“WITH THAT MOON LANGUAGE”

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                                        SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

“WITH THAT MOON LANGUAGE”

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me”.

Of course you do not say this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, the great pull in us to connect

Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying,

With that sweet moon language, what every other eye in the world is dying to hear?

–Hafiz

 

For the past couple of days I’ve been thinking about one important question. Who am I? What is my essential nature as a human being? What is my role in the universe? How should I live? As I ponder these questions and search for the answers I come across an even more important question: What do I really want?

I believe the answer to that question will require me to go deep within myself examining my deepest longings, hopes and needs and what makes me happy. Because we are all defined by what makes us happy and the answer to the latter question will give me insight into the first.

On its face the answer to this question might seem simple or easily found. We all want to be rich, or beautiful or thin or famous. But if you really look deeply into those answers the absolute truth can be found. We want to be rich because we think we can buy love. We want to be beautiful and thin because if we are “perfect physically” we’ll find true love then. And we desire fame for the same reason – the whole world would love us then!

I believe that more than anything we all want to love and be loved in return. Nothing in the world feels better than being loved and having another accept our love. Love is so critical to our well-being that we will try and fill the hole that is within us if we do not have love with drugs, alcohol, food and all kinds of other things in life. We are everything with love and nothing without it.

Knowing what we really want in life is very important to our health in general. When we know what we really want in life we automatically put ourselves to work for the good which benefits both ourselves and others. Because when we know what truly makes us happy there is no conflict between ourselves and others. And when we are truly happy and loved we have the ability to show love and kindness to others even when they seek to do us harm or wish us ill will.

Conversely, when we misunderstand our true needs and think we are well served by greed, aggression and indifference we harm ourselves and those around us. Believe me when I say this – I have been there and done that.

I have been on Texas death row for 20 years now and looking back at who I was when I first arrived I do not think I knew what I really wanted and needed to make me happy. And unfortunately, so many other suffering souls in this terrible place are lost when it comes to knowing what they want and need. And it’s just about impossible to try and “enlighten” another hard-headed guy on Texas death row on what he really needs. We’re all stubborn and hard-headed – that’s part of the reason why we are here.

Discovering what we really want is a life lesson that we almost always have to learn on our own. And if we are blessed, at some point, we realize the truth in this matter.

I sometimes think about my relationships when I was young before I was sent to Texas death row and how even then when I loved someone, family member, friend or girlfriend, I was moved to do things for them – to show my love through actions. Before I knew what was really going on I was still driven by the need to try and express my love through deeds. Why was it like this for me?  I know now that it was because I want and need others to be happy.

If the people I am close to are happy then I am happy and on a base level this shows me that I am a loving person. That we as human beings are loving because just about everyone feels as I do on some level. So it is true for the society we live in, be it in the free world in your community, or here in my society on Texas death row. And what does this tell us about ourselves? That we are not separate and our well being and those who are around us are interdependent.

These are the conclusions I come to as I think about life on Texas death row. Each day I try to live by what I preach – kindness and compassion. And as you might expect there are more than a few rascals in my community who make it extremely difficult to love and show kindness and compassion to. And there are a few that I do not like at all. But this is how the world is in general – it’s easy to love those who love us in return. What builds character is showing kindness and compassion to those who make it difficult to do so and not try to harm or wish ill will upon those you do not like. Instead, I try to be my best self every morning that I can by starting my day with time in meditation and prayer sending every suffering soul on Texas death row and death rows across the world positive healing energy and the strength and courage to get through whatever they are going through. Then I send the same to those in the free world. And this small act has incredible healing power. It has a dual benefit as it helps those who I send it out to, friend and foe alike, and it also helps me because what does you good does me good as well.

The world would be a better place as a whole if more of us could learn to communicate with that wonderful amazing moon language!

LOVE PEACE & HOPE!

Charles Don Flores #999299

Texas death row

September 15, 2018

 

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS – SEPTEMBER 2, 2018.

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                                                                 SEPTEMBER 2, 2018.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club”. Jack London.

It’s hard to be a human being. Whether you live a life of privilege and luxury, or find yourself confined on Texas death row, you’re still subject to the same things – aging, illness and death. I’ve never lived a life of privilege and luxury so I can only imagine what that might be like, but I have intimate knowledge about life on Texas death row. For I am a Texas death row prisoner. And on the best of days the reality of being held in this new age death camp is a challenge. On the worst days, it’s a full-blown crisis.

As we all know it’s extremely difficult to maintain your ability to function in the midst of a crisis. For me, half of the time I do not know what the cause of the crisis is. It might be some nasty surprise that blindsided me, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s all kinds of unresolved trauma, fear, anxiety, ego and stress that lies below the surface.

And let me tell you, it’s often difficult to understand what’s happening when you live life in solitary confinement – isolated from those you love and trust the most. There is not one soul on Texas death row that is not suffering from trauma and unresolved issues. Even if you had a billion dollars and had everything you could dream of while on Texas death row, you’d still be subjected to traumatic events on a daily basis. You are in a slaughter house where people you know – many you call friends – are being murdered in the name of [in]injustice. But I digress…

It’s a fact that our hearts yearn for happiness, and to be loved and to love others. But when the wheels come off our lives, we are forced to create survival strategies to protect ourselves from suffering. One of the most common defenses we create is to wall off our hearts from further pain. But to do this has negative “side effects”. We become numb and withdrawn, or sad and depressed. Or anxious, fearful, angry and hostile.

It’s easy to describe what’s happening when you are not stuck in that terrible cycle which for me includes all of the above. When I’m in the middle of a full-blown crisis, I am all too often bewildered in the worst way, as if I’m in the middle of a huge sandstorm and can’t see, hear or smell. When it’s like this for me my defenses are up and I feel my mind and body being flooded with adrenaline – ready to flee or fight. And those who know me well know that I do no running. So it is with me when I am caught in this cycle of negativity and the end result is I get stuck.

For the past several months, I seem to have lost my voice and those who have been paying attention will know that I have not posted any new writings in this time. For me to be able to write, I must be at full strength to gather and maintain the focus, energy and motivation I need to share my thoughts in written form. If I’m not in that space then the well is dry.

When the well runs dry on me this means that I am in full-blown crisis mode and I must find the reason for this latest and greatest calamity and deal with it immediately. Because no matter how angry I am, or how traumatized I’ve become I cannot fall back into “freeze mode”. I cannot remain silent, numb, sad and depressed. No, I must make space within me to back away from whatever the issue is and deal with it. I must create clarity in regards to what has transpired in the external world that has sent me into this downward spiral and address it. Nothing less is acceptable. Because my deeds are the ground on which I stand and I must at all costs stop reacting and gather myself and be present to what’s happening – then deal with it.

