Reprinted from years ago when he lived in a dirty old concrete box full of overcrowded rooms [now he lives in a new, clean concrete box with only one roommate!]. One of the first poems he showed me. It was in the first year of my work as the last watercooler in hell. We spent months just talking and sharing poetry every week.
This one broke my heart.
written 2/21/09 6:25 p.m.
We watched a butterfly be born into the world
Held hands at a scary film
Thought silly jokes were funny
Smiled with our eyes
I love you was spoken a lot
Mingled with other couples
Broke up once or twice
People talked about our relationship
She wrote when I was gone in jail
This is where we failed
My time was longer than her love
Have a picture of her I can’t tear up
It looks like she is shaking her finger at me in the picture
Wish I wouldn’t have made my mistake
Stakes were too high for me
Alone again with 40 men
This next is mine, this morning.
Arrive by jail van
drive through a garage door that closes behind you
the world has turned upside down
everyone has latex gloves
“Take off your clothes and get in the shower to the right”
frightened, you look for a human face
you may not see those clothes again
people are watching you through a mirrored window
instructions come from the wall mounted speaker
high above reach
“If you can’t clean yourself properly we will send someone to help you”
you don’t want to be touched by those rubber hands
you do your best to obey but it is hard-
nothing makes sense, you suppress an urge to scream out loud
they are making sure you don’t have anything
anything at all
you are truly stripped by the time they let you into the next room
“Put on these clothes. We will help you if you can’t do it by yourself”
again you comply
“What is happening to me?
What happened to your face?”
“We will help you to get better”
time, ushered along, nothing is right
[correct, true, accurate, factual, fit, satisfactory]
go to your room
. . . .
Doctor: “My job is to diagnose your illness,
and take you to court if you refuse them”
“I’m not here to talk to you or listen-
in fact, if you see me coming that’s bad news for you”
and, you think, I still haven’t gotten my self back
(or my clothes and by the way
NPR never sent me the tote bag they promised during the fund drive)
. . . .
oh God, if I’m crazy what does that make