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Category Archives: Jails/Prison

[Many scenes of consciousness with eight characters; One narrator, a Table of six Judges, (three Cyclops, three Angels) and one defendant.]

I Will Have The Last Word

(a scene)

Narrator:

In equal seats at the round table, each with a voice on the scale of justice,

Sat three Cyclops in disguise; wearing sunglass monocle and

Red tinted bald head rubber caps.

On the opposite side, three Angels sat with pleated wings of sea-gull feathers,

Waiting to argue for him but feeling queasy and unable.

Table:

All speaking in unison, “You have only a few words before the ultimate gavel

Echoes you, to a sentence of silence.”

“Do you understand? You only have a few words”,

 Repeated one of them, Under their breath

With a voice of compassion.

Defendant:

Everything that was bad or good,

Smiles and cries, and all those moments in-between,

Became reams of litigation suspended in litter.

 

Bound for this uncomfortable meeting,

 I showed up wearing only a t-shirt,

 Unshaven and a few items in a half empty paper bag.

 

I took my seat on a steel-gray folding chair

Without the cushion of a good history;

Braced with the events that allowed this chance, to convene.

  

Then, they began to strip-mine my life, looking and digging

Into the ground of my relatives, mentioning buried outlaws;

 Ancestors still connected to my bones.

 

All my errors descended into a million pieces of recycled confetti.

They dismissed every excuse to free me.

They found nothing of value, stating, they were unable to release me.

 

They discounted everything I had borrowed,

Insisting on their uselessness when I returned them.

I shouted above my ignorance:

 

“Dance, dance, dance you Cyclops, around my mistakes.

Fuel your caldron with distasteful acknowledgement,

Envy the situation that is not present.

And you! Preen your Angel feathers without dissent

With the oil of penance.”

 

(another scene)

Narrator:

Peering across the table, with silver cups in front of everyone

Except in front of him, he noticed in the center of the table,

A scarred brown plastic tray, sat one tin cup.

He grabbed it, banging the empty cup for their same drink

Insisting for a better portion and perhaps

forget this nightmare and let him go.

Let him go home.

Table:

 “What is it now, that everything is drunk?” Spoke one Angel.

“What is it now that you can savor?” Said one Cyclops,

Sipping his cup, on the opposite side of the table.

They all replied, in a confident anthem:

“We are all of the same dust. We are unbound, released from gravity

Without offense. Unlike you, sitting, fidgeting, now bound guilty

Before judgment.”

 

Defendant:

From this agenda, this torture

 I squealed, I rat-ed out and rolled on my ego.

               Confessing to be, in mind, an accomplice without heart.

 

 I pleaded “mercy” to the table exclaiming, “guilty!”

 

I swooned, I almost fainted. I felt the floor roll beneath me

Like silt in a receding tide.

Standing, grasping what became actually visible.

 

I kicked my chair from the table, sent it flying behind me.

I swept my space clean.

 

 Narrator:

               An empty cup pinged to the floor spilling fear where it belonged.

The echo, stretched, crawling unsuccessfully to find the exit door.

Defendant:

Who am I now, as I try to rise above this table,

Trying to escape the infinite loop that leaves the measure of me to others?

Where swearing and praying becomes a side bar for approval or complaint.

They sit across from each other, saying the same things in redundancy;

Syllable after syllable, arriving at the same conclusion, using different words.

 

(another scene)

Narrator:

He quietly sat down across wingless angels and puffy black-eyed Cyclops.

Humbly took his assigned seat at a long aluminum rectangular table,

In the State, prison dining hall.

He placed his scarred brown plastic tray carrying a milk carton

And his scooped up meal.

Today is his first day; his first spoon towards a year and a day.

(One thousand and ninety-seven left).

Saturday night: he eats folded white bread dipped in beans

Savoring the franks. He will probably eat smelt on Fridays.

 

Defendant:

I see the end recoiling back, hiding in this cosmic dust

Of breath and conscience death, .Each moment for me is mine

Within a circle without chairs of decision or indecision,

Where forgiveness, atonement and contentment has to begin.

“I am not afraid.”

 

Narrator:

Those were his last words

 Before the gavel burst into unconsciousness.

 

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Bonsoir Mémé et le Pépé, Bonsoir

 (curtain rises…both are getting into bed)

Mémé: I’m not asking you to cheat

            Only to tweak. (turning over, back to Pépé)

 Pépé: I refuse to participate, in the choices they make,

can’t you see, Just let it be!

(he does the same and turns over. now both are lying back to back)

Mémé: Get off your arse then, and turn off the light!

            There ain’t nothing right… left to be seen this night.

Pépé: I thought it was your turn

To turn out the lights, tonight.

Mémé: You want to fight?

(as a matter of fact)

            I still got a good right.

(giggling)

Pépé: What is it that you want me to do?

            Again. Before I lay down.

(slowly getting up)

Mémé: Go and tell the grandchildren

            To stop this, this… “Messing around!