I think about the past 20 years that I’ve been incarcerated on Texas death row and how the “school of life” has continued to teach me the lessons that I would need to survive. I remain grateful for this experience in this lifetime because without it I would not have learned these critical lessons. One such lesson is that God/Universe is always paying attention to your condition. And She knows when you are injured but still participating in the “game of life”. And when you are injured – in pain and suffering – one of the best things you can do is help another suffering soul. If you can rise to that level you’ve done a great good and both of you will be healed – sometimes just a little, other times a lot. And both of you will come away from the interaction as healthier human beings.

Recently a beloved forever friend has suffered a great loss in her life and things are not easy for her. And when she is having difficulties it affects me as well. And my nature is that I must help those I care for – that’s who I am plain and simple. Me and my forever friend have been discussing a writing project for about a year now. And not too long ago she asked me to write for her about the characters that will star in our book to give her something to think about when she’s not thinking about anything else and I agreed. At that point in my life I was up and down but I was being kind of sneaky and not telling anyone because I’m a tuff bear, don’t you know?!! So at that particular point and time I was unable to write because I could not find my voice. And life continued serving me ups and downs until she experienced this big loss and knowing she’s hurting affected me greatly. For me, not finding a way to help her was unacceptable. No matter how sucky I felt, no matter how much I was feeling “woe is me”, I HAD to be there for my friend!

So I did it. I sat my butt down and I began to write for her. The first character biography I wrote was 6 pages long. The next was 5 pages long and I could not believe it – once I started, the story just leaped out of me. I loved it! And I love the thought of my forever friend getting what she asked me for and being able to focus on that and not the other.

And an amazing thing happened when I was able to help my friend in the midst of my suffering – I healed myself. I created the space I needed to figure out what in the hell was wrong with me. It’s nothing new it can be summed up with being on Texas death row for 20 years. There’s always going to be issues, that’s just the way this thing called life is and there’s nothing unusual about that.

About 3 weeks ago me and the rest of the guys who were on my section on B-pod won the lottery in reverse! We were all moved to A-pod. We went from a cool section to one that’s burning up as the sun sets on our back wall. The radio antenna did not and I’m literally 10 feet away from death watch. It is in the next section to ours.

At first it was awful and just about unbearable. I was on death watch for 5 months in 2016, and this is the last place I want or need to be. But as the days went by, things began to improve. They repaired the cooling system so I no longer have to sleep on the concrete floor to keep from sweating all night long. Then they got the radio antenna working more or less as it should. And these improvements gave me the distance and perspective I needed. Compared to what the brothers are going through on death watch – my situation is workable. Yeah it sucks but I can deal with it, and I have. I’ve increased my efforts to maintain my spiritual practice – meditation and prayer, doing more exercise and am building on the success of finding my voice for my little forever friend. And while my voice is not perfect and flowing effortlessly as I write this latest entry – it’s there and I am grateful for it. I am continually reminding myself that I am very blessed and super grateful for each blessing in my life. Because I can’t go wrong living my life in gratitude and neither can you.

And you know sometimes you can’t wait for inspiration – or the answer to your woes, you have to go after it with a club!

Love peace & hope!

Charles D. Flores #999299

Texas Death Row

September 2, 2018.

 

WORRY…

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                        MAY 26, 2018.

“WORRY…”

I sometimes think of my twenty-year-old self and am amazed that back then I had few things in my life that caused me worry. I was young, strong, had a job with a few dollars in my pocket and thought I was going to live forever. Because when we’re young we all think that we’ll be here for eternity. And for reasons unknown I could not see that the path that I was on would lead me to find myself locked in a cell for the next twenty years on Texas death row.

My father had a cousin named Rudy who was about the same age as Dad. By the time my father was in his mid-twenties he had himself together and knew what he wanted out of his life but Rudy did not. Every now and then, Dad would run across ole Rudy and try to encourage him to get his self together and do better with his life. And Rudy would tell Dad that he had himself together! He was smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, had twenty dollars in his pocket – he was doing great! My father would always tell this story with a rueful chuckle and a shake of his head at Rudy’s inability to recognize the need for change. And of course me and my brothers would laugh at Rudy for being crazy and thinking he was just fine living day to day on that party lifestyle.

It was not until years later while on Texas death row that I came to the realization that when I was a young adult, I had a lot in common with ole Rudy! I was also smoking and drinking, had a few bucks in my pocket and in my mind life was great! What’s there to worry about or change?!

Fast forward to life on death row nearly thirty years later and let me tell you that I have plenty to bang my head against the wall and worry about. The fact of the matter is that life in general is stressful no matter where you find yourself and will cause us anxiety if we allow it to. The things I struggle with the most are worries about my mother and her well-being as she recently celebrated her eightieth birthday. I also worry about other family and friends who I’ve come to know and care about very much. Maybe their home environment is not the best, or they are struggling with their health or job security. Because I’m locked in a cell and held incommunicado, the unknown is HUGE in my life and all too often threatens to steal my sanity. If my loved one does not let me know what’s happening in a card, a jpay or letter, the worry and great unknown is extremely difficult to cope with.

Because I’ve been confined in a cell for almost two decades, I know myself very well. It’s either get to know who you really are – the good and bad – or live in denial. And in all my years that I’ve seen I’ve never been one to have balanced emotions. If you are my friend and I care about you, I REALLY care about you and will do anything for you. And if you’re not my favorite person, do not concern yourself with my trying to befriend you – it’s not going to happen!

The downside to this is the worry that I sometimes have when I do not know what’s happening in my loved one’s life. One thing that I’ve had issues with in the past is when someone is planning to visit and arrives late, my thoughts run wild as I create all sorts of “doomsday” scenarios on what’s happened to them and why they’ve not arrived. Their vehicle broke down, they had a flat tire or even a car crash! For years I’ve struggled with this and noticed that after experiencing extensive traumatic events (like having an execution date and living on death watch for five months!), this issue seemed to get worse.

One week-end two friends came to visit me and I shared my problem with them. I told them that Saturday visitation on Texas death row is the most stressful for me because it is the only day death row prisoners are escorted to the visitation room before the visitors arrive. For me the entire day was a pressure cooker because I’d begin to think about my friends and knew they’d be traveling a long distance to visit and what if they didn’t make it? What if they had a flat tire or broke down, what if, what if????! By the time the actual visitation time comes I’m worn out by this intense worry and stress.

To my amazement, one of my friends explained to me what I was experiencing. These are called intrusive thoughts and whenever we have them we must let them run their course – then she gave me an example. If they had car trouble they would call a tow service who would come help them and everyone would be okay and they’d get home safe and sound and there would be no reason to worry.

When she told me this, it was so liberating. It felt like a five-thousand-pound weight was lifted from my shoulders – it was amazing to me how she knew what was happening to me and gave me the manner in which to deal with it.

This was such a blessing for me. Since then I have used this coping skill with so many situations that involve me being bombarded with intrusive thoughts. And believe me – so many things can cause intrusive thoughts! Because in reality I have no control over so many aspects of my life and that’s scary. That is why spiritual practice – prayer and meditation – is so important to me. Through spiritual practice I am able to maintain my balance and center and have complete faith that everything will turn out for the best.

