At the end of the line – Ditmars Boulevard
in Queens – shake yourself awake,
yawn, get off the N train.
In the shitty weather walk three blocks
north on 31st to the bus stop,
about 50 feet from the corner.
There you can wait in line with the nuns,
wives, mothers and girlfriends
for the Q100 to Rikers.
You've never been to this jail –
an island in the ocean sound
built on bones and sorrow,
landfill of ashes, ghosts,
hauled by the inmates
to make their own burial ground.
If you are looking for prison poets –
who shot their lovers like Verlaine shot Rimbaud –
they are slumped in plastic chairs in front of the tv.
They know a thief when they see one.
You are here with your poetry workshop
to steal what is furious, fierce,
Eat and feast on what is glorious:
"The heart of the poem of life
butchered out of their own bodies
good to eat a thousand years.*"
*Allen Ginsberg, "Howl"
Shay’s Word Garden