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Posts Tagged ‘incarceration’

Wednesday Evening / Thursday

the white limo flashing red lights,  strapped, trapped
get me off this ride, let me off, let me out I scream inside my head
that’s where the tears should have stayed when I lay upon my bed
but blind hot anger and hurt dragged them out
like weapons being drawn, a cat protecting it’s prey
I don’t belong here I sob

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

the cold, brightly darkened room makes no sense at all,
senseless questions, senseless answers clear the walls
a guard sits by my door, he brings me a blanket,
and warm ginger-ale and a sandwich in a brown paper bag,
I’m eating his midnight lunch, I think
his kindness is sincere
in return I will help him pass the unmoving time
I don’t belong here,  I hoarsely repeat

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

simple accommodations just for a day or two or three or a zillion
belted and bangled the uniformed driver whisks me away
in a sleek silver town car with gilded letters
blue flashing lights, compliments of the county
silent black familiar scenes pass, a lighthouse looms
The SS Cuckoo’s Nest awaits
but I don’t belong here, I plead

just don’t give them lip, God whispers

I didn’t make these reservations, I tell them at check-in,
this is a mistake
‘it’s alright now, we’re here to help, we have room’
dirty and dingy, screaming, not my style
there must be bedbugs
in my nakedness I lift my breasts so they can search for contraband
maybe a gun, or heroin, game prey
defensive, defenseless, what about my butt-crack?
stripped of identity, dignity, all of me removed and spread across a table
granddaughters and dollar general receipt, my life
dressed in pea green and a diaper,
yellow skidproof socks don’t match
‘you can make this hard or you can make this easy,
either way you’ll stay’
I don’t belong here,  I whimper

don’t give them any lip,  God whispers

Bill Gates is sent to bed so I can speak privately to the firm but kind eyes
across the marred and stained forties dining table
pages of questions guardedly answered.  I’m trembling
‘will you try to flee or hurt someone or destroy anything or destroy you,
how did your grandfather commit suicide, do you have children, are you allergic,
was your mother ever admitted in foxboro, are you crazy?
answers in half truths, lies, honesty, fear
answers they want to hear, answers they like, answers to no questions
so they won’t toss me overboard
’24-hour watch’ is not one day I realize
my husband is coming to get me, the one I struck
no he’s not, my head is imploding
I don’t belong here,  I surrender

just don’t give them any lip,  God whispers

across a glaring hall,  my stateroom
the sounds of unnatural sleep escape the door
held ajar by a towel shoved in the crack
inside is devoid of any creature comforts,
no down or satin,
no flowers, no chocolate on my thin, plastic pillow
absent is the coffee-maker and mini-bar I desperately need
nothing sharp in sight, no weapons, no light, no dark
three beds to a room, two strangers
thin blankets muffle their sleep noise
loose bed-cloths laid atop a plastic mattress
as I lie down, it crinkles
a dirty window, flashes summer lightning
tape residue alludes to cheerfulness, long gone or rules
the nurse brings me a pee bottle, pills and water
‘Good night, dear’, ‘I’m off till Friday, see you then’
‘I’m going home tomorrow’ as i thank her for her gentleness
she sadly looks at me knowingly and nods her head
‘then have a good life’
you know I don’t belong here, ‘noone does’ she softly says

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

the sleeping pills fail me
i stare at the door ajar and the light without
glaring into my tearful eyes
in the door crack vigilant eyes peer
to confirm our presence safely in bed
not escaped or dead
i need to pee
i stand and a caliope blares, ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ from my bed
the body of the eyes comes to switch off the annoying alarm
so i won’t wake my roommates
‘can i use the bathroom?’ feigning politeness
the strange flat cone shaped door-handle is
difficult for my hands to open,
she responds to my inadeptness and opens the door
then waits until I’m finished and back in bed
sleep wins, it drags me under just before dawn
I don’t belong here, I weep

