Photo by Techa Tungateja via iStock

A few years ago my HANDS were empty, and full of the boxes labeled regret that I sometimes loaded in my basket. With both hands I’d go scrapping, sifting through other people’s junk.

I often found really good stuff, being an alley cat was thankless and tough, HANDS go up dodging bullets, catching the city spotlights and HANDS cuffed.

I met a street sage with kind HANDS once. He was missing fingers on one HAND. Counting friends in the other, advising me to dare not reach across the invisible line. Dividing the balance of his power and mine.

I hit, note after note, playing the lines of a forbidden sale.
Before I left I welcomed the rounds. Of applause. With full and tender lips.

I utterly thanked him. Then my fingers rolled in his Locs, and twisted down my own coils. Two victors nakedly, sweetly spoiled. Nubian crowns blessed with scented oils.

Walking back and moving the colorful slides across my priceless memory racks, now marking down, I realize. I realize we were overlooked by compassion and overworked by stress driven by fear so we toiled.

Both HANDS.

Owning no plot of soil to till, we at ground zero … so we broke down other men’s wells, rock by rock our chains trap us in the reigns. Gold rope burns at the palms and ankles. Ho, Mule. It’s all the same, we were captive by material, pharmaceuticals, and fame.

Bang! Bang! Shots rang and his phone hit the ground …
The game I stopped to play cheated my composer out of the sweetest score. My ears listen, but I can’t make out. His sound is no more.

My HANDS fiddle around but he can’t be touched.

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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Aoki Pink

Aoki Pink is an African American writer who was born in South Central Los Angeles and enjoys music, ice cream and making people laugh. She uses writing as a vehicle for social change and sees education and creative arts to be a way to reaffirm and reimagine the human condition through the eyes of the Black experience. She is incarcerated at California Institution for Women. Aoki Pink is her pen name.