New Poetry by Conway: “City Elegy VI”


I’m pleased to share the next installment of my prison pen pal Conway’s “City Elegy” poetry series below.

This weekend, I’ll be attending the Becoming Church conference, a project of the Church of the Saviour in Washington DC, which will focus on Christian activism for prison reform.

My other purpose in attending is to research models for intentional Christian communities, so that I can create a theology working group for trauma survivors. Church of the Saviour is known for bypassing the standard congregation format in favor of intimate small groups based on 12-Step (AA). Group members commit to mutual spiritual accountability and social justice work. Watch this space for my post-game report. Meanwhile, enjoy the poem.

City Elegy VI
by “Conway”

About two years and counting…
 The city left a window open for me
  a muddy puddle of spiraling sights
  that twist and turn a knife named memory.

This wall presses against my core
  it is a cellblock of scornful spent shells
  hungering to be crushed into a new mold.
The brusharound, or flushed down sound–
of this walk. Every step behind
the moment, looking, mapping.
    On a pathway passing tipsters–
playing a pose (straight incognito).

I pretend to crawl away, from war
untried by the tolling sigh, the taste.
The touch torn, as if I am the thorn.
A beggar swelling to be born.

If I could lift the moon…
  emerge from this strangling forest of metal.
  My goal is not these burial stones under foot,
  lain out before my only path.
On narrow steps, gnashing in silence, I wait.
I kneel before a vanishing door.

Here, in these strange woods
my wounds find refuge. But time
cannot lead me to be seen, over the fence.

Here is the entrance, reason for contrivance
as storm clouds bring a newborn saline.
Another downpour of brilliant jewels.

Shimmering topaz eyes blaze everywhere
 tint the brief shadows in amber.
 batting those lashes like a paramour.
  While the streets still rush and hum. (Conspire.)
   Heavy lyrics that spark like a hotwire.

{Do-do-do walk, march into our fire
No-no don’t talk, cops pay their liar
Hang me from that dirty noose of smog
cut me loose from this frustrating fog}

I ride on, day upon day and night in my mind…
Roads descend behind a false mirror, of others–
not there. I dream of my old shovelhead (Rolling again.)
hidden away like a skeleton.
It has taken twenty plus years to get, from nowhere
to here. Amongst the settling shades of memory.

A good woman waits somewhere else instead;
Some said “for a husband, as if he were’nt dead.”
I palmed her hand on a cold window-visit’s caress.
Ceremony sees us deserving such torment.

I taste a scent of gallows…
  The ink under my skin, folded under my jumpsuit
  burns under scrutiny.
    I stand; Ready to be judged.
      Heard.
    I am what I am, no mask.
    I am not what I was;
      Just ask…

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