In the bowels of Razor Rock Island,
the light is as artificial as the staff.
The blood as real as the despair
polluting damp, dark, stale air.
For twenty three hours a day,
steel reinforced concrete,
as dull as the daily broth,
fits the prisoner like a coffin.
Steele speaks
“The doom pervading this dungeon
is not mine.
The empire is a termite mound
and I am the King of the Echidnas.”
Sustenance delivery robot thirty six
is as unresponsive as a corpse.

Warden Jennings is sweating icicles.
Steele’s confidence is as disconcerting
as dying of thirst in a scorpion pit.
“In hacktivist heaven,
automating prison officers
is as unwise as long jumping ravines
in a blizzard” Steele bellows.
The first hint of rebellion
is crematorium advertisements
interrupting Jennings internet chess.
The second hint
is robots dragging him towards the furnace.
Steele strides through the gates,
flanked by android cheerleaders.
The rescue ship reaches Everest altitude,
before the chase begins.

Steele’s pen is as dry as a Martian river bed.
Beyond the realm of fiction,
nobody’s escaped from Razor Rock
since seventeen forty two.
A dolphin armada distracted the sharks,
as Jonah Wallace swam for the swamps.
Conditions have improved.
Rats snacking on the toes of sleeping prisoners
creates headlines now.

During his morning dance
Steele’s mind paints movies on the walls.
He struts through bejewelled corridors.
Waitresses blush as Steele banishes suits
with a click of his fingers
and redesigns lingerie with another.
Black lace, leopard print, purple velvet,
divine embroidery, transparent silk rainbows;
he dresses those dishes in whatever he wishes.
Steele’s vast array of mimed dials
transforms hair colours and styles.
Golden blonde Nordic Goddesses
are baffled by their momentary buzz cuts.
Mediterranean delights
with ringlets as black as moonless midnight,
are ambushed by mohawks.
Invisible hands ink decades of decadence
upon their plump thighs.
They wonder if God is an eighteen year old boy.

After epic minutes, Steele’s passion wanes.
He sinks to the bland, filthy concrete floor,
wondering if his mind can conjure more.
Waterboarding robots
believe passwords are stored in his mind.
Every number in his head
is as obsolete as videotape.
As their footsteps near, his mantras accelerate.
“Hell is temporary, hell is temporary,
truth is eternal, truth is eternal.”

2 thoughts on “Trapped

  1. A lot said in a few words. I liked “sustenance delivery robot”, “unresponsive as a corpse” and “despair polluting the air”. I won’t sympathise with him until I know what he’s done to be in there.

    1. One of the keywords for this poem is political prisoner so he probably shared facts that are detrimental to the empire or supported a cause that counteracts the harm done by the powers that be. This is hinted at when he describes the empire as a crumbling termite mound, which he presumably has his probing snout in, if he’s “the King of the Echidnas”. It is a work in progress though. When I started I only intended to write a haiku. After a while it evolved into science fiction and now I’m bringing it back to Earth by making the original story a story written by the actual prisoner.

      Even if the main character had committed a severe crime, would attempting to obliterate their sanity, through the absolute absence of human contact and unendurable facilities be a wise approach to reforming their behaviour or would it just create a case of post traumatic stress disorder that is as bad for society as it is for the prisoner if they’re ever released? Aren’t jails suppposed to be for keeping the community safe and rehabilitating criminals whenever possible, rather than destroying the remnants of already damaged people, like they often do. Only the callousness and sadism of the authorities could explain the harshness of the prison in this poem.

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