Issue 11

Poetry

Ron Riekki

I Worked in a Prison for Five Months


On the fifth month, I got attacked by an inmate who had a face
like a sandal.  He kicked me so many times that the guard said he lost

count, but he looked like he couldn’t count very high.  They turn
prisoners into numbers.  They can add years to their sentences.

They take away all their valuables.  They give them shelter,
a Charles Manson shelter, as if there’s no perfume anywhere.

I had to go to the E.R. where the nurse told me I had nothing
to worry about, that I would heal even if the prison refused

to cover any of my bills, saying that I was part-time, saying
that I could be subtracted myself, another minus in a world

filled with sixes and sevens, packed with eights, stuffed
with nines and stabbings and tens and heat like hell.