In this new poem, my prison pen pal “Conway” speaks for all incarcerated men and women who don’t get to see their children and grandchildren growing up. Mary Oliver’s famous lines “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”, often read as a call to personal growth, take on new political meaning for families like Conway’s. He has only one life, one chance to experience a daughter’s wedding, a grandchild’s birth. These children, too, will never get a second chance to grow up without the wounds of father loss. Do we, as a society, recognize that their lives are “wild and precious”, too, or do we throw them away with misguided tough-on-crime policies?
Empty words, fanned out across the light
in their plight for communication
on the valley of my tongue.
You listened with a stern expression, drifting
without knowing exactly why your thoughts
like a kite, in the warm summer breeze.
A simple nod or bite of your knuckle
assured me, that we
were touching each other sufficiently
through the transparent partition.
Maybe, this is how our world was supposed to be
just maybe, that’s all we will ever know again.
I raise my hand-up slowly
like a child in class
eager to please the teacher
yet, unsure of an answer;
Place my aging palm onto the glass
then a smaller palm appeared
matched against mine.
Time was a singular straight line
that separated us, our hunger
unraveling like a plate of spaghetti.
Time was a calm sea
that floated over me,
that I drank thankfully
whenever you came to visit,
though the thought of waiting, another day
through this constant repetition
remains more terrifying than the emptiness.
My mind rewinds you walking away
replete again-n-again incomplete
when all that I’m allowed to do
is watch you leave.
For as long as we’ve been kept apart
is as long as I still have to stay…
In his latest letter, Conway also shared some thoughts about the meaning of his poems “Leap Frog” and “Proof of Perfection”, which I posted here last month:
Actually I feel that “Organized Religion” or at least the Hierarchy involved in running such an Oxymoron are very much to blame for the direction our Society is heading, or shall I say the Stance that our Society has adopted concerning “criteria for participation”.
Because of some over-zealot Scripture definitions of How to be “Correct” disciples of God, or the Religious Dogma being organized…
…[The poem] “Proof of Perfection” came first and then upon further reflection, I wrote “Leap Frog” to help continue the piece.
You hit the nail on the head as usual: Justice or Vengeance and which is really morally correct. Who has the Right to make that decision
Like when the Crucifixion was decided
After the warrant was written.
The Cross was burnished, as it is still being examined (carried around in effigy).
The Thorns (nettle) is wrapped around his head to Symbolize Constant pain or incite Thoughts of the Judgment, it is an outrageous reminder that we all have a brain and must use it.
The Bloody spear smeared on the doormat was sealing our fate because not a Soul Stood up to fight this travesty.
They were only “Whispered questions“.
Afraid to question “Authority/Dogma”.
Who will fight to change it, if nobody Speaks up or Takes the same punishment. “Ths twisted blow/We’ll never know.”
Then the “Pagan eclipse” labeled a heretic if you don’t agree fully to the sentence, the punishment. You become a the nonbeliever Pagan — the dark side locked out of the Church. So you “fall through the floor” — straight to Hell.
But, the Hollow reed is there, after its death. The reed is turned into a flute and so, its death has been turned into music which harvested the Sorrow. It remains alive. Metamorphosed into something glorious, except only from our living breathing life has placed holes in its carcass. Our lungs “Broken breath” bring it back to life. It “sings a satisfactory song”.
But this same instrument can be used as a Switch to cause pain — discipline. “Bent willows seeking flesh” verse — more the afterthought of the “Proof of Perfection” that connects to “Leap Frog” because of the explanation (hence the title). So, we can recognize reincarnation or life after death, in nature.
“Imagine, what His hand and throat began” — Is He proud of his Creation? are we not being observed for our humanity, our free will to do great things, this Glorious Struggle.
The fluttering moths are of course metaphor and indicate our attraction to the source of our existence. The Truth, the turmoil, the strength.
“The Search for the crack in the Curtain’s narrow track.” Wizard of Oz reference to the person behind the Curtain. (is it real) is it faith
“The Tears diminish in the theft of a wilting Heart” “Bent willows” punishment — Rejection and pain from going against the grain. Not blindly following Mans/Authority boundaries/Rules.
Finally “to slit the throat of silent Sacrifice” “Toss the herded cross” — No longer Idolized or burnished but Rejected Ideologically. It becomes outright animosity, because if you are to believe the “Norm” the “Self appointed/anointed” Zealots Ideology then you have no other but “Trail to the bitter end”.
But the Truth is in the Hollow Reed still singing and that is the “Leap Frog” to the “Proof of Perfection”. The faith in forgiveness in the search. The Compliment [sic] that you are you and whichever path you are on is proof that God Loves your Choices and Continues to Bless your life with His Song. Your song’s like a beacon.