E.J Henstenberg

April, 2012

“51 top, pack it up, you’re on transit chain!”. With those words the illusion of routine and normalcy were shattered, as I was once again reminded of the callus and capricious nature that is “prison”. And so all my worldly goods, not much really, but more than most, are packed and inventoried and bagged and stored in the property room. And I am brought t o a “Transit Cell” on 11 Bldg. to await a day (hopefully soon) where I can catch a bus to my new prison unit. Here on transit I have nothing- no property, no friends, no routine, no movement, no works no library, no legal help – NOTHING! And I miss it. It’s not much… But I miss it, especially my books. I can catch a “chain bus” tomorrow or six weeks from now- there’s no rhyme or reason to this institutional division madness they call “shipping” and “transit”. Some of these cells are occupied by inmates like me… Those waiting to leave the unit for various reasons (medical, life in danger, education, release, etc.).  Others are in transit cells coming to this unit.  But for whatever reason can’t yet be housed (medical, bottom bunk restricted, gang affiliated, etc)

Once they receive “clearance” & have a house available they’ll leave & it seems within minutes another takes their place.  As someone will mine.  A never ending cycle of human “replacements”… numbers… that always seem to be moving but never ending up anywhere!

It binds us all together… gays, straights, thugs, nerds, black, white.  Someone has given me a stamp & envelope… another some paper… a third this pen… there can be no expectation of getting it back – but it’s understood that I’ll help another as opportunity & need present themselves.

It’s frightening, in some ways, “transit”.  They’ve taken everything, we don’t know the “when” or “where” of tomorrow.  But it’s exciting, too, and prison is so “un-exciting” that it’s an exciting adventure this trip into the unknown.  I don’t know how it will turn out.  I’m reminded, daily, of Hammarskjold’s famous quote:  “How long the road is- but how we’ve needed every second of it, in order to learn what the road passes by.”