This prisoner, isolation wing,
wounded, clipped, in stutter nest,
unfettered need, communicate,
beyond the clamp, a grind of teeth,
stumped, just left, ignored, but there.
Light all night, the clock reset,
sidereal, side-tracked from norm,
a clatter plate, enamel slide,
the peep show if a suicide,
to bring him down, cut down to size,
so put in place, box hideaway,
more dust to dust, as when alive.

What device is in my reach
to manipulate, lead by the hand,
if not the shaven head, bone show,
the shrinking flesh, distracted mind?
Perhaps his mother, never known
where son was taken, dead the night,
his debt unknown, collaborate.
Maybe her neighbour, vacant wells,
her son in jail, well-ordered life,
release from shift, except in eyes,
a uniform to wash, dry, press,
from office of the waterboard.

Both sons and mothers, all ignored,
to do, be done by, as are told,
drawn, and quartered, staff block, cell,
blank wall to tell what’s scratched on mind.
But can you hear the wailers’ songs,
the pitcher’s cream, the dripping clock,
through facial cloth, a sodden cough?
Blushed pallor, guilt-edged memories
of those removed from histories,
save stories from their mothers’ breasts.



Stephen Kingsnorth, retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church with Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, including Ink Sweat & Tears.