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After the apples, oranges,
and fruit cocktails have spoiled,
they will eat up the jellies,
the same way the minutes ate
up my youth inside of this beast.

The big plastic bag will stop
blowing up; that’s the sign that
it has stopped cooking and the pruno is done.

A pillow case will assist me in
straining the batch, separating the kicker from the juice separating
my family.
Injustice separates against one’s will.

The batch sits in the corner of my cell
as I tape up a stinger. An old electric outlet
and a piece of metal will help me burn
this batch tonight.

An all night task stares back at me as l tape
a new plastic bag to the opening of the pruno batch.
A white bucket assists me in holding the stinger in place, then the alcohol evaporates and starts sweating
into the new bag.

My hands tremble.

I hear the CO’s keys as he approaches my cell.
It’s Counting Time 3:30AM.
I lay as if I’m asleep
but under my bunk my creation is coming to life.
I’m done. I flush all the old pruno batch
and I marvel at the white liquid. I dip a spoon
to taste my creation, it’s 100% pure.

I know I’m alcoholic. I will escape for a few days.
I will travel back in time to when I didn’t know pain.
I will forget that I’m in this cell for a crime I did not commit. This white lightning
will bring her back.
My two-door Cutlass Brougham sitting on Daytona
whitewall tires will take me back to ‘94, ‘95.
Under the influence I feel alive.

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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Ubaldo Teque Jr.

Ubaldo Teque Jr. is a Guatemalan poet, essayist and memoirist from Southern California. His poetry and prose have appeared in Red Wheelbarrow, Pilgrimage and other publications and was read on the program Central Coast Poetry Shows on Community Television of. He self-published his first collection of poems and essays, “Niño Inmigrante” through Amazon in August 2020. He enjoys translation and has translated many of his father's poems from Spanish to English. Ubaldo is incarcerated in California.