Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

I know a brother that’s been here since he was 16.
He’s 65 now.

God damn, sometimes I wonder if that’ll be me.

He lost his family and friends. He’s just a number. Prison is his identity.

My number is 850658. I’m having an identity crisis. I just want to be Kory McClary, but the number is taking over. 

I’m surrounded by lifers and political soldiers. And they’re all numbers doing numbers. Political prisoner, is that me? Sometimes I wonder … or am I just an inmate doing time?

The wise mind of Marcus Garvey is a part of me. 
“I feel like I have been denied justice because of prejudice.”

Twenty-four hours a day, this cell is my residence. The books I read exacerbate my greed to be free. I haven’t left this cell in so long, I feel like it’s becoming a part of me.

Just an inmate, is that me?
Number 850658. Where is Kory McClary?

I’m still here, in here somewhere? 
Writing this letter to the inmate they condemned me to be. Toiling to be free…

Don’t give up soldier … patience is a virtue. This is a long fight. Remember you’re fighting for your life.

And, I’m encouraging myself
Am I going crazy?
I’m writing this letter to myself after all. 
The inmate in the back of my head said “go to the psych you need help.”

No, you don’t!

I’m just wondering? I’m venting to myself, Kory McClary. 
I’m trying not to be #850658
I’m trying not to be just another inmate. 
But, this cell is getting the best of me.

When I dream, I’m free. 
When I wake up, walls are all I see. 
And, they’re painted a gloomy grey
And gloomy is how I feel
I’m cold, and my heart is like steel, just like this cell.

Damn — I’m becoming one with this mothafucka!

O’ self, you must rescue me from the number that they attached to me. 
Don’t be what they want me to be. 
Be Kory McClary. Not #850658! 
Never be an inmate!

Keep your trust in the Almighty. Digest knowledge, exercise, and grind ’til you’re free.

O lord, have mercy on me… 
I’m confused. 
I’m wondering who’s who? 
Who’s the true me?

That’s why I’m writing this letter to myself
Reminding myself
Telling myself to never be just #850658.

Signing out,
Kory McClary

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Kory “Hussain” McClary

Kory “Hussain” McClary is a contributing writer from Atlantic City, New Jersey. He especially likes writing short story fiction because it helps him to escape the reality of a cell. He enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, working out, and is a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. He loves his family and can't wait to be home. Kory is serving a 130-year sentence for murder at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, N.J. His writings can also be found at his personal blog korymcclary.com.