I think it is incredible how the school of life is forever in session and I’ve learned such critical lessons as a result of being confined on Texas death row. This is just another reason why I believe we’re all going through what we’re going through to get to where we’re going in life. And from this point of view, I can give thanks for the experiences that I lived through in the past twenty years of my life.

It is these experiences that have caused me to realize what is important in life and focus on the essentials. And above all things work at being the best human being that I can be. Because we can all learn to be a little kinder and a little gentler to one another and if we can do that the world will be a better place. And that’s the kind of world I’d like to live in. How about you?!

LOVE PEACE HOPE & LAUGHTER!

Charles Don Flores # 999299

Texas death row

May 26, 2018.

Where do you find inspiration?

DEATH ROW NEWS – May 19, 2018

Where do you find inspiration?

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well” – Diane Ackerman

On most days, I wake each morning beginning with time spent in meditation and prayer with special emphasis on my brothers who are on death watch facing an execution date. For those who have never lived through the experience of having death standing at your door, waiting on a set date to come in for you, you can never truly comprehend it. It’s as if the government had put you on a run-away train and then erected an indestructible barrier on the tracks. Now, this barrier might be so far ahead that you can’t see it because your scheduled execution date is months away, or it might be in plain sight because you are weeks or days away from your date. The train is barreling down the tracks at full speed and if you don’t find a way to get off that train, or a way to remove the barrier, the train will crash into it and you will be dead.

There is no rhyme or reason with capital punishment – it is akin to being struck by lightning, we do not know who’ll be struck next.

We never know who might win a stay of execution, or who might be pushed out of existence by these devils in the State of Texas. I know – I lived 5 months on death watch in 2016. And in 2016, half the men who had execution dates lived and half were murdered in the name of justice.

Every morning I wake up and after I balance myself with deep breathing and find my center and the world seems to stand still as I go within myself, I take time to ask the Universe to please be with everyone on death row giving them the strength and courage to face their day. I also say a special prayer for the brothers on death watch. I send them love and positive energy along with strength and courage because I know what they are going through. When I do this, I also take time to remind myself that life is fleeting and impermanent, which makes it all the more precious because of it.

As I go within myself, in my mind, I see the brief friendships I had when I first arrived on Texas death row in 1999 with men who were executed shortly thereafter. I think of the friends I’ve known for 5 years or 10 years. I think of the guys I witnessed lose their life to the death machine in Texas when I was on death watch and I know there are no guarantees that any of us will have years or even decades of life ahead of us. While I’m in relative good health and still feel youthful (about half the time) I am not promised tomorrow. Life is such that one day we’re here and the next day we’re gone and the idea that “there will be time for that later” is uncertain to say the least. For me though, I’m invigorated, not depressed by this fact of life.

Years ago, I was blessed to learn the critical lesson that when we learn how to die, we learn how to live. Because the reality of death – that no one lives forever, we’re here for a moment in time then gone – burns away all the nonsense in life and allows us to focus on the essentials. In this way, the awareness that I have of death pushes me to not be idle. It reminds me to make the most of the precious gift of life, pushing myself to go that extra mile when I think I can go no further. To exert myself as much as I can working for the good and learning to be a kinder and gentler person for the benefit of all beings. Because I have complete control of this part of my life and how much I succeed or fail depends 100% on me. I have little control over most of the other areas in my life but in this area I’m in complete control.

In this way, the reality that death is part of life inspires me. It makes me want to be my best in everything I do, it’s the constant reminder that I’ve already lived half my life and if I’m blessed I might have 40 more years ahead of me and in those decades there is not one day  that I have to waste. Not only for myself, but for the other brothers who’ve been pushed out of existence by the State of Texas. I think of them and I know that I must live my life now and especially when free in such a way that they would be pleased with. So many that have lived and died on Texas death row never got another chance at freedom – and when I do I must live my life to the fullest.

Three days ago a close friend of mine named Juan Castillo was executed by the State of Texas. I’ve been thinking about that and trying to comprehend how a brother who I knew for 14 years and who I believe was innocent had had his life taken from him.

I will never understand why this happened to him so I’m not going to try and make sense of this legal murder.

I’m just going to remember my brother Juan Castillo and always speak well of him and carry his memory deep inside of me. Castillo was a very good person who was naturally kind to others. He’d always help someone in need and was just a good dude. These devils may have taken his life but they can never take away the kindness he shared with others and they can never take away the fact that everyone who knew Castillo will speak well of him and hold his memory in high regard.

The fact of the matter is that for the past 19 years, I have been confined on Texas death row for a crime I did not commit. And whether you’re as guilty as sin or innocent as a new born babe, make no mistake about it – this is a slaughter house. The killing is done in such a way that there is no blood or visible violence for the public to see; but these devils are killing us no doubt. And in these 19 years I have met some of my best and closest friends here on Texas death row, brothers who were guilty and also innocent of the crime they were sent to this hell on earth for, like Castillo. As a result I live with an awareness of death that never goes away and it is my choice to use this reality as an inspiration to live my life as best as I can as I continue to fight for justice and freedom.

For 5 months we’ve been waiting for the trial court judge to rule in my appeal. Very soon we’ll have the decision we’ve all been wanting in our favour and this will be the beginning of my exiting Texas death row for good.

The freedom train will leave the station and I will be on it! When I reach my goal and begin part II of my life forever free and far away from this terrible place, I will live each day to the fullest. I’ll be living for me and my brother Juan Castillo. I’ll be living for all the other brothers who never got that chance and I refuse to let them down. In this way their time on this earth and their fight for life and freedom will always be a continuing inspiration for me. I can do nothing less!

What inspires you? What makes you jump jump jump and race race race? Whatever it is, grab it tight and make it your fuel to live each and every day you see to the fullest!

Love Peace Hope & Freedom Soon!

Charles D. Flores No. 999299

Texas death row

May 19, 2018

 

Making the most of it…

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                                    May 5th 2018.

“MAKING THE MOST OF IT…”

“A mystic, Al Ghazali, was asked ‘what did you learn from your spiritual paths’

His reply was: ‘I learned two things, firstly, time is like a sword; if you don’t cut through it, it will cut you down. The second thing is if you do not put yourself to work for the good, it will preoccupy you with evil.’” – unknown

 

Texas death row had been on lockdown status for 17 days now and from the look of things this lockdown will last 3 weeks, maybe more. This type of 24 hours a day confinement in a 60 square foot space takes its toll upon the souls who are forced to endure it. One thing for sure, all of this “cell time” gives you lots of time to think and reflect upon life in general. And whether you’re on Texas death row or in Paris, France, life is what you make of it. If you allow yourself to focus only on the negative, and not actively seek out and engage in what will help you make it through, then things will be very difficult for you. But if you can take the lessons that life wants to teach you and accept whatever the situation is and work with it as best you can, then things will be much more positive. And if you can maintain this mindset, the path you travel upon will be much more productive, satisfying and certain.

