In the Solitary Confinement of My Mind – by John Yohe

In the solitary confinement of my mind

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

I sit on the cement floor cross-legged

breathing softly keeping my back straight

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

I listen to music on a radio I’m given for good behavior

and pace for hours wall to wall to wall

I try to do push-ups

I sing

I construct a chess board with thread and lint that gets taken away

I write letters that no one ever answers

I read books

and leave notes in the margins because I know guards don’t read

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

my wrists and ankles are chained

I wear the same clothes every day

I am allowed outside one hour a day into a cement courtyard by myself

I am angry

I have nightmares

I sleep twelve to sixteen hours at a time

with the lights on

I listen to the obscenities of others

I listen to the obscenities of the guards

I jerk off thinking about women I can’t remember

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

I count the noises

the creaking door hinges

the slamming metal

the scraping bars

the breathing

the screaming

the crying

the praying

the fly in the corner

how did I get here?

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

I lose track of time

and I think I’ve been forgotten

I pound on the door so that people will know I’m still alive

so the guards come to my cell to remind me

and my music is taken away

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

I scream at the guards for not feeding me

I scream at the guards for not handing me my food tray in the correct way

I write poetry on the walls with my shit

I set my mattress on fire by shredding it and jamming the light socket

 

In the solitary confinement of my mind

I try hanging myself with the bedsheets

I stop up the cell door with socks and smash the toilet bowl

flushing until I’m standing in two feet of water

then I unstop the door

johnyohe

Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan and lives in Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, runner/busboy, bike messenger, wilderness ranger, fire lookout, as well as a teacher of writing. www.johnyohe.com

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