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Night sky over Salinas Valley State Prison
Illustration by Jessica Garza

Criminous-worn starry night sky, ink-swirling night sky

looked down upon a swarm of prison numbers, whose violence 

remembered in crimson bloodsport stains, aged in wrinkles 

of a crease-lined hardscrabble face, etched in every day 

and all night long that she, Salinas Valley State Prison, lived.

Had ever her prison inmates’ night-yard sky misbehaved 

in such calamitous inhospitality? Her gangbangers haunted 

by chagrinning shades of their own bullet-riddled dead, 

whose shadows gathered as darkness came with her night-flying 

raptorial ravening ravens! As the crow flies crowing 

their boasts, cant-cawing in prideful, sycophantically 

upbeat rap rants, their black feathered highlights shine a corpse 

wake in eerie glow of inimical gunmetal blue,

awakening the endless snaking coils of razor

wire, whose rows and rows and double rows of chain-link fence

that seem to go on and open forever in miles, surrounding

the prison grounds like a huge monster Venus’ flytrap,

waiting ever so patiently to electrify the captured inmates, 

sucking the life juices electrically out of ghetto sons, 

their bone-dry carcasses left to litter graveyard 

prison yards where tumbleweed thorn bushes crown their skulls. 

Many a minority prison inmate sacrificially died for society’s ills! 

Born of a rough start, dying imprisoned, starry night 

skyed, while the ruff-start dogs get loved and go free … 

The prison guards see from behind their  masks,

as starry hosts from heaven look so down upon us.

When the criminals imprisoned journal of this night,

a crazy whirlwind swirling dust and sky northern lights-like,

Salinas Valley State Prison’s ink-swirling night sky; I remember.

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.

Jessica Garza is a writer and artist incarcerated in California.