Poetry and Penitence

I attended today a panel on poetry reflecting on incarceration.

From inside the wall, convicts write poems to breathe, they write for oxygen. Some are twenty years old and had been sentencing for life or more than twenty years. Some will never get out. Here are the words of Ben, James and others. From outside the wall, I share their struggles and suffering. The followings are their words. I share them in freedom and hope. I feel like a duty to do so.

Regrets from James:

Hopes dwindle, dreams fade

Attitudes flare,

Pain inflicted, no one listens

Just icy stares.

No mercy, no forgiveness

No second chance, 

Walks alone, dials but no one’s home

A prisoner’s stance

If Shoes Can Feel Shame from Ben:

Often when we feel shame, up is the last place we want to look. My shoulders, they slump, tilting my head and my gaze locking on my shoes. I don’t know if a pair of shoes can feel shame, if so mine have bore the brunt of it. I fear one day I will be a hunchback…

Vulnerability from Ben:

My heart is not bitter

In fact it’s broken

But I know what it means to be a man

Gentleness, integrity and love

Quiet strength, a father a husband a friend

These things make me a man

And I am no longer afraid

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