John Corley was awarded an Honorable Mention in Poetry in the 2022 Prison Writing Contest.

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population.


The strokes chilled me in

the parish, now they’re staring me in the face.

I was nothing from no one other than space.

Prison doesn’t offer much space. I think of

home and want to cry but I won’t let that happen.

Lights out at eleven.

To finish reading this, as well as the works of all other contributors, purchase Variations on an Undisclosed Location: 2022 Prison Writing Awards Anthology here.