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    When all of life is stripped away, left with no freedom except in his mind, one man journeys deep inside to discover his true self. He finds the only way to survive hopeless negativity is through creating with his hands and imagination. They confined his body in an iron cage, but could not lock away his mind.

    From December 12, 1971, until August 16, 1985, I had the misfortune of being a “resident” at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas; although not a voluntary visit. Being on the inside looking out and not burdened by the daily normal concerns in outside living, one has much time for soul-searching, reminiscing and realizing basic needs that are unfilled due to denial of freedom.

    I learned much about myself and other beings. In this fourteen year (plus) journey, I put to pen many of my deepest thoughts, soul yearnings, and observations. I wrote songs, painted, did beadwork, pottery, and leather craft, received my G.E.D., as well as doing my prison job assignment. I found time to correspond with over 100 people on the outside.

    Finally, these humble drawings and writings in this little book were done over the years and reflect the sincere feelings going through my mind at the time that they were done. Some in times of severe loneliness, despair, and some in an “off-the-wall” sense of humor I possess, which helped me fight off depression.

    In truth, these were ‘Etched in Stone’ day by day, bit by bit on this pilgrimage of self DISCOVERY.

    Rick Sikes



    Through life’s wilderness I wandered aimlessly seeking my way

    Seldom looking up to see the light of day

    Stumbling blindly, ‘til so weary, I could go no more

    In total exhaustion I fell to the earthen floor

    My eyes focused upon a wounded but lovely thing

    Seemingly an angel felled with a broken wing

    Said I, “Stranger, what will be your name?”

    A voice spoke softly, “Yours, for our names are the same.”

    I replied angrily, “That cannot be.”

    In understanding the voice spoke again, “Look and you shall see.”

    “What song do you sing?” I asked, as I drew nearer

    “Your song my friend, listen and you shall hear.”

    “You know me?” said I, as the sweet melody began to flow.

    “From the very first,” the voice whispered. “ Yes, you I know.”

    “You are fantasy, you are imagination, and you’re not real.”

    Patiently the voice said in a soft tone, “Satisfy your doubt, touch and feel.”

    I shouted, “You are the Death-Angel that has come to take me away.”

    “No, I am faith and compassion left behind yesterday.”

    I replied, “When others are worthy, why did a wretch like me, you select?”

    The gentle voice asked, “Who is the being my eyes reflect?”

    In the kind loving eyes sparkled, an image of me,

    Not the hopeless, cast-out soul, I thought myself to be.

    The spirit smiled and said, “I saw your need and I came.”

    Respectfully, I asked, “How can you help me, when you yourself are lame?”

    “Truth, but my wound does not exceed your own,

    My friend, together we shall mend and then travel on,

    Walking slowly and cautiously, gradually regaining our strength.

    In confidence and with patience, our stride will soon reach full length.

    For in peace, love and understanding you shall stay,

    In your heart, I will dwell, no matter how hard the way.”

    Leaving behind the dark wilderness, where lost I had been,

    To tread upon a sure path, that is lit from within.

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    Discovery by Rick and Jan Sikes - Book Trailer - YouTube