One thing that I have come to realize and accept as an absolute truth in life is that we’re all going through what we’re going through to get where we’re going. This is especially true for those in dire situations such as being on Texas death row. Because it comes down to this – you’re here, now what are you going to do with your life?

I think back to when I was in my 20s, like my dad would say – I was something else! I was very stubborn and hardheaded and because I had older brothers who used to make me fight (to toughen me up!), I was not afraid of physical confrontation. Not to mention I’m not a small guy in anyway no one could tell me anything and make me listen. I’m not proud of this today – that’s just who I was back then. So being sent to Texas death row was a shock to say the least. For the first time in my life I was in a situation where I could not use physical aggression to solve my problems. No, instead life had sat my behind down and had my undivided attention and what was I going to do now?

I remember when the scales began to fall from my eyes, when I realized that I was someone whose feelings were easily hurt, which would cause me to lash out physically, a terrible habit I developed as a child. I also came to the understanding that I did not have the answers, that I could not do it alone and that I needed help. The help would come in all kinds of ways, through friends who taught me how to cope via correspondence, through books and even quotes like the one above.

The first time I read this quote I share today something inside me clicked into place. It was as if I was missing this piece of truth and wisdom and now that I had this instruction I had to do the best I could to live my life by it. Because I am in a situation where time is about the most difficult thing you must deal with. Time will crush you by passing slowly giving you too much of an opportunity to dwell upon all you’ve lost and when you’re locked up that’s all you think about until you realize doing that will drive you crazy.

Or time will fly by, years zooming by like months and before you know it you’re at the end of your appeals and these devils are setting an execution date for you to push you out of existence. These are the kinds of things that will drive you insane if you do not learn how to control yourself and in doing so breaking the ability that time has to cut you in two.

Putting myself to work for the good is one of the best decisions I have ever made. When you work for the good, you naturally attract positive energy into your life. You heal yourself because one of the best ways to get better when you’re hurt and suffering is to find a way to help others. Not to mention you take away any opportunity for evil to consume you.

I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to learn these lessons and put them to use in my life and thereby find a way to make it through this Texas death row experience and continue to learn and become a kinder person.

After the first week of being confined to my cell 24-7, I began to notice a sense of lethargy trying to settle in upon me. I began to feel sluggish, dull and drowsy and as that started to occur, I knew what was going on. That was the start of “clinical depression” resulting from being locked in a cage for a week, two even three weeks straight. And I had to do what I could to combat this unhealthy state of mind. Since that realization, I’ve been exercising in my cell for at least 30 minutes every day. I’ve also been reading spiritual/self-help themed books and staying true to my spiritual practice. Prayer and meditation is where it’s at for me. I don’t think I could endure the way I do without this spiritual practice that keeps me balanced and centered.

Since we’ve been caged up like wild animals for nearly 3 weeks now the food items most guys had bought from commissary are about gone. Times are getting tough for some of the guys who were not ready for lockdown. I’m thankful to say that I’m okay – I have what I need to survive. I like to tell my friends that I’m a “just in case” type of guy and because of this I’ve been preparing for lockdown for over a month.

A friend of mine near me was not so ready when lockdown began and this has allowed me to work for the good and share some of my “supplies” with him. Food, coffee, a few postage stamps – what we consider the necessities on Texas death row. I know what it’s like to be without what I need so I try to help others as much as I can thereby putting myself to work for the good. It also feels good to give another a helping hand, a fact of life I learned long ago.

I remember when I was a free man I was the kind of guy who would stop to help a stranded motorist I might see on the side of the road. I always had a tow-chain, tool box, hydraulic jack for lifting a vehicle to change a flat and jumper cables. So if we couldn’t start the car we could get it off the dangerous side of the road. It always felt good to help people I did not even know.

And let me tell you what comes around goes around – every time I found myself broken down on the side of the road not 5 minutes would pass before someone would stop to see how they could help me.

So it is here on Texas death row. I do what I can to help others around me and whenever I find myself on F-pod, or on commissary restriction my friends always go out of their way to help me and see that I have what I need. Life has taught me that when we help others it’s like making deposits in the bank of the universe and when we need help if we’ve been diligent about making deposits in the form of good deeds etc. when we need a helping hand it will always be there. Not to mention it feels great to know others care about you.

This is how we manage to make it through situations like lockdown. We look out for each other and share our blessings knowing we can’t go wrong when we take time to work for the good and help one another through the good times and bad on Texas death row.

Charles D. Flores N° 999299

Texas death row

May 5th, 2018

 

LOCKDOWN ON TEXAS DEATH ROW!!!

Death Row News – April 20, 2018.

LOCKDOWN ON TEXAS DEATH ROW!!!

Every 90 days, Texas death row located on Polunsky Unit is locked down. A lock down is when movement is suspended and death row prisoners are confined to their cells. There is no recreation and prisoners are allowed to shower 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No hot meals are provided when on lockdown; instead the men are given 3 brown paper sack meals per day that might contain a meat patty between 2 slices of bread, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and maybe a handful of raisins. Meanwhile the guards on Texas death row begin what is called a “shakedown”, starting on one side of the building working their way towards the other side, searching for anything they consider contraband. This search includes prisoners’ bodies and cells.

To be clear, security officials on Polunsky Unit do not give death row prisoners any notice or warning that a lockdown is approaching. From one day to the next, sometimes from one minute to the next, the warden decides we’re going on lockdown and everyone is immediately locked in their cells and every death row prisoner knows what’s coming next – shakedown!

Incarceration is one of the most traumatic experiences any human being can have. When you are put in jail or prison, your individual identity – your name is taken from you and you’re given a number. A friend once asked me, “What can I take with me when I go to prison?!” That question made me laugh because the answer is nothing except your naked behind. When you are locked up, it is the beginning of a fear-based systematic breakdown of who you are and how you have lived your life up until that point. Because for the duration that you’re incarcerated, you are literally at the mercy of your jailers. There is no such thing as privacy when you are arrested and jailed – during the “Bookin” process, you are ordered to strip naked so your body can be inspected for contraband. Your clothing and personal belongings are taken from you and in return you’re given state issued clothing and an identification number. If you refuse this order, the jailers will strip you naked by force so there is no hope of avoiding this extreme invasion of privacy.

One of the worst human rights violations Texas death row prisoners must endure is the invasion of privacy. Lockdown and the shakedown that comes with it is the most extreme form of this violation. We know at some point the guards will come and shake us down and this feeling of impending doom has a terrorizing effect that is intentional on us all. I know personally that I will be made to strip naked and after my body is inspected for contraband I will be handcuffed hands behind my back and removed from my cell wearing only a pair of boxers and plastic shower shows. Everything else that makes up my world is left behind in my cell while I’m locked in a shower on the other side of the pod and an unknown number of unidentified devils go into my cell and proceed to search through everything I own. Now imagine what might happen if one of these devils has a problem with me!

