Prison Poet “Conway” Inspired by Blake

Some more excerpts from my correspondence with “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. For Christmas, I sent him some books he’d requested (Kipling, Thoreau, Blake), and he responded in January with this poem that was inspired by Plate 3 from William Blake’s The Book of Thel:

Bring Me Clouds

The clouds were dancing, playing
disappearing games in the sky
as they softly windswept flew
out of the corner of my eye
I had no recollection of their worth
when they quietly faded away
I wonder do they have a voice
if so, what do they say?
A lonesome tuft of pillowy white
against that bright blue field
floated a vale of powder across the sun
and turned into a shield
This shadow calm and quick did pass
in only but a moment’s time
when the sun peeked back his head
across his golden climb
Twas then I recognoticed [sic]
their silent voices dancing in my brain
though they were absent from my ears
sweet tears are singing inside the rain
hovering flittering without care
Till pregnant there, a storm does bring
a shower on the newborn spring
Those clouds make birds-n-flowers sing
so, you see it’s all by choice
all this is part of the clouds voice…


Conway sent me some more poems last month:


This inhumane endeavor
inside the ashes of an expired world
dread realm of desired breath
The indignence of exile sucks
what’s right from our hungry sight
swallowing the souls last gasp
into the abyss drawing night
causing the wickedness in the world
to mix, blend and stir together
creating a forever decomposing maze,
cracked walls, sidewalks and
heavy unscribed tombstones
sucking at the soles every step
resenting every place ever known
bringing glory to the keeper
without rules except action
violent ruthless distraction
ruling without conscience.
I would rather be me
with empty cup
Than the whip lasher dead
from the shoulders up…



   You can see the polished trails, and spots
where human feet, hands have longingly lingered, or
heads have rubbed, tossing-n-turning in exhaustion.
   That rough concrete smoothed and shiny, reflects
those souls lost in this bitter maze.
   Wandering, forever herded like cattle prodded
along in chains, jingling like slave bangles.
   As this wretched machine clinks and clanks, devouring
with steel doors chomping down bite after vicious bite.
   From the inside consummated, slowly
we view our digestion, realizing this concrete and steel
nightmare’s no deal.
   Dead are they, who observe this torment
unmoved from a far away place, with unspoken breath.
   What really is Death, if not dull
like the gray ashes dust, lifted and blown about
nakedly exposed inside a Sun’Ray dancing, for
only a moment away specs performing, reflected
with a stars bright sparkle.
   Those spectacles were once a wall, or being
about this tall, escorted chained, down to that
loathsome execution hall.
   Truly now, they live and play gay in a way,
face the day uninhibited.
   Unlike this steel door, or cold cracked
concrete floor, sucking hard on the lonesome footsteps
of a condemned creation’s last march to ruin…

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