New Poem by Conway: “Oak Leaf”

Oak Leaf

Beyond the certainty
   of a grave
or burdened song
   of a wandering star;
A firefly in flight–
  retains a tight grip,
on the approaching slip of dawn.

Dancing among ancient memories
   hidden in burgundy wine
coolly scissoring through air
   gliding to the tune of time
but seemingly going nowhere.

As an old note is struck
   from some familiar song of woe,
one that has clung to memory
  like an affectionate parasite
that wraps around its host,
   to strangle it in scorn,
stifling the unfulfilled dreams
   of an acorn…


My prison pen pal “Conway”, who’s serving 25-to-life under California’s “three strikes” law for receiving stolen goods, is facing unfair new restrictions on his status. Although his disciplinary record was clean, he was transferred from the prison where he was mentoring at-risk youth, as part of a prisoner trade arranged by officials. In his new location, officials are considering reassigning him to the segregated housing unit until he’s paroled, which could be years from now. In the SHU, he writes in his Nov. 27 letter, he will be limited to “window visits only, caged exercise, cuffs, kickers, no music and one 30 lb. package per year.”

Conway loves books; he’s reading Bleak House right now. He has adult children and grandchildren whose visits keep his spirits up. These lifelines are at risk if he’s permanently reclassified to the SHU. If you’ve been inspired by his poetry and letters on this blog, please email your testimonials to me at and I’ll pass them along.

Knowing that our family had suffered a loss this year, Conway sent me this quote from Dag Hammarskjold in his Christmas card:

A happiness within you–
   but not yours.
Only that can be really yours
   which is another’s,
for only what you have given,
   be it only in the gratitude
   of acceptance, is salvaged
   from the nothing, which
      some day
  will have been your life…

One comment on “New Poem by Conway: “Oak Leaf”

  1. zhenimsja says:

    Hi, mate! I am absolutely acclaim your way of assessment and all of joined.

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