Photo by Murray Campbell on Unsplash

I wake in the the predawn darkness to other darknesses surrounding me, thoughts become
demons hounding me, they all start yelling, crowding me

Wall towers tower like centurions, guardians at the gate preventing my escape, windows obscured by phantoms or just dancing trees whose leaves

blow in the wind while security lights shine on me, my life lit up kaleidoscopically, capturing me in 8mm peripheral visions envisioning far off

places as I sit in tight spaces, the cell block breathes deeply in slumber occasionally I number the snoring sound of life forces under covers whose

spirits escape as they canvas their dreams and nightmares, demons of the past standing right there, I’m still running (not fast enough), a lifetime spent

just (catching up) making plans, but the body gets old as I sit still in the cold
by myself, I need water to splash on my face, put in a glass just in case my

throat gets dry and I need a taste from the dry scratching sound of footsteps in the dark, hark — who goes there, keys jingling in syncopated rhythm,

as the air exchange cycles like the air needed for life to recycle in steady, droning hum, details of a soundscape with no escape for restless thoughts

like mine, slowly, imperceptibly, each minute expires and the quiet begins to erode as the structured chaos explodes as I make morning ablutions

in exchange of a former life filled with 7% solutions, still, I try to hold on to the quiet where all intimidations, real and imagined, are restrained, muted and

have no power as sixty minutes pursues the hour, the quiet is a place where I play the videos of past games where I ran out of past lives, and now wind

blown thoughts luminesce in dark skies, wish as I might, there is no altering the passage of time, in the quiet I sometime imagine the future with all the

optimism and promise that hope provides, but reality stake claims to aspirations and in inspiration I’m reminded of this, in the quiet I feel my

breath and hear my beating heart give thanks to a God Who seems elusive and never provides clear answers, but still time advances, not always with

second
chances

My clock reads 5:33 a.m. and I’m pulled away from the quiet imaginings of me to begin choreographed dances with others seeking life beyond the tower

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Reginald Stephen

Reginald Stephen is a contributing writer for the Prison Journalism Project and currently incarcerated in New York.