Remembrance

by Chris L.

It leans on my soul – my memory. Fried chicken and collard greens clung to the curtains of the house like the woman held on to the scars left by the man who long left. And in their wake, they left an invisible sight of smell…the kind that scratches at your mind like puke-colored carpet.

There’s a swinging lamp shade in the front room that feels like money that was left balled up in a jean pocket, long forgotten. There’s a pristine looking love seat that hides the piss stains on the springs – left by a little boy who was lost in a dream.

There are burnished bronze baby shoes with name plates and pictures – and the lemon pledge-scented wood reminds you that even the past must be wiped clean to be kept pure. There’s a tanginess to the beads hanging from the doorway that are only meant to be felt and heard.

And if the entrance of this brick castle in the ghetto could speak – each little creak of the wood floor under the rug would let you know that there’s love here.

Chris L. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans to share his soul in the form of songs and storytelling and giving back in any way that will help hurting hearts heal.

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Ugly Beauty

by Chris L.

My ugly beauty is like a mirror with multiple cracks – that makes one flaw “seem” like ten, but if you really look at yourself then you’ll find what I found in my reflection – the sobriety that comes which no longer being drunk on the perfection of the past. That’s why my growth is constant because my whole existence is defined by the vibration of a school bell. I never know what the next classroom holds. And some of my greatest growth happens whenever I say, “I didn’t see that coming at all!”

Chris L. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans to share his soul in the form of songs and storytelling and giving back in any way that will help hurting hearts heal.

Dimensions

By Albert H.

I sat up on many gloomy nights staring at the cell walls. And the small ray of hope ebbed itself through me in a small cell where you are able to only see the embers of dust present themselves as snowflakes dancing in the shadows with their angry, dirty faces. For many decades, I’ve adjusted to incarceration: the faint smell of the zoo and predators move themselves back and forth hoping that some soul would reach in, not to harm, but to feel the warmth of a kind heart. Existence for me became a 4×10 foot cell, in many cases, and as I reached out my arms the cell becomes smaller in size. Dimensions are an illusion. What they don’t compute is the toilet, bunks and sink. In some prisons, I can put a hand and shoulder against one wall and it’s not a far reach. Your existence is a cement dungeon, dry, stripped of all feelings. In these circumstances two men will get to know one another well and some will form a tight bond while others will want to kill each other before the first week is over. Cell size will depend on the relationship. I’ve seen so much violence and grief. For there is a camouflage of bloodshed and a reflection of a man’s eyes through the mirror, and I’m hoping to get a glimpse of some other soul, but really, we only see the screams and a sense of not being heard. I remember the fights behind the walls at another prison in California, and the smell of copper and the blood engraved blanket we wrapped with a man’s flesh and a body being carried out. We chose the life because we were born into this life.

Albert H. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans on continuing to write and spend time with family.