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

morning noise intrude my pleasant dream
awakened, disoriented, I stand, the calliope again blares
then shrill, peircing whines escape from Lois.
Somehow Renee, between the clamor, softly snores, unpalled
daylight maximizes the dining room’s neglect
wood spindle chairs surround the worn table
a big tv commands one corner, a counter holds paper cups,
the walls are covered in children’s coloring pages,
several office sofas line the otherwise empty walls.
a room-width window overlooks a tiny courtyard
my spirit lifts to see bird-feeders placed near the window,
but my joy is diminished when I spot the locked, eight foot wrought-iron fence
reminding me of where I am
this wing is the shorthaul(sic) for geriatrics
more wings unseen, spiral off the main building, like spiders legs
everyone has now migrated from their beds
to their sitting place in the dining-room
some around the table, other against the walls
I sit close to the birds, in front of the window
the nurse introduces the crew, me to them and them to me
souls I don’t want to know or be near
names I’ll never remember but people I’ll never forget
I don’t belong here, I murmur

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

Lois is all but deaf, a large black women
she plays solitare at the table silently
when she speaks she screeches, fingernails across
slate, fairly spitting from her insides
Jimmy the homeless, commands and seeks attention
he can’t write, only read, he tells riddles
Renee stares down at the floor hands folded politely in her lap, unmoving
William is tall and dreadfully-deadfully thin, he won’t eat, can’t swallow,
no food passes his lips while I am there
Bill (Gates) speaks to me without expression, I wonder if he is aware
I’m even there but he is kind in his welcome, he turns then and he speaks of danger
and he poses his hand like a gun and shoots
Wally is a man of color, the darkest, deepest, biggest blackest man I’ve ever seen
his white eyes and teeth contrasts with his blackness, bound to a wheelchair
He gazes around the room looking, just looking, menacingly looking, he scares me
Thomas is as tall and thin as William and he sits on a sofa wrapped in a blanket
cocoon-like, his face and shoulders covered in white cotton
Richard, a leprechaun-like man, tiny pointed ears, bald head, bright blue Dommler eyes, he speaks in a whisper, the antithesis of Lois
i don’t belong here

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

Morning services begin, blood-pressures,
nurses scurrying back and forth, pills, breakfast,
still scurrying moving, moving laughing, crying, noise,
damn the noise, the movement
I scream in my head I don’t want to play
God of all Gods get me out of here
and the moment is passed
take me home babe….please?
today’s PT will be yoga,
not me, I take my que from Thomas
I wrap myself in white and with the birds I will disobey
as faraway as I can fly in this corner
the gentle music drifts me into sleep
I don’t belong here

just don’t give them any lip, God whisper

the morning social debarks with a new carafe of coffee
that doesn’t go around
and a banana for each
the room fills with talk and banter,
old and new alliances being made with the
‘why are you here’ question
passengers stroll the shorthaul(sic)
and even use the phone out there
John Wayne takes his place on the tv
and the staff scribbles their notes and listen and watch
Is there any tea? so simple
No tea, extraordinary I should ask. Tea. Incredulous really, tea?
where could we keep it, the string, the tag, hot water,
unthinkable, irrational tea,
kill myself on the string?
it must be authorized, doctor prescribed, tea
I don’t belong here, you know

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

napping is not on today’s plan instead
we put on his brain movie
make him feel welcome
the man arrives and the staff fairly curtsey
The Doctor, The PSYCH
freshly gelled black hair
black from head to toe
his mouth smiles to me briefly as he makes his way
from one to another speaking in undertones
HE touches the arm of Lois, to get her attention,
from her private reverie
startled she screeches ‘dunyo put yo hand on me’
and jerks away, ‘git yo hand offa me’
‘dun yo touch me’ up one more octave ‘dun you touch me’, one more
in a flash, she’s gone
down to the longhaul(sic) I’m told
then he’s gone and I’ve forgotten to ask him about tea
I don’t belong here

