Prison poetry I

A collection of poems written by prison inmates.

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  • Feelings by W. P.

    You say you love me and that gives you the right
    To make me face feelings that I always fight.
    You know that these feelings could shape and control me
    When in all other things I stand steadfast and free.
    And what a lovely, devastated life I have known
    With no responsibilities or a place to call home.
    Not even a spot of mist has touched my eyes
    And not a second thought whether I live or die.
    My heart pumped on stubbornly and oh so slow,
    And from my wounds not one drop would flow.
    Now here you come and make me feel worthwhile
    Because to reach me you must have fought through all sorts of vile.
    Now I am face to face with life and death
    And I can’t choose one as I would right or left.
    The me inside of me is afraid to let go;
    He has become accustomed to the pain and loves it ever so.
    So no choices can I make quite yet
    Until such a time me and me is well met.
    And even though we must travel through this strange and foreign land,
    Do not worry because I will be there holding your hand.

    Looking Westward by S. L.

    Looking westward
    From a bridge,
    Golden water
    Parsleyed shores.
    And silent currents
    Tugging ripples
    At men in waders
    Standing
    Still.

    On an Unlighted Bridge by S. L.

    On an unlighted bridge
    Above oily waters’ slick stillness,
    Brushed by comforting coolness
    Under cloud-curtained skies.
    Behind high sullen greyness
    Night’s stars show no brilliance
    And the moon’s sleepy jaundice
    Floats somewhere
    Forgotten

    The Mad River by S. L.

    The mad river roars,
    Ferocious and heavy
    I watch how it crushes
    And tumbles below
    Its rage fills my ears
    With an unholy thunder
    And its might shakes the banks
    Where I sit for the show.

    Sometimes I can watch
    With a heart full of wonder
    And at times full of pity, or love
    Or of fear
    And at times I am swept up
    In the midst of its anger,
    Tossed about like a rag doll
    By the habits of years.

    But I’m learning acceptance
    Of its torrents and rapids.
    I’m learning to open
    And just let it flow
    And befriending the currents
    Brings a gift unexpected,
    Calmer waters and clarity—
    The mad river
    Can slow.

    Untitled by R. S.

    I’ve been thinking
    about all that drinking
    and how I was sinking
    into a state of despair
    and
    now I can see
    what then happened to me
    as the insanity
    ruled me unaware—
    Thoughts filled my head
    about cutting the thread
    that kept me from the dead
    even without drinking wine
    but now
    I understand
    that this life is is good
    and with it I can stand
    and start on the path so
    fine—

    Untitled by R. S.

    Prisons are of two kinds, the outer and the inner;
    In each of them one finds, both the saint and the sinner—

    The outer is made up of steel and bars and razor wire.
    It’s a place without much love, where anger burns like fire;
    From outside they look like stone, with big yards of green grasses,
    But they’re made of flesh and bone, mere graveyards for the masses.
    Within there are concrete cells, where the men are caged like beasts,
    In their hearts bitterness swells, which others feed on like feasts;
    It’s here you long for freedom, wishing for the time of old,
    But it’s here you can gain wisdom, without having to be told—

    The inner is made of mind, out of reach of the senses,
    Around it you will not find, any gates, doors, or fences;
    It is a place no one knows, but is definitely real.
    Here is where your inner foes, are stronger than any steel;
    The mind can go either way, now happy and then irrate,
    The choice is yours every day, but sadly do you choose hate;
    It’s here that you need control, if happiness you wish for,
    Knowledge can do the patrol, guiding you through wisdom’s door—

    If you find yourself in a cage, don’t sit there as on a shelf,
    Go beyond the burning rage, and come to know your inner self.

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