Carl Martin is an American man with a lot of heart. He writes poetry and crafts leather into one-of-a-kind pieces of art. You may have seen a post on Instagram or Facebook of someone posing with their new bracelet that was hand-made just for them by Carl.
Carl is also a prisoner serving his 27th year of a life sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections. We came to meet him through an amazing program in Flint, MI called Prisoner Empowerment Ministries (PEM): a non-profit that visits prisoners in jail when prisoners have no one to turn to, and helps inmates transition into society once they've completed their sentence. Carl is the only prisoner PEM works with who has no out date.
These past few years have been particularly difficult for Carl. His mother died last year, and his brother the year before that. He was not able to attend either funeral, and since he has become a close friend, we have been able to witness first-hand just how difficult it has been for him. But despite everything He continues to make us laugh and give us hope in our own lives, through phone conversations, prayer, and just plain being funny(he's pretty hilarious at times!).
Perhaps you're reading this and thinking, "Well, he must have done something horrible to deserve a life sentence, and he probably deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail..." or maybe you're thinking, "Wow, isn't 27 years of confinement enough of a punishment for one person?" Whatever you conclude for yourselves, the truth is that Carl is a person just like the rest of us; one who needs and deserves love, respect, validation and consideration.
Our slogan at Coco, Bee & Nut is, "Promoting happiness through health and helping out." You'll find it on each and every bag. Carl is one of the growing number of people who are being helped by your purchase of Coco, Bee & Nut: With 1/10 of our net profits going to charity, we have been able to provide funding for Carl to purchase supplies for his daily needs (toiletries, new shoes, etc.) and for his own small leather business(where he is able to employ a few inmates so they can make a few bucks as well.
I mentioned earlier that Carl is an amazing poet. He writes from experience, with engaging description and detail. His words also offer a glimpse of his history. See below for the first of many of his poems that will be on our blog.
Peace and love, always.
by Carl Martin
Climbing out of the ditch, i was cold, wet,
and alone. i thought I'd die and no one would know why.
Proceeding from a place where it
was unknown, every step i took got me closer but distance and dark nights made it hard to see, i had no compass to find home.
Thinking of the people who helped
raise me, only moms, aunts, and uncles, no pops.I remember i saw him die from 4 shots.he took his last breath while looking at me.In shock i waved never knew he was gone till my moms rode down the streets wit da cops.
As the tears rolled down my face I
thought of home again, it kept me focused on life, kept me pushing past fatigue, frustration, and despair. i paid no attention to the voice that said " notify your next of kin"
Determined to stay alive for my
kids, didn't want to go soon like my dad, need to show them fortitude and perseverance, to not quit when it rains so hard that u can't see. i thought of my [dad] again and the voice that said " this is what my dad taught me "
all these years i thought i was robbed
by death, but much more he left me something that money couldn't buy. A will to live, a will to answer the crisis that you're facing. An inheritance given by him, i speak of him to u this day that being a Father is not just physical but Spiritual and soulish, it's force is centrivacal.