Saturday, October 8, 2011

From Cradle to Grave

I'm sitting in the
corner of my cell,
one dim bulb
barely enough light to see
these scrathings on paper.

It's called death row,
they've just turned down my
latest appeal,
my attorney tells me it's
the last.

It could be anytime,
they'll lay me out
strapped down on that insidious gurney
expecting me to resist
as if i don't know that
there is no escape,
as if i don't have a mind of
my own,
as if i can't see the steady, relentless
drumbeat of naked reality,
as if i don't know death,
as if i can't feel his icy presence,
as if i can't recognize death,
my cellmate for all these years.

There never has been any
seventeen years now
in a cage,
gnawing confinement,
relentless and unforgiving boredom,
the endless hours,
the frightening moments.

It's like living
inside out,
viscera exposed,
bones and sinew
raw and beaten,
thoroughly beaten.

That's the way it was
for years,
living with an open wound,

I could have wasted them all,
but i put my mind to use,
it was woefully neglected in the streets
where i was taught,
where we were instructed
in our own self demolition,
where the lessons we learned,
that our lives would come to naught,
that we were not deserving of the effort,
where we were prepared for the grave
and the prison.

I've put my brain to use,
I studied,
I've learned to love knowledge,
to embrace it,
to caress my thoughts,
to nourish them,
even within this insufferable

It is forever cold here
where justice has been thoroughly
where  the only illumination comes from

I am not ready, yet
I am ready.

Don't misunderstand
I don't expect to recover,
to be greeted by angels,
to be be enlisted in the
devil's army,
once the needle is thrust into my
rebelious arm,
once the poison is forced into my
mortal body
whose only goal is survival,
once the light inside my head is
turned off,
I will make that leap
into the abyss of darkness and
return to that place where only
molecules reside.

I didn't kill that storekeeper, but
he had a reputation,
ruthless, brutal and unforgiving,
he hated us for our color
for our swagger,
for our determination to live.

It doesn't matter what i say,
truth is of no consequence
when justice must be served,
for he was white and I am not,
for it is assumed that i am of
little worth,
that was the lesson that
I was expected to learn,
I didn't learn it well.

My guilt or innocence is of
no import,
somebody must be held
they chose me.

I am not bitter,
I gave that up long ago,
far too corrosive.

I have forgiven
all of them although
I can't forget.

This corner of my cell
feels damp and cold,
yet i am comforted by
my thoughts,
I take pleasure in these words
that i scribble with this pen
 i'm not supposed to have
lest i take my own life and
deny justice its opportunity.

I cradle my days,
savor them,
improve my mind,
nurture it,
I have an insatiable hunger for
even though it has not
served me well.

Soon they will come for me
expecting the worst,
they do not understand that
I am a man,
that I am ready.

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