I ate fish and chips last night,
paid with my American Express.
I bought cotton balls and a 24 pack
of toilet paper, whipping cream
and spinach. The crumpled receipts
stuff my wallet on the top shelf
of locker # 17. I locked my sunglasses,
a bottle of water, my car keys
and cigarettes in this red box.
If I get thirsty on the other side
of these steel bars
I will swallow the praise in Amy’s ode
about her childhood on the farm,
and the water she scooped out of mud puddles
with a measuring cup when she was nine.
I will drink Dorothy’s sweat as she reads
a poem dedicated to her mother. I’ll press
my face against the cold cinderblocks if I get
desperate. The cold gritty cinders might taste
like sugar. I’ll wrap my fingers in Sierra’s
hope, untangle her hair, and wait with her
until the mailman delivers a batch of letters
soaked in cologne or pickle juice.
I’ll lick the guard’s upper lip and taste
madness from the inside. I’ll breathe
dust, and paint fumes, and shower mold,
and fill up on Lindsay’s time in the hole.
The key to locker # 17 is cold against my thigh
when I reach into my left pocket
as I leave the dry-mouthed prisoners
at 2 pm on a Wednesday in June.