1704038 (Looking Glass)

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The Prince of Mississippi made a come back on the river
I hid behind the pages of The Age of Reason
Chef Boyardee, in for cooking meth, said I looked a little crazy
“Y’know, with the hair and the glasses,” he said

On our bunks in kinfolk corner
The girls on my arms went gangster
and the blues took off their gloves

when I came in
the man gave me back some dignity
after the strip search
gave me welcome anonymity

gave me a bar of soap and half a toothbrush in a paper grocery bag

and a looking glass to see what I was made of

I didn’t plan to make a statement when I took my tray for dinner
too close, for Kevin, to Casper and the crew (Are you white?!)
If you came in without a place to hide inside your skin, my brothers
I guess it matters
where we eat this boiled crow

In the chains they made of color
The girls on my arms went gangster
And the blues took off their gloves

When I came in
they didn’t sing me loser lullabies
they showed me courtesy for time they thought I’d served

And when I fasted thereafter, they brought hard boiled eggs and apples

and a looking glass to see what I was made of

when I came in, it was Christmastime
through the gates in the back of a squad car
with a driver playing Tangerine Dream

Big ben, Chef Michael, Li’l wolverine
that guy with his past cut into his face
in alienation green

the supply crew and me
doing laundry by the ton
like tai chi

I untied 300 knots from bed sheets

but when we came in
they took the laces from our shoes
and gave us orange see-through plastic shower sandals