Prison Hacks



30 comes after 29
it's hard to be white and really mad.
that is, bona fide mad.
sick eccentric a-bit-off-the-stride,
yeah, okay
but not
mad as mad should really be.

i've seen the raving assholes
who would never merit a shit in country club johns
wag their butts around the playgrounds of really serious philosophers
who gave their lives
so that these prison stones could
hug others not so blessed.

you don't have to be a mathematical genius
to know that some gook
long before Einstein
figured out place and time warp
while chanting fuck! for the eighty ninth millionth
time as the hack tried to remember
that 30 came after 29
at the Count.

you have to be on the outside
to definitively misunderstand
the inside.

now, that is profound.
that's not whiteman bullshit,
that's the real scoop
dribbled in the dirt by
real mad mad assholes
whose journey is only through the inside.

it's too bad
this enlightenment that says
“you are ever to be deprived, whiteman"
is all that I have to latch
my sickness on,
because it is so tantalizing.
i mean, shit, i too want
to be reborn.
but we forgot that jesus said
you have to be born again of a Third World woman.

so, jack, there’s no way in
from the outside,
get my meaning?

yep, i’ve ac-cepted
—as you know they say,
“will you ac-cept this parole?”—
yeah, just that way
is how i received all of this
on the track one day
as some moses sauntered by
walking like i can’t walk
laid a paper on me
like all those too hip lay fives
winks and gaits away.
the note says,
“You are a winner!”

so i left as i came
a babe in arms
actually, someone’s orphan
but with the realization
that not only could i get out
anytime i wanted
but that i could get back in
with all the privileges
of the creator of the place.

see, in me the serious philosophers
haunt the world.
it’s a comfort to know
at least
that i’ll never be mad.
i hate to misplace

get my meaning, jack?

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A Definition of Freedom
the crimped man on the rock
whose eyes will never tire
peels the wall for a magical crack

he has sat sentinel there
for 25 years and his encore
is applauded beyond life's grasp

long-timers have their privileges
those who wished for death but
were denied and
redfined as a life-sentence

so who'd but excuse him
if he ogles a wall of pendulous weight
and like Joshua seeks
a paralyzed midday sun?

he was someone's child, after all
a kitchy-coo and he looks like Uncle John
which was "Scene One, Print!"
which now is fading on a fish-eye shot
into his final scene

who knows the apocalyptic quest better than he?
on Patmos little John could see no clearer

so when he told me
that one day—the hour he was not sure of as to number—
but one day,
"YES! one day"
the magical crack would fissure
the Greyhound bus driver would swing
the hydraulic switch
the door would hiss, serpentine
and he'd step up, juttingly.

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:a note is on its way:
the rumor lashed through the yard
like a tidal wave uprooting sunbathers
you got parole! you got parole! goddamn it, man,
"you got parole!"

eyeless in a foreign city
where a 1000 addresses bear no friendly names
her heart breaks at mail time
as she weeps waiting for my return

framed in the doorway, "Admission and Orientation" the sunlight
shadows dance in eerie contortions
dread compels me, stumbling into the "Free World"

days wandering, nights sweating, on the loose, the lam
weary legs, arms find safety in a shaded spot
where under a rock I read a crusty message
abandoned by eyes 20 years ago,
"I will wait for you under this rock, forever."

how was she to tell him?
his child born in the midst of the heavings of the menacing crowd, alone
in solitary lock-down
a strong hungry child whose suck marks her yet
How will I tell that he' us?

in this whirl of feelings, trudging, more than weary
she waits for the messenger, with his note
with the name, "Call the child...."

on my way, stopped inconsequentially at an unidentifiable light
window down at half mast
a fluttering speck of urban garbage
lands on the dash; snag it
announcing, "This is the day of your salvation,
love and love again."

Has nothing really changed?

she was seven, me just turned eight
how the shadows on her neck fascinated, all throughout the day!
so unfamiliar with the dryness in my throat
embarrassed by the sweatiness of palms
somehow, fumbled to compose a symphony of feeling
as ancient fathers before had,
so struck I a cosmic tune that fired up our
hearts with a thump resounding down the eons,
"I love you."

