I used to be a Correctional Officer

Bushnell (Redneck Central)

 

Winter chaps lips—she tells me, “Merry Sadness!

James—you’re a cast-off pile of approaches, of words.

 

Maybe one day you’ll manage to stride S.C.I.—

A lost bore in libraries. Steal a book.”

 

I am, she said,

 

“The edged weapons that pierce, the bled-out epicures

Of savage heart, jealous of breasts that bud.”

 

So I take surroundings in,

Dark corners of dorm beds,

Mornings after nights spent alone.

 

Inhabited, the gloom here, it

 

Herds inmates to chow—pretends I’m hard,

Pretends I don’t know the makings of her.

(Which I do.)

 

A cynical outlook, I adopt,

A penchant for sad annotations:

Make no mistake, I give my all to her.

 

The real shape comes;

I make no promises—a blade from plastic,

A lit toothbrush splits skin—

 

You didn’t miss your mark—I bled where I stood,

And the inmates babbled; desultorily, while coughing cesspool, then,

Finger-painting a carol on a wall:

 

Merry Sadness.

 

James,

…Merry Fucking Sadness.

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