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A prison cell, a pandemic swells, already sentenced to hell, 
now I’m positive for a virus that kills. Social distance is a laugh 
with two people in a cell, caught in a situation. Even the officers 
can’t ensure my safety, especially when they’re bringing it in. 

False efforts to keep us separate. Mass incarceration, the last 
to get vaccinated. I can’t help but count my blessings, and many 
of us act as though we’re not scared, but how can you not be 
when a person you know winds up dead? A hard thought to swallow, 

quarantine to follow. Overwhelmed, hoping my immune system prevails, 
because it’s truly about survival of the fittest. To make sure we all get it, 
that’s the protocol, can’t save us all. A casualty in a war that has no sympathy. 
Am I really that much less of a person that the system thinks death is the best thing for me? 

Now I have to file a grievance because I lost my sense of smell and taste. 
Litigation may be my only means of compensation. And maybe it’s a waste, 
but 89 other people died in this place. A lot of names but I only see my face. 
The thing is: COVID-19 has no rules, so what the hell do I have to lose?

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

Desmond Williams is a writer incarcerated in Michigan.