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I miss me, I miss my smile — it’s there but buried in the pain. I’m caged in a place of rage and shame. Just to survive you have to live life like you are on a Broadway stage — no cameras, just lights and action, an actor playing a part of a criminal, yes, subliminal, but critical to see another day on this stage of life and death.

Yeah, I miss me — the happy go lucky me — loving everyone, but my prison stage is filled with obstacles and articles of jail props – mad and sad faces, guards that may or may not be racist. Some days I wonder — is this a comedy or just drama? Rap music is the soundtrack in my head. Hip-opera.

I should get an Oscar for the way I play dead — like Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible,” the spy hiding his true feelings. So many masks to wear, I’m afraid of becoming schizophrenic.

Oh! I remember me — loving, caring and daring to be different. If you were hurt, I would try to fix it. But my protagonist is a hypocritical system that keeps reminding me that I must play the part of the wicked.

Man, I miss me I know you are there, scared of being scared. I miss our arguments that turned into a game show of “Truth or Dare.” To be or not to be? What a lousy question, if not perplexing. I just miss being me.

It’s real life. No special effects. It’s just me striving to be the next hot sensation, so when I’m freed to the streets and free to be me, I will bow to my standing ovation.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Marcus "Wali" Henderson is the former editor-in-chief of San Quentin News, an award-winning newspaper published out of San Quentin State Prison in California, where he is incarcerated. He became a reporter the day he arrived at San Quentin.