just don’t give them any lip God whispers

warily I enter the bathroom to shower
care given to where I step barefoot
next to renee’s pee bottle, my bin of personal products
perched precariously on the edge of the sink
are threatening to jump
there is no toilet tank to rest my clean pea-green jumpsuit
nor a toilet seat cover to set my towel,
no hooks to conveniently hang anything
the door doesn’t lock
and the shower curtain is bolted to the ceiling
the water at the sink is the seeing eye kind
found at rest-stops across america
hands under, on, hands out, off
teeth-brushing becomes a game
the shower is, at least, almost hot
i wash with the liquid, combination super, duper, body wash turned shampoo, turned conditioner, turned bath soap
and i think
the bathroom is really a feat of ingenuity
there is not a sharp edge hurtful enough
no length of metal long enough to hang oneself from
nothing loose enough to use as a weapon or hot enough to scald the dingy floor I tiptoe around
I don’t belong here, I laugh pitifully

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

i dress again in the uniform of the day
in time for the Psych to arrive again for a lengthy private interview
i shall call him Dr. Pompous
smiling teeth and empty eyes ask
what floor is this, spell world backwards
what city are we in, what day is today
on an on
I’m an addict, he says, prescription drugs
sure, one pain pill a day for a frigged up back held together by screws,
fibromyalgia, DA, OA, can’t sleep, don’t want to eat and I’m addicted to ONE pain pill a day
consult with my other doctors, Dr. Pompous!
His arrogance speaks his disdain
there is no-one that knows what he knows
the proof is in the pee, narcotic pee
this shamin reads pee like a gypsy reads tea leaves
he will get me well with
anti-seizure drugs and anti-depressants and sleeping pills and MOTRIN
and thank you Dr.Pompous, I shall have tea
a quarter-hour has passed
i don’t belong here, Dr. Darkness
but, yes I shall have tea.

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

the phone in the hall is occupied
i’m impatient now to speak
tea bags, please bring tea bags
He said I could have some
call all my trusted doctors
get me out of here
tell them all about these new drugs
look it up on the computer i miss you so
and the lawyer
bring clothes and tea bags
and something to read
i can not bear the chatter
round the table another day
i watch as the nurse makes notes
and looks at me
bring some tea bags
and i will forgive you for letting this happen
i don’t belong here Richard

just don’t give them any lip, He says

another poor soul came in today
dressed in the same pea green
glory i will call her
about my age
stressed eyes i had seen during my
tortuous admission
waiting in line for her turn
tired dark eyes
long black hair
she certainly doesn’t belong here
she reminds me of me
looks like they let all kinds on this rocky ship
she does’t belong here just like me
a comrade
a friend
more
a soul saver
i don’t belong here, dear God

and God whispers, don’t give them any lip

visitors receive a pat down
show id
car keys confiscated
everything in the kroger bag
will be inventoried, washed and name permanently written on the tags
Lady Hanes L.Ronan white underwear
two tee shirts and jeans
a treasure trove
of reading
taste of home and bon appetit
crosswords and puzzles
gifts of gold and silver
the tea has gone missing
confiscated
not allowed they say
But it was prescribed but..
they didn’t receive His orders
i don’t belong here anymore

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

Friday

i slept better than i really wanted to
i passed out from stress and my body’s pure exhaustion
i slept and dreamed happy dreams, then i woke
and cried
in the dining room Bill Gates sat where he had before
and i wondered if he had been to bed at all
good morning he said, there is coffee
i drew a cup, found the sugar and cream and sat down
they’re coming today, he said
watch out, be careful
then slowly the room filled with the others
‘did you hear me?’ Bill reiterated
yes, i spoke to him gently, I heard
glory entered the room looking oddly
at home
she joined bill and i and we listened to her story
crazy for someone of her caliber to be here
she came from the county jail
she attacked her spouse with a garden rake
as she was gardening
crazy
but she knows Jesus and will help
us sing and be joyous on this
journey
Jimmy makes coffee for Glory but she does’t drink it
She instead tells her story
glory sets the stage like a hostess at a party
Under the counter jimmy finds a crude green paper top-hat
made and forgotten by a faceless inmate for St.Patty’s day
when he puts it on
I laugh I really laugh
Jimmy and Glory and Bill and I laugh
Silliness overtakes us all
breakfast comes
we don’t belong here, Glory