…La vie ne est plus le pont de d’Avignon.”

Pépé:  

  (re-enters and gets into bed facing mémé)

            Bonsoir Mémé.

Mémé: Bonsoir Pépé.

(Both start humming  ‘Sous le pont de d’Avignon’)

(Curtain closes)

 

On the lighter side, in my “research”, I stumbled on this and if you have the time… [growing up with this song, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this.]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1-hZQNdC4

 

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Residivism

Lightning bursting with quick bright yellow flashes,

Lighting the narrow space between stacked metal beds

and the cement floor.  

Flashing for an instant, exploding on a head flattened pillow

in a room without a door.

 

Boxer, twitching and jerking his head uncontrollably,

face still red avoiding an imaginary opponent.

Inhaling and exhaling in short burst,

dodging and bobbing as he tosses and snorts

on strapped springs creaking beneath his bed.

 

Shadows quickly disappear on a cinder block wall.

 

The morning breaks down into neon lit hallways

with the sound of shufflin’an rushin’ in single file, to a breakfast

of hard-boiled eggs and a light portion of cereal on half empty trays.

Some with heads bent in silence, picking at their food with plastic spoons,

learning to balance their cockeyed day in Styrofoam bowls.

Others brag about yesterdays with a mixture of false pride

and disguised ignorance beneath dark blue woolen hats.

 

All remembering last night’s thunder,

all accepting their sentences as another flash in their lives

to re-configure space, and ways to pass time

in the dreadful cadence of ticking seconds, sixty at a time;

that seems to take no short cuts, before it consumes a whole day.

 

Clipboards carried with names blotted in bold,

checked for attendance, minus how long they have to stay.

How much they owe and how much to pay.

And… how much more without fences of barbed wire

or towers of armed guards when released

with empty pockets with no place to hide;

disgraced in discord, shamed and quarantined

to be labored in paper work and in digital files.

 

They have to go, their class has begun

on metal swivel seats, they simply just turn around.

Groupthink is in session. They must pass a test without a score.

They have to learn not to feel repressed in poverty anymore.

Not to steal when they are hungry or get angry without training or work.

 

Surrendered and in retreat,

They will have learned to wipe their nose on the sins of their sleeves.

 

NOTE:                    “…Nonviolent offenders are still law breakers, and they will break laws until
they learn their lesson. What I am saying is that we need to do a better job teaching
nonviolent offenders the right lessons. That takes more than prison; it takes more
than slap-on-the-wrist-probation. Drug and alcohol addiction must be broken;
discipline and job skills must be learned. When that can be done better, outside of
expensive prison walls, that is what we should do. Results matter, public safety
matters, taxpayer dollars matter, saving lives and restoring families matter.”

Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr.,
State Supreme Court

 

 
 

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Refugee

 

A rainbow un-torn,

Thin flying paper with tails.

String dangling from low branches,

Kite in a treetop.

Who will take it down?

Who will, with careful hands,

Retrieve it to fly again?

 
 

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Notes Found On The Refrigerator April 2014

 Thin toilet tissue:

The reformed Sinner, self-proclaimed by an edict,
in confession only the devil could read out loud.
sometimes they try too hard to clean things up…
they end up putting their fingers through the paper,
cleaning the wrong ass. 🙂

**********

None of us are heroes when you come back home.
Whether from conflict overseas, educational institution and training or just getting off the street.
We do what we are supposed to do.
We become that place that sent us out…though some of us might have felt we were being kicked out 😦 

but, we come back with a better understanding,
for a better home, that changes the world by sending out more “non-heroes”.

****************
All activity deserves respect. Creativity deserves distinction.

***********

With so many complaints and maladies
and nothing you can do about them
you might as well redeem your soul
for a fix in advance.
Of course not,
get off your ass and on your feet 🙂

******
I have been an up-and-coming disappointment for some,
and then there were others.
Perhaps they were just working on their smile. 

******
No one is expected.
I’m not leaving.
Gosh,
the day is mine.
Now I too, must decide
what to do.
walk or ride?

******

 

Taking complicated words to create an understanding that is sophisticated and simple
is not as fun, or as limiting, as taking simple words to a level of sophistication through universal understanding. However, regardless of the words, it is the intent to be understood through the eyes of imagination.
***************
There is always enough peanut butter for another sandwich in that empty jar. Don’t throw it away just yet. 🙂

*********
In all my experimentation with alcohol I have found no useful benefit. Even the euphoria is condescending to the human character. It poisons experience into catastrophic moments that become stillborn forever

 

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Grasmere NH

I

Mother,

both hands gripping the wheel, sitting stiff in the family two-door sedan

clothing and bedding stuffed between crying children

Follows

the gray exhaust smoke trailing behind her husband’s pickup truck.

Remembering

when they first bought that furniture, some, many years ago,

and wonders if they were ever going to use any of those tools

overflowing,

tied down with frayed old rope, ready to break.

They were being escorted past fading stone walls,

past their boundary markers, exiting past granite posts.

