The prisoner woke-up and saw the usual grey and green brick walls. Every night he slept on a straw bed. He had a wooden stool that wobbled on the floor, and a window with a tree in it. This was his room, a home which he lovingly called his “Mausoleum.”

The first time he was cast into this room he was a man, defiant about not letting this suffocating hole shut out his dignity. First, he tried to accept this situation and look upon it objectively, forbidding emotion to drive him into despair. When he was marching down the hall to meet his prison the hall was filled with indignant screams, howling and groans from the other prisoners that occupied their own spaces. He didn’t want to be like that; he was a man. But that first night, when he was staring at the tree outside and the cold surface of the moon his stomach rebelled and turned to sickness. He wouldn’t eat the bowl of brown gruel and bread, and felt like a pathetic animal as he lied awkwardly on the straw. The air alternated between staleness and dampness and his neck gagged. The pain in his stomach was harsh and he could only yell and cry.

But now, he was no longer sick; he was no longer a suffering animal or a man adamant about dignity. He was a man who marveled at the tree outside and wondered what the previous occupants of his room thought of this tree. Surely, some fools saw it as a symbol of freedom. Perhaps a prince stared at the tree and felt it was placed there by sadistic hands, intent on mocking his utter downfall. The prisoner didn’t know better for he often looked at the tree both ways, disgusted, or consumed by joy as the wind moved the leaves.

The Mother

Death throbs throughout
her body. (She pushed
the needle, and her eyes
are tethered to the empty,
white ceiling.)

Her mind clings to Michael
who’s fixated on the swings.
He is released and attacks
the playground. Why is he so
Finally, his eyes pull
away from the sand, he waves.
She tries to push a smile,
but she can tell–from his changing
face–he is learning.     

To the Ugly, Old Dog

The years have given
you warts, 
that is why nobody wants
to touch your head. 
I remember
when you used
to bite at things
real and begged
for my hand.
Now, you sneer
at shadows,
and whimper 
from underneath
the bed. 

And to be unseen
is the only gift


An edited version of a poem originally published in the September issue of The Paperbook Collective.

I made love to Bukowski

It took him six tries
to get it up. His penis
was somewhat
defective. His body
was a greasy blob
and after he came,
he vomited on the bed
and kicked me out,
threw a bottle at my head
but missed terribly.

and when he died
I defecated
all over his face. Seriously,
fuck that guy.

Based on actual events.