Penal Colony No.14.

1 February 2014

When the wind howls, like a Belaz 75710
blasting through huts, wire fencing, padded jackets
you know there is snow coming
the fields will be white like heroin
and then you don’t need fences
there is nowhere to go, but the cathedral vastness of the mind

and the time it takes to walk a cell
to shower, and shit, and play games with the warders
like pretending to be killed, or that the world has not forgotten
that you are on hunger-strike, that you have been beaten-up
or sexually molested, or this is not now, but between the wars.

Where have all the great poets gone?
bargaining their meagre rations for scraps of thin paper
to write their poems on, hiding them behind broken masonry
in their cells, on the chicken farms, factory floors
until they rot unfound, unread

or memorizing each agonizing word, line, verse
in their food-starved, work-numb minds
until the first word, line, verse disintegrates
and disappears like salt waves falling back on a beach.

There are only the old women left Nadezhda
some have been here for years
neither kind nor cruel, but indifferent
to suffering borne or given,
oh, and young girls writing punk lyrics
to a man on a pale horse in Siberia.

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