The Poetry of Prison

I read the poetry of convicts now that I am ex-,

& letters from a pen pal reminding

the inside never leaves me,

has its own beauty, its tragic

sense of the day-to-day.

Reginald Betts builds monuments—

sharply-angled, marbled—

to memories like monsters

that never cease following

through free, smoggy air of the city.

Nazim Hikmet? Think sadness,

isolation. Judith Smith?

There is no true forgiveness in this world.

Then, my friend Savannah—

I’ve never met—expresses

how she’s learning happiness,

as I did, in the horrible strangeness

of that bleak but fascinating place.

Her words don’t come as poems