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Prison corridor with cells on both sides
Photo by MoreISO on iStock

When you’re locked up, they just see you as a number
Whether it’s your DOC or what you were sentenced to

Some will stay with you
And the rest get to up and running

Phone calls seem like you dialed long distance
When it continues to ring for minutes

Having to use your clothes to support your neck
Because your pillow was out of breath

Locked in the cell with a toilet for twenty-plus hours
And your cellie got to use the bathroom

Letting him know
Just make sure you put the sheet up

Waiting months for your package to come
Only to realize that it was never ordered to begin with

Chain bus came in and everyone waiting by the door
To see who they already know or if it’s anyone new

Have to make sure their paperwork is straight
Can’t just let anyone in the cell and share this bunk

During the holidays
You better plan ahead

Because people be on those phones
Trying to stay tapped in

Whether it’s shooting dice, politics, poker or basketball
I hope you really know what you’re doing

Because people who talk too much
Usually are the first to get exposed and put to the test

When you’re locked up
Ain’t no guns in here to save you

You have to be ready for whatever
Because you might just have to knuckle up

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.

Jamala Myres Jr. is a poet incarcerated in Washington state.