Personally, this is the most difficult invasion of privacy that I have to deal with here. Every time I am shaken down, I lose something. It might be an old magazine, or $100 worth of postage stamps – [Devils steal!]; I just know that I’ll lose something each time I am forced to endure this violation. The reason why this happens is because the guards are told by their supervisors to make sure they take something from every person they shake down as a terror tactic.

The threat of losing something every time these devils come into my private space is anxiety-causing to say the least. And what is anxiety if not the fear of every unknown possibility? And how else can a group of a couple of hundred guards control a group of over 2000 prisoners on Polunsky unit if not by the use of fear and terror tactics?

So all of this is intentional and a mind game with the goal of keeping us afraid so we cannot think of coming together as a group to bring about positive change in this new age death camp.

And we deal with this awful situation every 90 days….

On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, first shift guards arrived at 5:30 AM and instead of setting up recreation for the day, they just walked through doing a security check. From that moment, I knew we were on lockdown and the odds were that this was going to be a long one because this time around general population was slated to be shaken down too.

General population gets shaken down every 6 months which adds some 2,000 prisoners and the entire prison grounds to this process, so it’s safe to say that we’ll be on lockdown for 3 weeks

So these were my thoughts as I got out of bed and made myself a cup of coffee and continued to analyze the situation while listening to the morning news reports on the radio.

The great unknown about this situation is the fact that Texas death row prisoners do not know where the guards will begin the shakedown. Until they suddenly show up on a pod informing the guys they got 15 minutes to get ready, the situation is like a roulette wheel that has been spun, who knows what number the ball will fall on! And it’s a good idea to start getting ready just in case them devils show up on your pod telling you that you have 15 minutes to get ready!

At 8 A.M. the guard working the pod went to the section next to mine and yelled out at them “E-section! Get up and get ready for shakedown! They will be here to shake you down in 15 minutes! Get up and get ready!” My first thought was “Ooooh S@#T!” The next thought was: “I have 2-3 hours before they are here to shake me down!”and I sprang into action.

I had been thinking of what I needed to do to prepare for the shakedown and got right on that. I made sure my name and number were on all my new books, on my postage stamps, envelopes and photos. Then I started throwing out everything I did not absolutely need. I had a few old magazines and newspapers to throw out. All my personal property – books, photos, commissary, etc. must fit into the 2-foot x 4-foot property box they’ll put in my cell for me to pack all my things in.

Meanwhile, they ended up going to F-section to start the shakedown. About 15 minutes after the guard yelled out they were coming, the shakedown team was here standing in the walk space around the control picket and 10 minutes later they went into F-section – ready or not here they come!

While this was happening all the guys who were asleep in my section were suddenly awake asking what was going on?! Believe me, it’s no fun waking up to the news that you are about to be shaken down and have had no time to get ready. We quickly told the guys what was happening and to get ready! Here they come.

4 hours later I was ready. I had packed my property in that damned box and these devils had gotten all the cooperation they were going to get out of me. I laid down on the cold metal bunk and waited on them to come. What’s going to be stolen will be stolen and there’s nothing I can do about it. This was an intense, stress-filled moment for us – one that made everyone feel at minimum anxiety, and maybe even fear. For me, I do not appreciate any kind of situation that has been intentionally created to strike fear in my heart in order to control me. But I took deep breaths and kept telling myself the good thing is that it will be over in a few hours. In a few hours, these devils will be gone and by the look of things they were moving right along, so I’ll make it through no problem. I reminded myself to keep my eyes on the prize! Freedom – and allow nothing to distract me from reaching that ultimate goal.

At 1:30 P.M. the shakedown team hit my section. I was made to strip naked and hand over my boxers and shower shoes for inspection then put them on. After I was handcuffed, they opened my cell door and I stepped out and the supervisor in charge of these devils used a handheld metal detector running it over the front and back of my body, including the bottoms of my feet. Only then was I walked out of the section with the other guys on 2-row, where my cell is at. I was put in a shower in the next section and was left there for 45 minutes while they shook our cells down.

The guards them came back, took me out the shower and escorted me back to my cell.

When I got there, I saw all my stuff in a pile in the middle of the floor. As they removed the cuffs from my wrists I stared at the pile of my belongings and continued to take deep breaths and told myself again, “The good thing it’s over!”

I had survived another shakedown and was very grateful for that. We must always be grateful for the blessings in life – and I was!

Charles D. Flores N° 999299

Texas Death Row

April 20, 2018

 

Who are you?

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                            April 6, 2018

WHO ARE YOU?

« I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge

That myth is more potent than history

That dreams are more powerful than facts

That hope always triumphs over experience

That laughter is the only cure for grief

And I believe that love is stronger than death”

The storyteller’s Creed by Robert Fulghum

 

Have you ever given much thought to who you are? To what kind of person you are day in day out? What kind of experiences have you lived through that created your personality? What was your childhood like? What was school life like for you when you were young? Were you popular? What kind of extra-curricular or after-school activities were you a part of? Did you enjoy them? What was home life like as you grew more mature and became an adult? What kind of relationships did you have? What kind of work have you done in life? What types of events have you gone through that have emotionally influenced your character? Who are you and what makes you you?

As I ask myself these questions today, I realize that when I was a teenager and young adult I was incapable of asking, much less answering them then. After 48 years of life I know that what we live through shapes who we are, as we are the sum of our experiences, and I find that fact very thought provoking.

I have always been a creative person. I think back to my elementary school days and how I loved to read and listen to stories being told. I remember one of my favourite things to do as a child in school was to visit the public library. We were allowed to browse the shelves of the children’s section and pick out two books to check out and take home. I loved doing that. The librarian would then have our class sit around her as she would read to us a story. As a young child, 8-9-10 years old, those experiences were life-altering for me. A world that I did not know existed was opened through books, through a story I could imagine inside my head. This was magical for me as I learned that imagination was stronger than knowledge at that young age. I also learned that myth was more potent than history through the stories I listened to and read about through the way they would take me to other times, other worlds and other realities.

I think of this today, how many men on Texas death row use imagination and myth to cope with this soul-crushing solitary confinement they are forced to endure? In this instance, imagination is stronger than the “knowledge”’ that the individual in question has been sentenced to death by lethal injection. The fictional stories – myths he reads or listens to on the radio – are more potent than the history that has resulted in them being condemned to death.

I have expressed to a few close friends here that when I was young, the main reason that I fell in with the wrong crowd and began using drugs and alcohol as a young teen was because I never had a dream. I never had a goal – something that was more important than anything else in my life and that I would refuse to allow myself to be distracted from reaching.

I cannot say for sure why I didn’t have a dream to work towards, I just didn’t and as a result I was like a ship tossed about on an ocean, this way and that, with no true direction. This lack of discipline and direction would proceed to cost me dearly because this was the beginning of the road that would lead me to being sent to Texas death row.

But an amazing thing happened when I got to death row. Life sat me down and got my complete attention and began to teach me the lessons I was destined to learn, which resulted in true change taking root. I went from a “bad dude” who did a few good deeds, to a “good guy” who does a few bad deeds. And in the process realized that my goal – my dream in life was to become the man my parents raised me to be.  A strong, kind human being, one who works for the good and does the right thing because it is the proper thing to do. When I realized what my dream was and how it was intertwined to my fight for freedom, I knew without a doubt that dreams are more powerful than facts.

