Paul F. McCann
POETRY OF A PRISONER
David closed his eyes every five minutes. Sleep never came easy.
He remembered the day he was captured and how hard he had tried not to remember the things he was told to forget.
Every now and then the guards outside his tiny cell would walk past and rattle the keys or torment him with their comments about being held prisoner.
Each day David had been there, the terrorists had tried to make a deal for his release and the bid in question was the release of some of their members from other prisons. As yet nothing had happened and the news reports on television had stated that the government would never negotiate with terrorists.
David gave up trying to close his eyes and sat up on the edge of his bed. He reached over and took a pen and paper from the top of his bedside cabinet and scribbled down some of his thoughts on the scraps of paper provided by his captors.
After a while he got to his feet and shuffled around the floor. Here and there he stopped to read some of the poetry he had written on the white washed concrete walls of his small cell.
As a prisoner made to stand and strip.
Never flinching from the strokes of their whip
Hands and feet tied.
Not permitted to sit.
Left in the sun like a pig on a spit
Tortured and humiliated a lot.
But a captured soldier is not forgot
On the minds of many, his name they speak.
He refused to drink, he refused to eat.
He writes poetry in the cell he’s in.
In the end he believes freedom will win.
His poems were stuck within his mind like concrete on the wall of his prison cell. He continued to read some of his poems to escape the emptiness of the enclosed source he was in. Another poem he had written was on the back of the door in the cell. He stopped and read that.
Locked up in an empty room a prisoner inside a shell
Prisoner of the shadows locked up inside a living hell.
The hungry churns around empty guts,
but no one hears that sound
Keys that jangle to break the silence with footsteps on the ground.
I know that somewhere,
Someone is dying,
Someone is crying,
Someone is denying to die.
Someone will keep on trying.
A plane overhead is flying by.
Hell is a lonely place.
Poetry on concrete walls is a prisoner’s saving grace.
In prisons some pass through others stay.
Dear God, what can we do?
Suddenly distracted by a rat that scurried across the floor David turned around to watch the rodent squeeze its way to the outside world through a small crack where the wall met the floor in the corner of the cell.
He returned back to his bed and once again lay down with thoughts running through the night in a collision course with the dawn.
Within the depths of his being he felt a hand resting on his head. Maybe it was a guardian angel by his bed but he knew he was not alone.
There was a glimmer of hope that shone in the darkness. A light had crept into the dark night of his soul and he could almost hear the sound of children laughing and the sound of cars horns in the city at night. Somewhere in his mind were the echoes from distant streets of his home town.
Within his prison cell they had hung a rope with a noose from the roof. It fell down before him every day like a daily execution.
David ignored the prison guards as they would come inside his cell in the dawn and rattle their keys like an alarm bell.
He sat up in his bed and said the same thing each morning, “Soon it will be over.”
One morning one of the guards smiled and David noticed teardrops in the eyes of his captor.
The guard quickly wiped away the tears and said, “Did you need anything this morning?”
The reply came, “Did you say something.”
“I just thought you might want a special breakfast this morning.”
David put on a brave face and said, “What for. Am I in training for the marathon? “
The guard said, “You’re not alone in this you know.”
David laughed. “Aw sure. So you’re going to be my new roommate then. Tell you what why
don’t you pull up a chair and we’ll share a few jokes.”
The guard replied, “Listen to me David. I am an undercover agent here to take you home.”
David knew by the look on his face he was serious.
I am one of a small group who have been sent here and in a few moments a lot is going to happen. Just stay close by my side let’s walk to freedom brother.
David looked up. “I hear you. Keep talking.”
“I have a mask I want you to wear. In a few minutes from now there will be a deadly gas released in this vicinity and we and a few with these masks will remain alive. . “
“Who are you?” David asked.
The guard handed a mask to David and whispered, “My name is John – quick put this on. Listen to me. We were given information from certain people about you and where you were being held. Once I was a prisoner here. I know what you have gone through. Now it’s over.”
Suddenly a series of loud bangs were heard and within seconds a cloud of thick smoke had engulfed the cell.
The next thing David was taken by the hand through from the cell and into a dense clouded corridor. A maze of passages weaved in and out of what was now an undercover fortress. Then David was taken through a door where a helicopter was waiting. The next thing he knew he was in the air with a small group of commandos.
After a little while everyone took off their masks and they all started to cheer – everyone except for David.
“Hey man, what’s the problem. Aren’t you glad to be out of that place?” one of the commandos asked.
“Sure. It’s just I never had time to bring my poems. They’re all written on the walls of the cell.”
Then everyone including David laughed so hard that the noise of it drowned out the sound of the choppers rotating blades.
After the rescue and return to freedom David was commissioned to write a book of poetry on his experience as a prisoner. He discovered when writing that some of the dark shadows that had been a companion in his cell were now his strength and power in the pen.
A large number of soldiers had put in an order for the book long before it was finished. After being published David found a new life as an author
In civilian life he met a girl and fell in love. After they were married and ten years had passed, David had been blessed with four children and he had written six books about his experience as a prisoner.
©Copyright June 4, 2008 by Paul F. McCann