An empty oyster half shell sits on a beach with the ocean in the background
Photo by xiaokang Zhang on Unsplash

I am a single miniscule grain of
         sand
dying of thirst in a desert of nearly 2 million other insignificant
         specks

Entire beaches of silica swallowed
whole by America’s incarceration monstrosity called
         Prison
         Reformatory
         Jail
         Secure Detention Facility
         Penitentiary
         House of Corrections
         Land of the Lost

The infinite granite walls a hard
         Shell
clamping down, locking us in

We see behind the concrete curtain
watching in horror as
the great and terrible
administrative wizards wind & grind
the inner machinations of the
         System
spineless, heartless, cold-blooded as an
         Oyster

My burden: to try to fix the broken by
         writing
grievances, kites, letters,
fiction, appeals, essays and
         Poems
(like this one)

I’m only one speck of sand
creating a little friction
a minor irritation to the Goliath leviathan

But maybe someday I’ll be a
         Pearl.

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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Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney is a writer and poet, who has won awards from PEN America and the League of Minnesota Poets. Matthew’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. Matthew is incarcerated in Minnesota.