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Word and Image: Charmus Griffin, 29

Electrical worker, songwriter

That’s all I know and all I want to know. I know I’m livin’ fast gettin’ high and dyin’ slow. I look at righteous people and I wish it could be me. To die here in these cold streets will be my destiny.

No matter how much you beat me or how much love you show. My refusal to bear fruit means this big tree won’t grow. I’m tired of seeing death and I’m tired of tellin’ lies. The wickedest thing in this world is the money inside their eyes.

I hear gunshots that make me shake. A larger nightmare — I’m lyin’ dead in my coffin. I’m lyin’ dead awake. The shackels of the streets are the lords of life. The shackles of the streets are what let me live twice.

I’ve got a force in me that’s for real. I think the things that makes a man is gettin’ money and totin’ steel. Of peer pressure blinded. Triple-six minded. I look for the piece but for some reason I can’t find it.

Little brother my heart’s paid a heavy toll. Even if I got baptized I probably couldn’t save my soul. What I really want in life is a wife, two kids, a car, a house — what separates the men from the mice.

What it’d be like to have a family portrait on my mantelpiece. It’s all a dream now when these traditions are just stolen by the beast. And a nice job that pays about ten dollars an hour? I was 14 years old when I got tripped up by the devil and his white powder. You carry a .45 for protection but that don’t protect the middle section.

This is the life I live and I just wanted you to know. I used to sell drugs and now inside my veins they flow. I remember the days when me and grandma had no heat. We had to sleep fully dressed wrapped up in blankets and sheets. Boilin’ pots of water for a bath in the mornin’. Grandma lost three kids, and I still see her mournin’. And I’ve stole from her and you. Oh what a tangled web us addicts weave. There’s nothin’ we won’t do.

I stopped getting’ high the day I wanted to live. I’m a whole person you just don’t know what peace I would give.

I’ve got many lyrics, you know, many different styles. I don’t have that much stage experience. I’m just focusing on getting my message out, tryin’ to obtain a positive image with all I’ve been through. Everybody already knows what the streets are about. It’s the same old story here and there. But each person has their own story that helps them get by and try to live a righteous life everyday.

That’s what it’s all about — stayin’ into the word. I’m just tryin’ to open some eyes to the message being seen out here. — As told to Brandon Walters

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