It's a flower garden on Death Row
A lamp for all
Grok: to know
The beast
Ninth Anniversary
On Ibrabim Balaban's Painting "The Prison Gates"

It's a flower garden on Death Row
By Bruce C. Jacobs # 000876

A stolen seed, lonely, planted in the blackest of dirt,
With no hope to grow, surrounded by weeds and crab-grass,
To choke off any signs of life,
Faced with nothing but bleak cold days every day,
With only a few glimpses of sunshine to give some strength,
The seed struggles to become.
But along comes a Li'l rain to shower down the seed.
Determination sets in.
On the brink of death, it refuses to wither away and die.
So it drinks a drink called life.
The other seeds have given up hope.
They refuse to taste the true giver of freedom,
They'd rather be eaten by crows,
Or choked by the thorny bushes,
Instead of planting some roots and thriving.
Now this one small, lonely seed has become,
The most breathtaking flower to behold.
It's beauty is beyond compare,
.I:\ll because it hungered to be alive,
To give pleasure with its fragrance,
And to add beauty and color to the world.
But only the most careful observer,
With a very keen eye can truly see,
This beautiful, rare and lovely flower, because this
garden is in a sewage dump called "Death Row"
And the Flower is growing within the soil of my heart.

A lamp for all
By Eugene Braxton # 999044

Let love be the lamp to guide your way
When all seems dark and gray;
Let love be the key to every door
Of peace and joy and light.
No gulf is too wide for love to span,
No wound too deep to heal;
No tear too wet to wipe away,
No heart too cold to feel.
Let love shine clear and bright!
True love is such a magic thing.
It gives us... Joy, happiness
And second sight.
A lamp for all

Grok: to know
By Karl Chamberlain # 999241

It is do easy to commit
Only a small bit of soul
To touch the edge with our wit
And never know the whole
It's so easy to run
So easy to hide
It's so easy to shun
So easy to divide
It's much harder to care
Nearly impossible to love
Few push comes to shove
yet, to feel someone else's tears
Falling from your eyes
To find a fault that endears
To wear no disguise
Therein lies the joy of life -
To know someone through their strife
Should you -that someone- fully embrace
Smiling back at you is God's shining face.

The beast
By Carl Buntion # 000993

When the enemy rears it's ugly head
You can't tell friend from foe
Tax-vampires bleed you till you're dead
Friendly fire killed more than one GI Joe.
Medical profession rapes you when you're sick
Politicians weave a web of deceit
Everything rises, including your temper
Road-Rage Warriors battle in the street.
Homeless war veterans picking up cans
Bullet proof classrooms, terrified kids
Drive by shootings and satan music
Bad cops and courts blow their lids.
So who is the real enemy here?
Am I Dr. Jeckyll as well as Mr. Hyde?
Have I raised my standard of living
Or simply, lowered my pride?
Will I turn against my brother
As the Good Book did foretell?
Can I spend my days in heaven
And still raise a little hell?
After all, I'm not the Shepherd
I just supply the fleece
In this land of milk and honey
Who am I to slay the beast?

Ninth Anniversary
By Nazim Hikmet, 20 January 1946
Bursa Prison, Turkey

One night of knee-deep snow my adventure started -
pulled from the supper table, thrown into a police car,
packed off on a train, and locked up in a room. Its ninth
year ended three days ago.
In the corridor a man on a stretcher is dying open-mouthed
on his back, the grief of long iron years in his face.
I think of isolation, sickening and total,
like that of the mad and the dead:
first, seventy-six days of a closed door's silent hostility,
then seven weeks in a ship's hold. Still, I wasn't defeated:
my head was a second person at my side.
I've forgotten most of their faces
-all I remember is a very long pointed nose-
yet how many times they lined up before me.
When my sentence was read, they had one worry:
to look imposing. They did not.
They looked more like things than people:
like wall clocks, stupid and arrogant,
and sad and pitiful like handcuffs, chains, etc.
A city without houses or streets.
Tons of hope, tons of grief
The distances microscopic.
Of the four-legged creatures, just cats.
I live in a world of forbidden things !
To smell your lover's cheek: forbidden.
To eat at the same table with your children: forbidden.
To talk with your brother or your mother
without a wire screen or a guard between you: forbidden.
To seal a letter you've written
or to get a letter still sealed: forbidden.
To turn off the light when you go to bed: forbidden.
To play backgammon: forbidden.
And not that it isn't forbidden,
but what you can hide in your heart and have in your hand
is to love, think, and understand.
In the corridor the man on the stretcher died.
They took him away.
Now no hope, no grief, no bread, no water, no freedom,
no prison, no wanting women, no guards, no bedbugs,
and no more cats to sit and stare at him.
That business is finished, over.
But mine goes on:
my head keeps loving, thinking, understanding,
my impotent rage goes on eating me,
and, since morning, my liver goes on aching.

On Ibrabim Balaban's Painting "The Prison Gates"
By Nazim Hikmet, 18 December 1949
Bursa Prison, Turkey

Six women wait outside the iron gates,
five sitting on the earth and one standing;

eight children wait outside the iron gates
-they clearly haven't learned to smile.

Six women wait outside the iron gates
with patient feet and grief-struck hands;

eight children wait outside the iron gates,
the swaddled infants all wide-eyed.

Six women wait outside the iron gates,
their hair well-hid;

eight children wait outside the iron gates
-one's clasped her hands.

A guard stands outside the iron gates,
neither friend nor foe, his watch long, the day hot

There is a mule outside the iron gates,
almost in tears.

There is a dog outside the iron gates
-yellow, with a black nose.

There are green peppers in wood baskets, onions
and garlic in saddlebags, sacks of coal.

Six women wait outside the iron gates, and inside
-well, there are five hundred men;

you aren't one of the six women,
but I am one of the five hundred men.