Leading,

in a black and white, with blank expression,

young Jake; one of the town’s three policemen.

Following behind

in an old car, pushing through the dust, was the “scary, but doing his job” bank man.

 

II

Entrance posts,

granite markers in silent dignity. Now, barely an entrance,

lean like ghosts in crooked postures

with torn shattered stained brown holes from forged steel hinges,

witnesses of the missing heaven’s gate.

Stone walls

picked, packed, pried under, and wedged in-between;

stones perfectly placed beneath green moss caps

give them the air of Solomon statues, dividing pasture and property.

Top stones

plowed up to the surface of the fields.

Some two inches above ground, others found furrow deep.

Labor

lifted with children, wife, shovel, sticks, oxen,

with great accomplishments, with what they used.

Good stones for walls. Big ones plowed around.

Granite for the barn and homestead foundations;

Accepting their knowledge, ignorance, intelligence, religion,

and their self-abandonment to labor for independence;

home, was where all were born and welcomed.

The barn,

in the distance, not far from the foundation of a house,

a dilapidated structure with its sagging and jagged broken edges,

sunlight brightly sprays through its caved in roof and gaping seams.

Insects, crawling or creeping, come alive

in a puff of dust startled by a break-in breeze.

Swallows fly through the missing doors and the roofs’ inviting holes,

nesting between scraps of baling wire, old nails, and missing farm tools.

Spider webs weaved un-disturbed, still catch what the barn has always gleaned.

Floors gouged, beveled smooth, from the compost pile to traipsing through with livestock

expresses the determination and direction of those who worked with a grateful burden.

Hay, corn, eggs, milk, meat, and grain from sun-up to sundown

except on the Sabbath, traditionally celebrated before Sunday dinner and concluded

in early evening with children’s songs, poetry and bible readings;

all hands clapping on exit, with that day’s goodnight wishes for pleasant dreaming.

 

Dirt tracks

well caked, straddle the high seasons’ drying grass.

Hints of the proud, active, independent, and God-fearing occupants;

those now dead or dying in cultural extinction, or for that matter,

drifting like dandelion seeds over water.

An abandoned New Hampshire barn outlived by time,

passing with its occupants, it too, bows to its final applause;

“Adieu” without any purpose or benefit of use; accepting where it must fall.

 

III

The farmer’s children,

watching with difficulty their kin-ship subservient to city mills,

factories, trolleys and buses without seasonal scented air,

clean well water, fresh picked vegetables, or the big maple tree shade.

Most, living on the brink, some found shelter in cultural circles

some died at their machines. Others, went with suicide in melancholy

using liver rotting drink.

Their history

refusing to be repeated, also became extinct.

Without stone walls, shelter was futile to seek.

 

IV

I remember

going through Grasmere, for a country ride sitting in the back seat,

licking an ice cream cone, going by the county farm and poorhouse.

Watching Uncle Oscar bless himself whispering to Aunt Rachel

that uncle so-and-so, cousin Clive, and even his Aunt Rose

were, or use to be, in those buildings of granite, brick, steel doors,

and bars across the windows. Clicking their tongues and slipping in words

like wicked drunkenness, and bouncing weekly checks to tenant landlords.

No one wanted to talk about “why” or “what for”?

Shhhhhsss! “Don’t drip your ice cream cone. Use your napkin.”

Without smiles,

they both continued in silent understanding:

knowing about the move from the farm to the “home.”

Arms and noses connected to clear dripping hoses

from red cross surplus stores. Plastic contraptions that hang

nestled between bed rails, dangling on hinges of mass-produced chrome-plated manufacturin’.

Hey, it replaces County bars and rubber wheeled up-right washing pails… and

the mandatory head count of the shift changing guards… and

silences the jingle jangling keys of that damn jail.

They have recognized their destination, and their own impermanence.

They

are seeping through their ancestor’s foundations.

They are lying still, there is nothing left for the dying incarcerated,

except to plan their eternal rest.

They will pass through the Grasmere county ground

surrounded by the rocks our families found and carefully placed.

They will soon lie below familiar space between heaven and granite.

Dirt in their proud face, which glory will embrace

in the land, they finally own.

 

I remember going through Grasmere, for a country ride sitting in the back seat,

licking an ice cream cone, going by the county farm and poorhouse.

 V

Granite, chipped and patiently drilled, blasted, sheared,

crushed, crumbled, and paid for in advance, with life, art, and diligence.

Markers of souls, faced and polished, inscribed with history on wings,

six feet above coffins, encompasses all property above and below.

The granite sustains, polished and pitted. The ghosts are escorted

into the same direction towards home. Singing a toiling chorus,

memorized with the lifting of every stone,

which their angels never, ever, let them sing alone.

Amen

 

 

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Requiem for a Paradigm

I am listening to Joan Baez on LP

 reminding me of my “time,” and how I left you behind;

 

my old best friend, well fed body and mind.

 

I told you not to wait for me

when I went to seek  freedom.

 

 

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