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An atlas sits open on a table in a dark library.
Photo by yellow2j on Depositphotos

My facility proudly bans books
     Anything they think may be “bad” or used to facilitate escape

But they fallaciously include innocent books like “Living Off the Grid”
     all about solar, geothermal and wind power

I giggle imagining an escaped client
     running through the woods with a windmill strapped to his back

Books on wilderness survival skills are banned
     Jack can’t teach us how to build a fire

Even certain National Geographics are prohibited
     we all know the joke — but they’re serious here

Trying to remind us we’re worthless
     the “worst of the worst”

Keeping us passively caged
     banning anything that might promote a better future

     Books incite dreams
and dreams are dangerous
     slipping easily between the bars
and escaping far, far away from here

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.

Matthew Feeney is a writer and poet who has won awards from PEN America and the League of Minnesota Poets. Feeney's writing has appeared in journals and anthologies, including The Analog Sea Review, The Pinyon Review, and Evening Street Review. Three of his poems were performed live at the 2019 World Voices Festival in New York City. Feeney is incarcerated in Minnesota.