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Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

Crowded cells filled with metal bunks
Covered in crimson rust,
Vagrant walls lined two-by-two with shackled prisoners
Ushered down concrete halls layered in scarlet dust.

A calloused cast of hostile guards
Soured and scarred by the ravages of time,
Scattered strips of ragged clothes
Strewn all about the cluttered dayroom,
Every piece the same bland color and stagnant design.

Damaged and broken bodies
Numbers chained to antique hospital beds,
Ripened bruises and jagged wounds
Slowly fading from surly black
Transform into angry reds.

Somber prison yards
Bathed in staggered summer sheen,
As feral cats run at play
Tiny kittens newly weaned.

A green-clad army fervent at work
Marching all in a line,
Glistening guns and batons secured on utility belts
Hang like poisonous grapes on a vine.

Bloodstained cement shines
’Neath tarnished ochre glaze
As teargas slowly swallows
Early mooning’s haze.

Shards of sharpened steel,
A broken locker’s last remains.
And endless litter of discarded weapons,
Abandoned arms defused
Collecting drizzle in the winter rains.

Darkness quickens in the flickering flames
Of mattresses set afire,
Shadows lapse between the vacant coils
Of immeasurable razor wire.

Heaven dances in the starry twilight
Mocking inmates as they kneel and pray,
All throughout the glowering prison
Desolation reigns —
Satan’s handiwork on vivid display.

Silence finally claims the clamoring tier,
As a thousand troubled souls lie in silent repose.
Martyred reflections of prison life
Are poetically exposed.

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.

Travis Britt is a poet who has been writing since he was a teenager. A devout Christian, Britt is enrolled in a master’s program for pastoral ministry and theology at International Christian College and Seminary. He is incarcerated in California.