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Prison cell with shadows of stanchions projected on floor from light on window
Photo illustration by BrillianceEye on Depositphotos

Show your hands
Open your mouth

Turn around
Show your feet
Squat and cough
Bend and spread
All this after a visit

It’s ridiculous
But what’s even more crazy is I go through it with no feelings
I’m numb to the experience
A man watching me buck naked
This same routine

With no shame
Because it is what it is
I just face it
That part has left
Feeling violated

I’ve been stripped of pride
I’m just vacant
Another reminder
To get the fuck out
Every day in here is a reminder

To get the fuck out
Flush while I piss
Flush while I shit
Prison etiquette
Yeah, it’s proper

But if you’re in bed it’s another reminder
To get free
Back to society
Where you don’t share a bathroom
Where you also eat and sleep

Sharing showers with shoes on your feet
Everything shared
Like the air that’s breathed
So if someone gets sick
It’ll soon spread

I wish it was like that with good shit
I wish the release of one would make it easier for others
But it’s the opposite
One’s mistake causes crackdowns in higher numbers
It’s like they’ve all given up on me

In this correctional facility
In this correctional system
How can I prove that I’ve used their system to correct me
So that they’ll let me be free

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

J.S. Russell is a poet incarcerated in Maryland.