The Pain of Prison Things

I wrote this poem some eight years ago regarding my personal struggles with disability and sexuality, among other things.  It remains near and dear to my heart for the torn hope it represents in the cycle of human potential.  Enjoy.

My breath flies, hot and pacy

Through widened nostrils

I’m stalking up and down my cage

My paws are growing thin

I have no use for claws

When there’s no flesh to overcome

And the deafening roar

I bellowed, once,

Returns unaccompanied.

I wonder of all the pride, why me?

Why the keepers made me live

Behind iron bars

And threw away the key?

Every day the people gather

They take photos with their eyes

I wonder what they see –

What they couldn’t just find in a magazine?

They don’t understand the pain of prison things

Don’t know the wonder of being free.

Six-by-ten doesn’t seem so wrong

Because they haven’t seen where I belong

In my mind, I’m crouching, low;

Twitching, hungry,

In the golden grass

Oh, to again have those kind of bars

The ones that sway

Like metronomes in the breeze

And I can come and go as I please

The sun riding warmly on my back

And I can change my spots

Without the dream-breaking crack

Of the lock being opened

And it’s dinner on a hook, again

What I take and do not earn

What I could do without

As I mill and yearn

For when paparazzi eyes

Are a thing of the past

And the Africa of my dreams

Is mine, again, at last.