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

today’s recreational therapy will take us outside
we’ve all longed for
in the hellacious heat, and unmoving air
a brick walled picnic area and tables.
a few plants, blistered and dry in their pots
draw my attention
from the conversation
about stress and coping
and anger
i found life hiding under a bush
and pulled it willingly out of the soil
a wandering jew
i buried its roots in the planter
for future generations
of inmates
bill and andrew joined me, then glory
filling the pots
with the cool green plants
that had gone wild in
this place
i don’t belong here

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

the hour outdoors moves too quickly
and we are herded inside
to the ‘rec/dining’ room where
Dr.Arrogance fills the tv screen
while we wait for his evanescent visit
my turn I tell him about my missing tea
he writes it in his notebook
after lunch it’s promised that we’ll play a game
a game of recollection
50’s songs and their artists
then
Another John Wayne movie or
we are free to walk the short hall
back and forth
just to keep our legs alive
and listen to the telephone conversations
glory says her heart hurts
and the medics take her away
bill displays his obvious infatuation
and cries
“she’ll be back””, the nurse says
in a matter of fact way
she’ll be just fine
new patients arrive
two this time
Glory’s bed stays empty
I don’t belong here

Just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

No word on Glory
Pete and Joe have settled in
Pete was found unconcious
after a suicide attempt
he is Italian and likes to cook
Joe admitted himself for alcohol and
anxiety and lives nearby on the ocean
He is a tall, thin man
He gets rediculously double meals
that barely fit the plastic hospital trays
that bear our meals
I wonder that the last three patients
are people just like me
maybe the others are too
visiting hours
Richard and I meet with the head therapist
he hears her too
Monday or Tuesday I can leave
and she’ll get me tea
she’ll buy it herself if she has to
i don’t belong here

just don’t give them any lip, God Whispers

Saturday

scrambled powdered eggs again
with almost bacon and a single piece of toast
no jelly
and the dreadful coffee
a new group of eyes watch us
watch tv
a different set of hands record our
blood pressure and temperature
and state of mind
no play time today
its saturday
new crew new rules new day new dawn
the remote is missing again
wally smiles devilishly
white teeth gleaming
the nurse wrestles it from him
and hides it
i look at my magazine
and block out
the andy griffith, mayberry rerun
i read the page again and again never quite wrapping my head around it
i get up from the place i’ve claimed
at the table to walk the hall
bill stands in the corner
i realize he is crying
he’s terrified
his arms are wrapped about his body
cowering, shaking, sobbing
i go to get the nurse
and she comes and takes him away
another one bites the dust
as they say
down to the long haul
i don’t belong here

just don’t give them any lip, God whispers

Sunday

Sunday services will not be held
instead we eat pancakes with
our powdered eggs
and halleluia
john wayne and andy griffith
have been retired
visitors can come early
and stay longer
how much can one say in a room
filled with strangers
visiting even with my husband is uncomfortable
how’s the weather?
how are my dogs?
i can’t speak of this place
or the people
they listen and take notes
three more woman came today
one wife of a preacher
what on earth is her reason
to be in this prison called rehab
an elderly lady is wheeled in
badly bruised and nursing an arm in a sling
her quiet calm nature
endears her to me
Lorraine is 86
she will sleep in the cot
next to me
i take it upon myself to oversee
to take charge
she becomes my rationale for being here
tonight i shall be her guardian
she my ward
i have something to do
i don’t belong here

don’t give them any lip, God whispers

Monday

i can’t go home
lies, all lies
i will be here for 10 days
no matter what i do
quietly outraged
i am afterall a prisoner
i knew this to be true
my new found friends
told me the truth
this is not a cruiseship afterall
but i will care for lorraine
and Glory will care for the others
i will not go home
but here is my tea
finally
and Lou has joined the group
a comical Lawyer Jew from New York
i say that lovingly
he cheers us
and makes us laugh
he makes us laugh in spite
of his desperate sadness
at being alone without
his life’s companion
and more come to be here
men wearing green
instead of suits and ties
not asking for help
to overcome
that which brings them pain
i don’t belong here

 

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