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Winter/Spring 2017



By Emily Strauss


“When I began to understand who I was, I considered myself free.” – Albert Foxwood, kept in solitary for longer than any other prisoner in the country in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as “Angola”)


I was just out of school
he entered a solitary cell
six feet by nine feet
to sit for 44 silent years.

I grew up, married,
divorced, worked, retired,
gardened, hiked, cooked—
he sat.

Now gray and stooped
reformed by old age
he long ago forgot
the oranges of sunset

the smell of rain,
cows in a field, cries
of children, Louisiana
itself, its courtrooms

and bailiffs, his family
all dead. He sat and waited,
rarely talked, knees
stiffened now.

I never went South, their
summers wet green,
insects humming at dusk.
He missed all of it and

the internet, Michael Jackson,
Kuwait oil wells in flames.
He sat alone with his thoughts
and his god, forgot how time

is measured, the burning
inside stopped, the infinite
hours marked only by food
carts passing, handcuffed.

We forgot Angola, overgrown
with kudzu vines, moldering
around its final three inmates
lost in their solitary cells

under an invisible sky
holding an invisible moon
thinking and feeling long
sweated out of their skins.

Now he is released, not
freed, threatened by doors
lost in memories, interior
monologues, jangling keys

the wide sky frightening
blue, winged birds a surprise
a county road to a horizon
too far to grasp today.


[Check out Emily’s back porch wisdom here]

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