to care when you're here. 

       "Of course, being such a way would seem to run the danger of becoming "unfeeling", which is something I think scares me more. I would hate to lose my ability to cry or be touched by compassion for others, for then I would truly feel dead to life. The key, I guess, is to grasp the ability to not care about any of one's own personal experiences, whether they be positive or negative; but yet, evolve a deepening ability to be touched by the needs and cares of others. Perhaps this is a part of the necessary maturing to our inward being."

- William C. Payton
*     This past year Mr. Payton has lost his wife, found out he had hepatitis C and had a manuscript stolen.

to William
to Moongate

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