Gary K. Farlow was awarded an Honorable Mention in Poetry in the 2018 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. On September 13, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Break Out: Voices from the Inside.

Fragment of a Dream
A prison passage

Four layers of cement boxes
Stacked by the waters of a creek;
Each one filled with music

A stranger sits on my bunk,
Eating a box of tiny animals.
It is his room too.

Green beans and meatballs,
In steel boxes in hot water.
A pool of brown gravy!

I accept the filled plastic,
Slouching along the steel rails,
Collecting myself from the assortment.

I find myself in the Rec.,
Once again a disaster.
A cacophony of sounds.

The large orange ball,
Like a hurling meteor.
Gravity descending.

The plastic ball bounces,
Between wooden hands on the green table.
Someone is knocking!

A sharp diamond of light
In the middle of the dark glass.
Then, “The Cosby Show!”

Theo, are you crying?
There in the dark room in the box?
Theo, are we brothers?