A Poem by John Grey
Inmate is all you know how to be.
You've lived half your life in prison. A break from routine is a pee in a corner
four feet from your bunk.
Your clop of your shoes on cold concrete can hear you coming from years past and years into the future.
You gradate your life in terms of sentences: shop lifting followed by arm robbery and then manslaughter. You’re fed at the government's pleasure.
An hour in the quadrangle
with faces sourer than your own
is the height of companionship.
Labor is number-plates
and a guard's regret
that you're not in chains
and hammering rock.
Your family visit sometimes.
Their shame can’t get enough of you.
You tell them that, with good behavior,
you could be out in five years.
But you hate good behavior worse than the warden.
The truth is
you've only ever known enclosures.
Like how you live inside
this bad guy image
and you've thrown away the key.