With dreams comes hope, for they go hand and hand together. I remember when I first arrived on Texas death row a victim of an injustice. I knew the score – my involvement with drugs, association with shady characters and the fact that I ran from the authorities because I was afraid made it easy for the prosecutors to obtain a conviction and death sentence at trial.

This delinquent behaviour allowed the prosecutors to intentionally mislead the judge and jury with the lies of numerous individuals alleging they saw me with the confessed murderer in this crime. While never mentioning how these “individuals” themselves also faced criminal charges and with these lies (false testimony) ,they were saving their own tails. And how after providing the prosecution with false testimony that was needed, they were allowed to go home, scott-free.

This fact was never mentioned by anyone during my trial.

I knew I’d been wronged but was at a loss to explain how this injustice was committed. Even so, I held onto the hope that somehow, someway I would find the manner and means to prove how I was wrongfully prosecuted and convicted.

The evidentiary hearing held at the end of 2017 in my case was the beginning of this hope becoming reality. In this hearing my hope that the causal violation of policy and procedure by the authorities in my case would be exposed started to become a reality. And the only reason every instance of misconduct, false evidence and false testimony was not exposed was because our ability to present such factual evidence was limited by the court.

In this manner, my hope began its triumph over the experience of wrongful prosecution.

The fact of the matter is that Texas death row is not a nice place. There are few outstanding things to feel good about or happy for in this new age death camp. This is why it’s a daily battle to stay positive here and keep a balanced outlook on life.

One of the things that helps me the most here is laughter. When I focus on having the best time I can have with my friends on death row we alter our reality. We go from the dark grey reality that most of us will never be free again to a happy sunny world of laughter and humour. Maybe we’re remembering something funny or crazy a fellow prisoner said or did. Or maybe we are laughing at something insane the guards are being forced to do by their supervisors. Laughing and singing through the stormy experience that is life on Texas death row breaks the hold grief has upon us. The bonds these devils have on us are no match for laughter and positive energy we share amongst each other. I experience this each and every day.

In my 20 years on death row, I have seen some of my best friends pushed out of existence by this death machine we’re caught up in. Men I loved like brothers, strong human beings who in another life, another reality would do many great things if they’d not been sent to death row and had their lives taken from them in the name of [in]justice. The only thing that is stronger than their death is the love they shared with others. The love of family, friends, and the love you have for another who you’ve shared your life with while living under a death sentence. Even after they’ve been gone for years and years the love they shared with others remains. And in this manner love is always stronger than death.

These are some of the reasons why I agree with and try to live by the Storyteller’s Creed, written by Robert Fulghum. Why I am compelled to tell the story that is my life and do the best that I can with the ability that  I’ve been given. Because nothing less would ever be acceptable.

LOVE PEACE HOPE AND LAUGHTER!

Charles D. Flores No. 999299

April, 6, 2018

Texas death row

If you could read my mind

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                          March 24, 2018.

“IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND…”

If you could read my mind right now, what would you see? Would you be surprised? Amazed? Disappointed or maybe find a new perspective on your life and all the blessings in it?

This morning I woke to a dark, quiet and cool cell. At 6am a flurry of activity began which lasted for about 2 hours as the guards escorted guys to and from the shower. About half the pod refused to get up out of bed for shower as there’s no recreation today, and chose to sleep in instead. I’m up early because peace and quiet is bliss to me. I feel like I’d walk a thousand miles to reach it, and that silence is one of the most precious things that I have.

My mind roams far and wide as I do the daily tasks in my little world. It’s springtime, which means there’s an overload of pollen that makes its way into the building and in my cell. Each morning, I clean my floor and wipe down my walls to clean up the dust that’s settled over every surface. The radio is playing in the background and I listen to National Public Radio and hear the creator of Instagram say, “We all get lucky in a big way at least once in life, the key is what you do with it after it happens”.

That resonates within me and causes me to ask myself, “What have I done with my good fortune that’s come my way in life?” Have I made the most of my blessings? Am I doing everything I can to take complete advantage of the fortune-blessings-opportunities that flow my way?

The reality of being locked in a 60 square foot cell and the sound coming from the radio fades away as I examine these questions to see if I believe I measure up to what I would consider success. Because it’s simple for me – it all boils down to success means reaching freedom; and failure equals execution and death. I do not think there is a higher stake to play for the game called life and I’ve been wagering what matters most to me for 20 years now.

Soon enough the daylight begins to flow into my cell and I step onto my metal bunk and stand on the large stack of hardback books and look out the 4 inch x 36 inch window in the back wall of my cell. To my surprise, it’s very cloudy and overcast and the skies hold the threat of rain in them. The radio is playing music now and I listen to an old program airing the top 40 songs from March 21, 1971. I love old music and am feeling the groove as the program plays while I look out the window, watching the world go by. It’s about 10am now and I can see the front parking lot of the prison where both guards and visitors enter this 2000+ man maximum security state prison. The large fields of grass are freshly cut and the bushes that line the concrete sidewalk that leads up to the main prison building inside the prison fence are neatly trimmed by prison work crews. I watched them do that yesterday.

This looking out the window is a new thing I’m doing. In decades I rarely looked out the window because I’d always see great weather, sunny skies, free birds flying around and it made me want to be outside flying free as well. So I never looked out the window.

This past Monday I saw a good friend named Anthony in the visitation room and he asked me what pod I was on. I told him the pod and cell, to which he responded “You can see everything from there!” I laughed and responded, “Yeah, and I don’t look at anything”. Meaning I never look out the window. I thought about that exchange for 2 days and decided I was wasting a blessing. There are only 2 sections on Texas death row that have this “view”. That’s 28 cells, 14 on the ground floor (1-row) and 14 on the second floor (2-row); and I’m on 2-row or about 20 feet in the air when I look out my cell window. It does not get any better than that.

So, I’ve gotten this stack of large books out and they stay on my bunk as a reminder that I need to get up and look out the window and see what’s going on! It’s working, I have been taking time to watch the world go by from my window.

I think the fact that I WILL soon be free helps me with my issue on why I never did this before. I have to find these different strategies in which to motivate myself to do these things. Is that crazy? Has 20 years of solitary confinement driven me past the point of no return? Or like I sometimes say to my friends, “Has Texas death row wigged me out?!”

Today Texas death row will receive visitation beginning at 5:30 pm. I’ll watch out my window to see the people come in. I’m not expecting a visit – I’ve gotten my regular visit for this week. Even so, I’ll witness the event.

I can understand the allure that draws those who spend hours at a time at the window. Paired with music, a soundtrack is created to your day and music has a way of taking you away as the songs that play will take you home, they’ll take you to a specific place and time in your life when you were happy and free and maybe even in love! Even make you feel the pain of losing a lover or a friend all over again, I understand this only too well.