:this note is on its way:

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ex nihilo
the shadows of morning in mourning for sleep
address you without words

the sunrise sparks and slithers over forms
things, elements, non-biodegradable plastics
grasping a beachhead, slipping your cheeks,
molding on your face
the embattlements of eyebrow and lip
nose and ear
unformed, being created, from nothing
you speak
and the shadows are comforted

window #1
she was he, a letter ejected
like the rock
that became rocket
because it unleashed its insides.

he is she, a letter added.
like that heart
which became heartless
because they left nothing beating inside.

window #2
up there, by the fourth branch the sunhole
is embraced by gnarly oak

things fly through, zing and lingering swoosh
letting almost too much in, no barriers
yet so few know its there, have the address
"branch number 4, gnarly oak"

from either side the view is outside
only butterflies alight on the inside
transfixed in a memory of translucent emergence

window #3
the dust shimmers sideway on solitary's hole

should I recount the words that skid along the slimy floor?
should I have kept an accountant's notation of the silent echoes?

it is my crazy time, weirdness and huffing and hallooing
I cannot control it, the hole is for flushing
the debris from within oneself

I know that if I stand on head that it would be beneath me
and I could fall, clawing at greasy spit walls
and be deposited on terra celestial but
only my shadow is spliced by the bars
my chains restrain my dreams, keep me clear headed

window #4
I most times, almost can never but edge towards it in the dark

monstrosities & magnificences, like unto kaleidoscopic
one's emotions are leached, on the half hour as
the sun trades light with the moon, and
the messages from beyond jump from somber to excited to awful,
this jeweled window, this stained glass of the divine book
shatters souls, heals minds, wards off the demonic
and on overcast days comforts only the window

window #5
wash, wash, wash dreaded dreadful dirty job

worse than her hairy lip, aging
more irritating than tv static
far worse than the indefatigable dirty kitchen floor
wash, wash, wash dreaded dreadful

every vision is blurred, each wipe paints another smear
only to be clear is to see what a new angle reveals
smudge, unclear, unclean, horrible, impossible!

it is an eyeball into our untouchableness
whereas we seek joy in its transference of outside to inside
accepting it all as almost a wonder of nature, protector
translator, transformer, faithful without fail
when we undrape, vision is always granted

yet, "I don't do windows!” masks but slightly
the allurement, the mystery of the dark hole's pane

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Mother and Lover on Visiting Day
i had never known the power of words
that one man could harbor such mastery
in simple language and robot signs,
"Okay, let's go you guys."

we hid behind each other's nakedness
as our weapons of nightly passion
inspected, checked, "Okay, bend over"
he pronounced like the magician with a wand
and yard hardened sphincters parted
in salutes to the flag of his indifference

four short steps away from you
sequestered in a confessional of flesh
we recanted the errors of our individuality
and awaited his blessing, "Okay, you guys,
get dressed."

as I sit beside you
his words rearrange the intentions of my gazes
his echo haunts my ears
"One embrace when you meet. Another when it's over.
Okay, you guys, let's go."

when he stole my mother's heart from me
with a word that made her curtsey
as if before the Bishop
i knew that his blood would always
be stained upon my fingernails
that memory would never forgive
his "Okay, get your arm off her, guy."

in this room with the children of violence
i went to the coffee machine, often
just to feel the comfort of the coin of the realm
but it only taught me a hatred of freedom

mother left us during the last half hour
and i walked my fingers in musical display
on your knee, pounding out a tune
of yearning from my flesh which no longer bleeds

your departing hugs
stuck to my ribs like lashes from a whip
I struggled to find a kiss
that would say "I'm fine. Don't worry. I love you."
but my message was aborted by the snap
of his jealousy, "Okay, guys, time's up."

back just four short steps away from you
he again took me violently to himself
purged me of the lingeromg desire I had for you,
"Okay, guys, get dressed.
It's over, for now.”

