Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Be someone TO COUNT ON in 2015

By any means of counting, 
the number of incarcerated persons in the United States 

and the proportion of prisoners with BLACK SKIN
  and there is TOO MUCH VIOLENCE and DEATH in our prisons.

RESOLVE to stop the violence (RSVP)  in America's prisons!  Work for fair sentencing and Equal Justice!  Let your resolutions for the New Year 2015 be inspired by a poem;  the one below is from Poetry, 2009, found at poetryfoundation.org  -- and you may find more at Split This Rock.

To the voice of the retired warden of Huntsville Prison
(Texas death chamber)                 by Averill Curdy

Until wolf-light I will count my sheep,
       Adumbrated, uncomedic, as they are.
       One is perdu, two, qualm, three
                           Is sprawl, four, too late,

Night is already a thirsty county in Texas,
                            Salt flat and unremitting
        Blacktop dry as my mouth,
        And your elastic vowels, my genial,

                            My electric ghost, my
        Radio’s lonely station. Because the spectacle
Of suffering corrupts us, all punishments
        Are now executive, offstage.

        Most presume you a fable:
        Echoes of approaching bootheels
That harry labyrinths of concrete corridors,
                           Or hooded in burlap.

                           We are convicted
        As we are also pardoned: He cherished
        His lawn, or afterwards he covered
The victim’s face. You make no judgments

        Yourself. Only in bursal tones,
                           Tactful as the file box
That shows, if opened, the neon, pleading heart
        Of Jesus wrapped in barbed wire,

You perform penalties others have scripted, so
                           Untroubled by so many.
        How long I have listened to you
        For news of the opal distances,
Or rain to freshen the morning’s arrival.
        What keeps me awake? Nothing
        More than a fly’s dysenteric violin.
                              What puts me to sleep

        Is your clement voice, saying
The dark has no teeth. While men like you live
                             In this world do I dream
          I am either safe or spared?


  1. My sister Charlotte in Boston is working toward prison reform and she sends a link to this site:
    where we read, among other items designed to move us from injustice to action, these shocking words:

    The United States has 5%
    of the world’s population but 25%
    of the world’s incarcerated population

    1. Thanks, Char, for your work on this important project!