I think of the conversation I had with PG yesterday while in the dayroom. He’s a sharp brother and we always have very good, positive, meaningful conversations and I come away from them having learned something. He told me it never fails, no matter what race the children may be, whenever they come out of the building, and hit the sidewalk they take off running! It’s a straight shot, maybe a city block long so it’s a considerable distance. So I watch for that as I want to see the kids run and be happy and free. It’s said that running is the physical form of freedom and I agree. I think the kids know this intuitively and when they leave the oppressive environment of a prison visitation room, they feel the need to shake those chains loose that have temporarily bound them and fly free again. I can totally dig that!

As I watch for the kids to come out of the main building, I reflect to when I was 10 years old and would travel with my parents to visit my brother who was in prison. When it first began, we lived in West Texas and would have to travel over 10 hours by car to visit. As I think of it now, I really didn’t know my oldest brother because he was sent to prison and now I understand that time we lost we’ll never get back.

Is it like that for these children who come to visit their loved ones? Do they enjoy it? I remember I enjoyed visiting my brother and did not want to leave him in that prison when it was time to leave – I wanted to bring him back home with us. Do these kids struggle with the same kind of feelings? I know from the moment my brother was incarcerated, in my 10 year-old mind, the guards, police, FBI – any kind of cop became the enemy. They held my blood relation and whether his incarceration was just or not, they were to be despised.

How much of this contributed to my delinquent behaviour as a minor and later as a young adult? How is it accepted to lock up men and women and throw away the key when we know it affects the whole family? Because when you have a family member in prison or on Texas death row, the entire family is doing time.

Soon enough I step away from the window. It’s true, I saw two young children come out the building and take off running at full speed down the sidewalk. I smiled and laughed when I saw it. I said to them – run young brother, run and be free!

I now consider what I need to do this week-end. My goal is the same – I need to write a blog post a week and send out several pages of daily journal and letters to answer.

I’ve been wondering about what I would write about and the answer came to me in a song, “If you could read my mind”, by Gordon Lightfoot. His record was #13 in the countdown in March of 1971 and when I heard this title I knew I had my answer. The song expresses love loss and is very beautiful – I like it a lot!

Like the song says… If you could read my mind!

Charles D. Flores #999299

Texas Death Row

March 24, 2018

 

My religion

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS – MARCH 16, 2018.

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness” – Dalai Lama

Everyone knows that life has its highs and lows, its mountains and valleys. Whether you’re in solitary confinement on Texas death row or living in New York City, we’ve all experienced this. Whether you have millions in a Swiss bank account or are an indigent prisoner, we’ve all been through ups and downs.

When I think about my life, there have been plenty of highs and lows, especially when you consider that I’m on Texas death row for a crime I did not commit. And during these 20 years of incarceration, life has taught me many lessons which have helped me endure and make the most of my life. So much of my quality of life depends on my perspective on it. I am by choice a positive, optimistic, joyful person who works at being at peace within myself. It’s not always easy though, when the guards leave me locked in a 5ft.x10ft. shower for an hour, I’m not happy and it’s difficult to be at peace then. But for the most part, I am a positive joyful person and one of the keys to maintaining this outlook on life is through being kind to others.

As you might expect, there are many people here who are the opposite of what I strive to be. Being locked in a cell the size of your bathroom will do that to you, especially if you can’t find it within you to do better. When you are a prisoner on Texas death row with no friends or family to support you it’s easy to be negative. When you allow the side effects of solitary confinement to cause you to withdraw and never leave your cell; that can make you cynical and pessimistic, always seeing the worst in every situation. And the evil thing about this is that the devils who created the administrative-segregation confinement that’s used in Texas know it will do this to those who are caged for years, even decades in this manner. But in their minds, a prisoner with a broken spirit is easier to manage and control.

I know what solitary confinement does to a prisoner and even then it’s a struggle to not let its effects get the best of me. But many men here don’t know and thus they have no idea what is happening to them. Whether it’s a prisoner who’s been here for 25 years or just arrived on Texas death row, if you don’t know, you don’t know.

Since being back on Polunksy from Dallas county, I’ve been extra mindful of the fact that many men struggle with keeping their head up day in day out here. And believe me I know why – this place is awful! And because I’m aware of this, it is my task to make the most of the situation and if possible help those around me. If I am able to put myself to work for the good and help those who are in pain and suffering while I’m dealing with my own long suffering then I have done a great good. And the wonderful thing about helping another when you are also in need of help is both of you come away from the exchange feeling better and just a little bit healed.

The other day I went to the dayroom on the other side of the pod. I try to get out of my cell at least 4 times a week because my mind and body need it. I always have a good time when I leave my cell, making it a point to smile and laugh and have as much of a good time as I can. Doing this makes me feel better as laughter and smiling has healing within it. I’ve never smiled and laughed and had a good time with the guys here and not felt good afterward.

So I was in the middle of doing this when I happen to look over towards the other dayroom and to my surprise I see a friend named Robert. My first reaction was, “Hey! What are you doing over there?”! I said this because he rarely comes out of his cell. He’s not a bad guy, he just doesn’t come out of his cell much and is withdrawn. So it was good to see him out and I immediately began talking to him. We began with the usual topics here, what have we been up to, how is life going etc. And before you know it I was smiling and laughing with Robert. And it was great to see him smile and laugh and enjoy himself and for those few moments, the doom and gloom of this terrible place called Texas death row faded away and it was just two friends sharing positive healing energy. At one point I told him this, that it was wonderful to get out of the cell and talk with friends and smile and laugh and enjoy life. He agreed and that made me feel very good. Before I knew it, rec’ was over and I said farewell to Roberto.

This morning I saw my friend coming out his cell on his way to the shower and when he saw me his face lit up and he smiled and said to me, “Hey! How you doing?!”. Robert still had a piece of that positive energy we shared a few days ago and that was so good to see. That’s the power of kindness at work and only underscores how important it is for us to be as kind as possible to each other here.

There’s a newish guy in my section called Bill. He’s been here since November but I did not meet him until mid-January when I come back to Polunsky unit. So I’ve not had a chance to share how to “do time” with him, basic prison etiquette – things you ought and ought not to do to help you fit in and make your life as easy as possible. For some people, I think that is natural but for others it’s not and someone has to tell them.

I’ve seen how Bill conducts himself and knew that I needed to talk to him and share what I’ve learned from doing time on Texas death row. This place is often cold and unsympathetic and little things will cause what others think about you in general to be negative. If you choose not to come out of your cell for recreation, guys around here will forget about you. If you do not go to shower guys will get the impression that you are an unclean person and have nothing to do with you. If your clothes are dingy and dirty, guys will not like you because you are a filthy person.

Bill has unfortunately gotten off on the wrong foot because of these things. But it’s something he can correct if he chooses to and Bill’s been on my mind because of this.