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Rages in the Desert
when he came to me i feigned
a shadow boxing and a clout on his ears
but he stood as simple as a flower
patiently in place alluring the bee

this is not to be, i screamed into my ears
i am not a toy nor a plaything nor a sweet carnation
i am the rock and the home run hitter and a rose with thorns
this cannot be!

what am i to do with these shivers?
am i to take myself to bed and drink hot tea?
what shall i do if he calls
says that he has free tickets to the movies?

there must be some cruel cartographer of the genes
who has violated the universe with his dreams
for this cannot be,
i cannot let it be!
i am a male and so is he
where is the logic to his dreams?

why is his shadow so real
that i wake to chase it from my wall
jump from bed to check the locks and bolts
too nervous to judge this fear a hoax

deep within me lustful rivers run
my thighs celebrate deltas of the moon
my hands give praise to the burning of kisses
yet the thrill that scars me most is of the sun,
not moon's daughter

am i to find that there is more within me
than my father told me when i was his son?
more than the godly chants assured me
would be my duty and my obligation, all done?

i cannot see—i do not want to see!
his chrysanthemum face and firm stalk
i want only to die as i was born
a wailing child in the arms of my mother

these sentenced days press hard upon my heart
too many rivers have broken their banks
giving riot to seeds long buried in the desert

what shall i take to my grave
that i did not bring to light from my mother's heart?

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The Purple Butterfly
(for dk)

the purple butterfly settling upon your face
illumines the yearnings within your soul
coded in a message of strobe lightnings

it was an inauspicious beginning
three men on the hunt in a Minneapolis bar
spitting piss beer and leering at the dancing dames

i sat there taut of body and howling in brain
14 months on the inside yard primed me for that moment
i chewed the air with a sucking breath
as pretzels and chips crumbled under foot

it was a time of savaging fear
i walked with Lazarus and worried about my stench
who would touch a man from the grave
or deign to gaze upon the mangled and mashed instrument
of his wet dreams?

it was not your beauty nor this painted insect on your face
no, it was in the decaying bathroom
where you chased me away, answered
that i would not, could not be yours this night
Oh! how much i ached for the dawn

you brought a basket full of fruits
some fresh, some moldy, some without pits
we picnicked in the attic for a year
charming the ants and making mad rituals
attempting to lure healings from our shaman bones

when you left me for dear ole Columbus
i cursed his ship and wanted to declare
you already sovereign territory
but you sped away on a snorting motorcycle
flying the flag of the jaunty buccaneer

now that you have braked for a brief visit
that attic in my heart sealed ten years ago
once again
opened for Spring cleaning
Ah! i am relishing the memory of odors
the sweet taste of your intense tears

in every bar and around every corner in every hotel
in every city for every day
i had peered in anticipation of that dancing prancing butterfly
but now I know that it flits about
only on the beat which has always been
our hearts

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Wisdom and Ah! Fond Memories
bare lightbulb mornings
before ritual coffee
trash rimming the hole's around
catches the droopy lidded
great unrecognized one
slipping bare threads
of recycled dreams
through his head.

it must be time to turn on the ra-di-o.
Paragraph 24, section t: "One radio. One authorized channel."

four corpses from the dawn's last train
which left without departing
took themselves up the stairs
without an elevator.
banged on his mind's door
bang bang bang.

it’s just too stupid
that they never painted the wall
after all if they knew how be-oo-ti-ful
was the glossy shine
the government put on solitary.
they would never be civil servants.

the issue
not on the radio this morning
was the state of all
human culture
which they argued from bits
of toilet paper
smuggled from the inner
of various local jails
madhouses and pens-not-made-for-bulls.
only the cold coffee
made them stop.
it also started them again.

luckily, two were blind
the bare bulb did not give
away its lightning secrets
and two were deaf
so they did not carry
the prejudices of the radio.
luckily, again, toilet paper
are best read in the dark
by sign language of
not so sanitized fingers.

in the end
there were five corpses
lamenting the shit-ass
condition of the world
as run by free enterprise.
security after all
is having someone
else responsible for
Lock-up and Count

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