New Writing by Conway: “City Elegy IV”

Back in August I posted the previous installment of my prison pen pal “Conway’s” series of prose-poems celebrating urban car culture, whose freedom contrasts with the living death of incarceration. He returns with this political lyric that I’m fortunate to share with you. Read it aloud and you’ll hear the cell doors clang.

City Elegy IV

   Do the streetlights still bleed, through the leaves of me? Where my memory remains, in my family tree’s falling shadow.

   A tree grows not here, on the middle of this tier, stone cold center of my universe. In the Heart of America this sanctified cell only records the heartbeat of the meat wrapped in its possession.

   A continuous tape-loop snakes its way through the years — of going nowhere. Except when the transport bus appears, wrapped in freedom’s faffling flag of Hypocrisy.

   Pilgrims transfer daily to more oversourced humidors, stone-n-steel honeycombs of human bondage, buzzing away. As sodium-lamps illuminate this treasure, like a billboard display. Like a halo glowing bright off any highway, wrapped up tight in a crown of barbed wire thorns, or thistled horns.

   Some say that the Lord’s blessing is amongst us. I only see shackles and chains wrapping our pains in the shroud of injustice. Redemption contrived, commercialized for profit.

   Does God Bless the Commerce of Incarcerated America? This Holy shrine of abundance, a multitude of souls of candidates standing on street corners seeking futures, but finding no path. Beware! Don’t get snagged in this trap of the one way bus trip right to here. Here, far away from contact, in the Hall of a million steel doors slammed shut. Locked away tight from another cool September night, no relief in sight.

   Here, where even the strongest arms and minds tire, struggling against this brazen green money machine.

   Here, amidst the husks of what Justice has abandoned.

   Here, where the clamor withers to silence without contact.

   Dulled by neglect, the aftertaste deepens the hunger.

   Harsh sentencing schemes darken the overtones of truth.

   In this tidal wave of injustice that seems to have no end, even at oblivion.

   Again-n-again this massive chain drags another generation down and in. To get slammed down, for being so bold as to remove the unnecessary gold, that decorates the watch dangling from the Liberty master’s pockets…

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