“Stream of Thought” and Other Poems by “Conway”

“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…

6 comments on ““Stream of Thought” and Other Poems by “Conway”

  1. Alegria Imperial says:

    Thanks for promptly sharing Conway’s poems. I really love reading them. Each line, each image rings so true; not only does he transport his reader to his prison, he carries them with oh so dexterous wings to his flights from within without. Where some poets or would-be poets like me contend with at times lame realities, he seems to have cornered without meaning to the weightiest. You had asked in your publication of his first poems to read and see if these ring true; they always do. And by the way, that one-word which apparently summarizes your ‘poetics’ is what I had since held on to in reading and writing.

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