Life… In the Coronapocalypse

In the coming days and weeks, I hope to post more articles and thoughts from former members of the class as they reflect on their lives outside and on those they left behind the walls of San Quentin, especially now during this ongoing COVID catastrophe. This first one comes from Joe Krauter, who paroled in December 2019. -ZM

“The sick have to hunger strike to be heard. Like taking yourself hostage by pointing a gun to your own head to demand fair treatment.”

Life… In The Coronapocalypse

By Joe Krauter

A lot of crap happened to me when I first got out….

My whole parole plan got demolished thanks to a devastatingly unprepared Transitional Housing system; I was forced into a program that had absolutely Zero ability to accommodate me for my mental health needs and requirements, let alone be sympathetic.

If they were sympathetic, I couldn’t tell.

Parole basically told me that I had to ‘suck it up and deal.’

The only person who seemed to give a damn at the first was my clinician issued to me by parole. I’m still grateful for her and still see her to this day.

Lots has happened since then. But I’m choosing to focus on the good that has happened to me in spite of the rough ride that I’ve had since paroling from prison.

I’ve got a good job, helping people during the Coronapocalypse; there are a lot of folks who’ve been displaced [the city’s word for hard working folks becoming homeless because they lost their jobs and therefore couldn’t pay the rent even though there was supposed to be “rent forgiveness”].

I’ve reconnected with old and very loving friends who I thought were gone forever.

And I live in a kickass house with some great people who want nothing but the best for me and try to help me in the best ways possible.

To quote one of my favorite shows, The Simpsons: “Everything’s coming up Milhouse,” meaning that things are looking seriously positive for me for the truly first time in my life. The therapies and tool box I’ve built over the years let me see the good instead of the drowning negative.

I’m even going back to school….

Yes, folks things are looking up. God help me if I lose most of the extra flub I’m carrying around the midsection I’ll think I’m dead and gone to heaven [haha].

I can even learn to cook the favorite foods my family loved to make when I was young. To Honor them, my grandmothers and others who have passed.

As I sit here in this little office at 9:56pm, listening to the sirens of the Tenderloin first responders and the Rattle-Bang-Crash of the number 38 bus zoom by over the steel plates that the city is using to repair the roads. I can’t honestly feel sad right now.

In this, The Coronapocalypse, there is hope and success. Perseverance can overcome this tragedy. The politicians were right in their mouthing of sounds in this regard.

I don’t know if We’re in this together or not…but I see individuals trying and living to overcome this crisis.

I’m inspired by my brothers and sisters in San Quentin doubling down and risking their lives to demand health and safety. The sick have to hunger strike to be heard.

Like taking yourself hostage by pointing a gun to your own head to demand fair treatment.

I owe them these words, folks. I owe them life and living life for them in this Coronapocalypse. I owe them the promises I made to them to live and “never come back.”

For them and for me I will do that.

Coming to you live from the Coronapocalypse, be well and strive folks.

—Joe Krauter

About Brothers In Pen

Brothers in Pen is the collective name of the Wednesday Night Creative Writing Class at San Quentin State Prison facilitated by Zoe Mullery.
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