Prison Impressions

A poem written around springtime 2016 at HMP Highpoint South that concerns the very current topic of windows in prison. I can only revel in the prophecies that are made within the text that are now being acted upon, some 3 years later.

Prison Impressions

Today the sky is crystal blue

Not a single cloud obscures the view

It’s cold – I tremble in this cell

Fresh air chosen instead of warmth

Looking out upon Unit Three

Across the yard, there is little to see


But that red-brick block of a hundred cells

Outside rubbish piles, and a prisoner yells

On top, a translucent, semi-cylinder

Housing fans and lights for the landing

Amazing the rubbish thrown through the vents

Beyond the barbs of that ten-metre fence


I face, each morning, those two forlorn floors

And one of the few external doors

The officers arrive by ones and twos

Passing the disgusting detritus

Later some prisoners may be selected

To remove the filth by others rejected


And tomorrow the garbage will be there again

And there the perpetrators will remain

There is little with which they may be threatened

As Unit Three is already their punishment

Thus the demoralised prison staff

Can only do their jobs by half


There is, of course, a reason why

No-one even wants to try

To resolve a problem that could be solved

By the installation of different windows

For even if the benefits outweigh the expense

This could be interpreted as recompense


So my punishment is partially to observe

This theatre of the great absurd

Fortunately there are some animal scavengers

Picking amongst the bags and sheets

That give relief to this vision of sadness

And deflect me from some prison madness