Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash.

You know the infamous architectural
structure, now a landmark, that
was erected early in the 20th century
on the grounds of Stateville Penitentiary?

You know, the round house,
the last of its kind in the
world?

You know, the one where they filmed
“Natural Born Killers”
with Nicholas Cage
And “Public Enemy #1”
with Johnny Depp?

You know, the building that was so
condemned that it had
to be shut down but couldn’t be
torn down because it’s a landmark?

I’m talking about the place where
the roaches and rats produced 10,000
generations of super insects and rodents.
I think I saw a hybrid of the two,
the kind that can survive with no viable food sources.

This is the type of place you
wouldn’t send a terrorist to.

Well — guess what?
That’s where I am!

Omicron happened!

As if Omicron is any justification,
they reopened the very place
that was “legally” ruled condemned
because it was unlivable, uninhabitable,
a place devoid of any dignity, respect —
and some would say: HUMANITY!

This is where I’m supposed to isolate?

Is inhaling mold, drinking lead,
And bathing in water so brown your white towels
look like toilet paper after the wipe — is this humane?

Why does my isolation feel
so much more punitive?
How can I heal if I am not
being monitored?

No one has told me my
actual status. They just
banished me from one
place of mental and emotional
torment to another part of
the prison that is far worse.

Immediately upon arrival,
I felt the last remnants of
my humanity evaporate into
an apathetic abyss of neglect
and moral nothingness.

Not to be left behind,
my 8th amendment rights vanished too.

On second thought,
maybe it’s a good thing Omicron is so vicious.

How else would we have
found out that some staff
were unvaccinated and lying
about their statistics?

It’s not a conspiracy if it’s true!

These people are trying to kill us,
and my words are the proof.

I’m buried above ground,
suspended in the clutches of purgatory;
I’m sending telekinetic vibrations to my comrades while I
Impatiently await my salvation.

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.

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Leshun Smith

LeShun Smith is a poet and a student in the Northwestern Prison Education Program. He is incarcerated in Illinois.