A poem written in 2016 at HMP Highpoint South. This was on Unit 6, a “Super Enhanced” wing where the conditions were disgusting but the regime was relatively “light touch”. That meant that we could spend some time outside in between work and the hours of darkness when I was able to see some wildlife.

The wagtails’ black tails wistfully wag
Their heads nod as their bodies bob
Beside the remains of a rubbish bag
Where crows have commenced their scavenging job
O, bring me birds that I might write
Of beings borne by feathered flight!
I hear bark of dogs beyond bark of trees
By bunny rabbits running fast
These sights and sounds that simply please
As parading pigeons troop tirelessly past
O, let my eyes all these beings see
That might imagine all men are free!
I see seagull white by sparkling starling
Blackbirds by the boundary fence
No sign of neighbours’ canines snarling
Here dogs’ roles are more intense
O, sniff for all things contraband
And calm those inmates out of hand!  
Later, lurking in the darkening hours
Cats and kittens come out to feed
Prized for their rodent killing powers
Prisoners provide for their every need
O, ask them not what was their crime
Just take what’s given at feeding time!
So we are all confined in the same compound
And, struggle, somehow, to survive
Some of our actions may well astound
But, still, some beings manage to thrive
O, birds, fly out through the holes in the net
Let the inmates remaining try to forget!

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