I rarely explain anything I write. When I do it is usually because it’s too cosmic or too personal for those not involved to get drift without a tip. I was spending one night a week in a prison working with 15 inmates in 2008. One of the men was about 60 and would often sit next to me. I wrote this late one night after he told me he expected to get out soon. The following week he had been moved to lower security unit. I brought him a copy of it, but he was gone.
They did not build these walls to hold You
You built them
Which came suddenly like rain
clouds passing over mountaintops
You look up realizing: it is not too late.
You: Down, but not out.
Time, nary a stranger,
beckons You to stagger into Your corner
Gazing into eyes of strangers
who say – no the liars guarantee – they are Your corner men
You ask, “What round am I in?”
One mumbles an impressive something unclear
like fog in the valley below the mountaintops
It may have sounded like he said “the end?”
So there is no choice, now. Is there?
Preference was some luxury such as last night’s Porterhouse,
or the smooth flow of how You fought early on.
Yours, now, is both levity and levitate –
another once-more time (another once-more time)
rising not to tarry with what “they” call sport,
But you know it now as “life.”
Pushed off survival’s stool, toward the outlying stench of brews, whiskeys and sweet fragrances of ringside perfumes.
You cannot hear the masses screaming your name.
Your name! Remember your name?
Catcallers need Your resurrection
even more than You.
For the turnstiles and spectators You thrust it into center ring
Flailing and swinging,
You, own the faith of a nun.
Beads – both Rosary and sweat
under leather, because there is nothing left except faith.
You believe because the lack of belief is that final bell ringing
signaling another ending,
another . . . death.
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
You can afford to ignore the man in stripes
Go mute him, and seek oxygen.
It is not over.
As the masses file out, saliva dripping from their chins
they pretense empathic thoughts they don‘t fully understand.
Yet you know on days when you won or lost
the taste of your bloody mouth was the same in conquest
The flavor of life’s disease.
Instead of smelling the flowers, eat them.
Like timid rabbits and the rising meek.
Because that bloody flavor lingers on the tongue
of tigers, under-dogs, too.
Walls seem higher,
You, tiny, frail, abused by time
You can and You must scale brick and mortar again.
“Eight! Nine! Ten!“
realizing one breath is an illusion
Yet it is not Your last breath
So like a gentle wolf
you blow away bewilderment
and these walls of capture,
Confusion, carnivorous capitulation
all blown away . . .
like grounded leaves in changing seasons,
But what to do with the rest of your days?