2 March 2003 | Vol. 3, No. 1
Increases in prison spending (in the U.S.)
average twice as high as increases in education spending.
– National Criminal Justice Commission, 1996
Ink forms the mathematical symbol
for infinity over a bicep.
The odor of sin lingers
in concrete blocks joined
and cemented like freak show twins.
Steel slams into heavier steel, man into man;
there's atonement in sex, he told me.
These urinals swallow enough soul
poison to form me an ice river
to fish when hell freezes over.
Veins chase imaginary needles
through an hour of dominoes;
a letter arrives in a perfumed envelope
with a photograph of a crew cut,
wearing a pint-sized man,
miniature and exact as the hole
his hero blew through a skull
three years, six months
and fourteen days ago tonight.
Steel slams into heavier steel;
he answers in block letters
from a cell in light so dim
you wouldn't skewer a lure by it
and prays for smokes and his son.
About the author:
Shelly Reed writes in Norwalk, Iowa, where she enjoys regular silence. Her work appears extensively online and in print, nationally and internationally. Recent poems appear or are scheduled for appearance with Comrades, Sometimes City, Wilmington Blues, and 2River.