Prisoner 1858, by Steven Croft

My feet sore, broken, face
pressed against cinder blocks,
cooler than our unwashed world
of bodies in the small jail cell.
Dragged back to interrogation,
hung by ankles from a dark ceiling,
leg irons are tentacles of pain
the guard strums with a stick,
Then beats me.  The outskirts
of the city are broken shells
of buildings.  I am told I am
responsible.  My companion,
Fear, a vertigo that leaves and
comes back until I can’t hear
the questions or count the strikes —
it is now that I dream an other
Self.  Asked to give the names
of others, I think human existence
is full of such traps, that this
is why I’m here, my name spoken
By another, hanging here, as
I lose sense of time and believe
I am him, but, instead, I say
the names of my family silently
To myself, careful never to release
this precious treasure to brutes
though pain boils in my brain while
tears fall from my eyes unbidden.
Instead, I go home and sit beside
them, share the morning meal,
reach for my wife, my daughter,
gently, unbidden.
Steven Croft is the author of two chapbooks, Coastal Scenes and Moment and Time.  He has recent poems in Politics/ Letters LiveSky Island Journal, and As It Ought to Be Magazine.

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