Thursdays are my housing section’s outdoor rec’ days and I was in my cell listening to the USA’s Universities Championship Basketball Tournament when I heard the guards a few cells away from me take someone out for rec. When I looked I saw it was Bill. When I realized he’d gone to rec I had to think about it for a few seconds – I knew it was the last person to go out for rec and I’d planned on staying in to listen to the games, but here was my opportunity to get outside with Bill. So when the guards come back for me to go to rec I was ready and out I went.

It was a warm Texas afternoon and the day was beautiful. After the guards had removed the handcuffs from my wrists and left us out on the outdoor rec yard alone I began the conversation with Bill. I asked him how was he doing and did he need anything? He replied that he was doing fine and had what he needed. He has family in the free world and they are by his side supporting him. After a few minutes I looked at my new friend and said to him with a smile, “I came out here to see if you were crazy or not! And you’re not crazy!” Ha! As soon as I said that we both laughed and smiled and from then on we spent over 3 hours together laughing and having a good time. This allowed me to tell him some basic things. Like how people will forget about him if he never comes out of his cell for recreation. That when he gets to thinking, “I don’t need to leave my cell – everything I need is in here, why go to the dayroom?”, he needs to go out more than ever! That was the solitary confinement messing with his head and he needed to come out. I suggested he come out 2-3 times a week and get to know people. I also suggested that he go to shower every other day at minimum because people will think he was unclean, “funky” if he doesn’t. The same thing about washing his clothes, I explained to him how to clean his cell at least every other day and when he did this to wash his clothes with hot water and detergent bought from the commissary. He goes to commissary and has washing detergent. He took in everything I shared with him and understood I was talking to him about these things to help him fit in here. I made that understood from the beginning. Soon enough rec was over and we went back to our cells, I felt good about my conversation with my new friend Bill and felt like he listened to me and agreed it was better to fit in and be part of our world – Texas death row society.

So I smiled that evening – when time to shower came, I saw him come out for his turn. I will continue to help Bill try to fit in and do what I can whenever he needs a friend. I’ll make sure I am as kind to him as possible and to everyone else I meet. We can’t go wrong with kindness!

Charles D. Flores N°999299

Texas Death Row

March 16, 2018.

 

Singing through the storm

Texas Death Row News – March 10, 2018.

“Singing through the storm has helped us sustain our sense of self, our sense of family, and our sense of community” – Dr Cornel West

In 1998, I began this experience that has seen me arrested, convicted and sentenced to death for a crime that I am innocent of. As I cast my mind back to the beginning of this nightmare, I try to make sense of what has happened to me and how I have been able to survive such a traumatic experience. This takes me back to my childhood, my family, and I now know that I was blessed to have a mother and father who did the best they could with me – a child who was full of energy, curiosity and desire to always be active and on the go. My family was not perfect to say the least, but they loved each other and did the best they could to express this love in actions and words.

My father was a great provider, a man who was always working operating his small construction business and I fondly recall the times when I’d spend time with my Dad riding along with him in his pick-up truck as he did things like check on the workers at the job site, met with home owners, or went to the lumber yard to buy materials. During these times, my father shared many things with me, including his love for music and little did I know that school was in session as he was teaching me to be a man.

I smile and think of my father all the time because I use the skills he taught me on a daily basis as I work to win my freedom and most importantly I carry a sense of hope and belief that a better tomorrow is on its way that Dad instilled in me. He taught me to dream and not be afraid of hard work, to set goals and work towards reaching them while believing that God is always with you and will see you through.

In this manner, my father gave me the tools to endure this situation and he taught me to have faith in myself, in God and to believe that if I put forth my best effort God would do the rest.

My mother was a huge influence on me as well, she was always there when I needed her and she showed me she loved me her youngest child with plenty of hugs and kisses too. Mom worked with my dad in the office as part-time secretary, errand runner, and a full-time mom all rolled into one. I know now all things considered I was blessed to come from this kind of family that instilled morals and values in me that I live my life by today.

I often share with those I’m close to that I work at being a good person today because it’s the right thing to do. Not because Texas death row has broken me and “I’m going to mind” and follow the rules and regulations. No. I’m still in many ways the same stubborn person I was when I first began this journey but I now realize that right conduct is the only way to live my life if I expect to have a good quality of life. And I also want my family and friends to be proud of who I am and what I’ve become.

This is the foundation that I have within me – I come from a background where both my mother and father were honest, good, hard-working people. They were optimists and believers in the Christian faith and did the best they could to sow these beliefs in me and my siblings and in short taught me how to sing through the storm knowing that things will get greater later.

In many ways, the two decades that I’ve been confined on Texas death row does not feel like 20 years. The day to day routine here makes the weeks, months, even years blur together. And in some ways, that’s not a bad thing. What I mean by that is if every day that I have served in this new age death camp was etched upon my mind, heart and soul, I would have given up a long time ago, leaving a few sad sad songs and a hump in the ground. To be clear, this place is awful – Texas death row is a neo concentration camp where my friends are murdered in the name of [in]justice all the time. As the weeks, months and years pass and I’m locked in a cage for a crime I did not do, I have lost my father who passed away in 2016, and my beloved mother will be 80 years old on March 19th. I believe if I could not find ways of putting myself to work for my freedom, for working for the good and being obsessed with proving my innocence instead of being focused on the fact that each day that passes only brings me closer to my legal murder, I would have given up long ago and just laid down and died.

If I had not had the foundation that was implanted within me by my parents, which has allowed me to sustain my sense of self, I would have been lost long ago. For this I’m forever grateful.

I find it amazing how so much of what I needed to do to maintain my sanity these past 20 years has come to me instinctively. It was natural for me to live my life to the fullest each and every day. Natural for me to give my best effort in all that I do. Natural to be impeccable with my word and it was only when I began to read self-help and spiritual themed texts that I realized these keys to success that the masters had given us were things that I was already doing.

And it is amazing to me to think that one of the most important, critical lessons I had to learn and live life by was taught to me by my parents. The lesson – truth that there is a Higher Power in the Universe and the belief and faith in this Higher Power.

When I’ve found myself in situations where nothing could help me but God, I was comforted by this faith and belief that things would get greater later. I didn’t know how or when, but I believed and stood on my faith and I’m still standing as a result.

So 20 years later I find myself in an amazing situation, at a crossroads in my life. We have had the miracle of winning a stay of execution which also gave us the evidentiary hearing. We have since seen the hearing come to pass and it’s incredible how well it went for us and how confident we are that we’ll have a favorable ruling in the appeal courts that will see me free very soon. Now more than ever I believe with everything that I am that we’ll see the second part of the miracle, that is me winning my freedom manifest into reality.

And it’s not a coincidence that by knowing how to sing and dance through the storm, living in gratitude and in absolute faith and belief in God has brought me to this point in my journey. For the storm clouds are beginning to part and behind them I see the sun and with it the reminder that a new beginning comes my way – the beginning of Part II of my life where I’m free and far, far away from Texas death row!

March 10, 2018.

Charles D. Flores No. 999299

Polunsky Unit Texas Death Row