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Writer’s note: My lyrics have a lot of alcoholic references. As a prisoner, I contemplate what I must do to start reaching my highest goals. I see parole this month. My incarceration may be coming to an end. Divinity willing, so won’t my alcoholism.

Chain Gang

You reap what you sow
You make your own fate
You live in the cold
You get there from your own feet
Destiny’s verdict, my destiny screams
To walk in chains 
In the belly of the beast
How long must I walk in chains?
How long must I dance with the devil?
Indeed I’m a man of fate
On my bus ride to the chain gang

Shackled and handcuffed
Lookin’ out the window
Paper shoes 
There’s scars on my ankles
Time is time 
No matter the state 
I carry around my big ball and chain
Another number, this is the third
A woman leaves me, this ain’t the first
So it’s settled
My prison song
In the big house, 
I pluck this cheap guitar

Life on Parole

It’s not going to be easy
With my life on parole
Gettin’ out, out of the pen 
Coming home to see what’s left
My wife hit the road long ago
Don’t drink again
Is what I’ve been told
So I’m working
Got me a job
People at meetings talkin’ bout God
I don’t need whisky
But it’s something I want

I love a Goddess and Pan wants me drunk
Dinner for two
I met a girl, she seems cool
She don’t want pearls
She wants a man to open up doors
But she wants Bacardi
And that makes me naughty

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.

Harold Sanford Carter III is a musician and activist whose poetry has been published in the Journal of Progressive Health and Human Services as well as the American Prison Writing Archive. He was formerly incarcerated in Pennsylvania.