“Conway”, a prisoner at a supermax facility in central California who’s serving 25-to-life under the state’s three-strikes law for receiving stolen goods, has sent me some new poems that I share below. Writing materials are often scarce for him, so he composed these on the back of an official memo listing the rules for the Administrative Segregation unit (as I understand it, a variety of solitary confinement). Excerpts from that document are in italics below.
Stream of Thought
Take a step back, through the open door
Slide a pace forward on this polished floor
analyze the truth, judgments always do
ineffectually, mendaciously for me and you.
Which shadow that falls, which court has set aside
Censured from my youth, where folly used to ride
springing out of the deepest roots revealed
brought forth by the lies that truth concealed.
Is it candles on an altar, or sacrificial bread
or some speculated monologue of what was said
would thee that I banished a tenacious thought
stagnating in the streams of screams they wrought…
1. Anytime you exit the cell you will be handcuffed and will exit backwards.****
2. There are no warning shots.
3. You will assume the prone position when ordered by staff.
4. Showers are conducted on 3/w and are 5 minutes. You are allowed 1 pair boxer shorts, 1-towel, shower shoes and soap/shampoo. No shirt or socks.
5. Supplies are issued on 3/w every Friday.
6. Visiting is on Saturday and Sunday 1 hour behind glass. 1300-1400 hours. You must be in compliance with departmental grooming standards or the visit may be cancelled.
The Same Thing
These cracked stacked cages of ruin
marching along in line, locked up keeping time
this heart of stone I found was drowned
begrudging every last sound…
Still we fight this rock all night
tossin-n-turnin like pages black & white
I spied outside my window to be
that window looked in on me;
I asked the reflection “what do you see?”
it did not answer me (how could it?)
Those sands of time withstood it
but an echo said the same thing, took away the sting…
12. No magazine, newspaper clipping are to be placed on any cell wall. You are allowed to place 2 pictures on the wall above the head area of your bunk.
13. No covering of the cell lights or door window.
14. Mail issue and pickup will be conducted on 3/w.
15. No cadence will be allowed when on the exercise yard.
Flies buzz around this room forever out of luck
bouncing off the pane of glass not knowing they’re stuck
burn themselves out and expire on this windowsill
I’d like to think I’ll get out, but I know I never will
I’m lower than an insect, bouncing off the melted sand
can see what I want but can’t hold it in my hand
I swear I almost see, the transparent wind blowing
as time slides by, these midnight candles glowing
Check on my reflection something wise to recognize
all I seem to realize I’m like those buzzing flies
wings humming prolonging an avoidable fate
I’d love to let-em out, but, I sweep-em up on a later date…