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A grid of nine identical white squares of paper are pinned to a blue wall.
Photo by Spectral on Depositphotos

Let me tell you a story about little paper strips,
Different places have different names for it,
But in general, let’s just call it a request slip.
No money?
Need an indigent pack?
Fill out one of these,
And maybe someone will respond back.
Clothes too small?
Write your request here,
And drape it in the box, headed toward laundry, at the end of the hall.
Want a new job?
A meeting with staff?
Change your diet?
These multi-tasking, identical pieces of scrap cover all of that.
Do not ask a guard for a specific answer to better your plight,
I swear during training, all they teach is how to say “just send a kite.”*
I have sent so many kites, I find myself out of strings,
Dear Mr. Franklin, my lightning-catching device is fraying at the seams.
You would expect a response, but this is not always true,
Better here you do not get sick,
Because by the time they process your slip, it could be the end of you.
For my next request,
Or kite if you will.
I am going to ask to be let go,
No big deal.
Maybe this request will be granted in a timely fashion?

*A kite is a message or a letter that could be for staff or other incarcerated individuals. In the latter case, it might be written in code on a small piece of paper from the wrapper of a bar of soap shuttled between cells.

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.

Chantry Loewen

Chantry Loewen is a writer incarcerated in Colorado.