Go On

Examining the California SAFE Act

By: Spoon Jackson

I cannot go on like this
But I will go on –
on and on, even when
on is off.
Something is stirring
in my soul, wanting
to burst out like
a hot spring in the desert
wanting to come out
and I don’t know
what it is – in the moment
I hope it’s a poem
I hope it’s a song.
Something vast like Euripides
Something wise and funny
like Aristophanes
Something deep like Langston Hughes
So deep in the seas
where no light goes.
I know what it is
I want to create my way
off this lockdown
and write my way
out of prison
They allowed redemption
once, but now only condemnation.
I cannot go on
but I will go on –
on and on even when
on becomes off.
Melancholic and sad
They are letting some
lifers go home
some I have known for a lifetime
and that is a good thing.
Yet there is no end in sight for me
and I don’t know
anymore where to go
to get strength to go on.
I don’t know where
to go to leave
this sadness and pain
and make my heart sing again
and make my spirit soar again
Everywhere I look
there is a big sign
that says no –
No forgiveness, no love,
no hope, no second chance,
no dreams and no romance.
I cannot go on
but I will go on –
and on and on even when
on becomes off.
But I have nowhere
to go
Nowhere that says
Yes, it’s okay to dream
for some come true
Yes, it’s okay to hope
for freedom is free
Yes, it’s okay to love
for love can be true.

This is a poem written by Spoon Jackson, who is serving a life without parole sentence in California. We thought it was appropriate to post here as it expresses the emotion that those serving that sentence face. Spoon Jackson is a poet, writer, and actor. He teaches art; loves nature; has published two books; has been featured in film, plays, articles, books, and music suites. You can write to Spoon:

Spoon Jackson B92377, C3-119, CSP-SAC,

PO Box 290066

Represa, CA 95671-0066



In November, the people of California will be voting on a ballot measure that could repeal the death penalty there. Since it won a place on the ballot, the SAFE Act has been a topic of discussion and important debate among criminal justice reform activists.

  The measure has the potential to take over 700 people off death row in one of the largest death penalty states - yet the "tough on crime" proposals at the heart of the SAFE Act are leading a growing number of activists to turn against it.

0ver the next several months the Campaign to End the Death Penalty will be providing a forum about this debate on our website through a new blog titled "Examining the Califonia SAFE Act."

This blog project aims to collect various news articles, editorials and especially prisoners writing about this initiative.  We would love folks to send our way any articles or writings that you think will add to this discussion.  Contact us at randi@nodeathpenalty.org or lily@nodeathpenalty.org