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Poem for My Eighth Year in Prison

by Michael Hogan

The even poverty of a bounded life . ..
—Paul Eluard

We name a thing and then we know it,
take possession and make it ours.
Poverty, I name you “freedom”
and I am free.
This cell in my eighth year I call “solitude”
and the darkness does not betray me.
The days I call “now”
and do not count them.
There is only one “now” not several.

My past binds the keepers more securely
than me.
It is, more than mine, their prison.
This life, which is neither mine nor theirs
but that of the world,
I call “a green and growing thing”
and the swallows come from miles around
to build their nests.


Michael Hogan “is confined in a maximum security cell block at the Arizona State Prison. His book, Letters for My Son, was just published by Unicorn Press.” (his quotes; 1976)

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