By Eddie Williams

I’m rougher than any thug. I don’t do hugs, there is no room for love. I’m free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally. Consumed by the isolation and the same old routine, I breakdown the weak so easily. Empowered by the thirteenth amendment. I own you slave! Ankles scarred, wrists swelled, handcuffed and shackled, never again will you be without a blemish. I’m the only subject in your sentence. I’m a graduate school for the dropouts. And I have given out more degrees than a university. I’m a genius. Capitalize on your bad decision. And once I take hold, it’ll be worse than any drug. Dependent broken soul give up hope all ye who enter here. Like gravity I pull the nefarious toward me. And even if he does make a break, it won’t matter to me. I still remain full to capacity with all the coming and going like cavities. So, give me your tired, your rich and poor. No, I’m not America, just it’s addiction, mass incarceration with no rehabilitation. I was here before Jesus and the masses have tried me before they have tried religion. I go by many names, but you can call me prison. ■

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2018 edition of Stateville Speaks.