Seven Thousand Yesterdays

Robert Earl was 64 years old, whip thin and frail-looking, though he was still in pretty decent shape. He wasn’t stooped, but he had a weighed-down way of standing… More

A Day in the Life of a Prisoner

Everyone smoked in the old days, and convicts made picture frames and jewelry boxes out of woven cigarette packaging. People made cardboard shelves and curtains for their cells. It… More

The Target

Three days before Tuesday, I told him. He bought box cutters and ducktape. My father dropped his face into his Wilt Chamberlain hands. The items gave my story the… More

Bringer of Fire

“Bugs? You got me for fucking bugs?!” He savagely backhanded me and I fell to the floor, the taste of copper in my mouth. Standing over me he screamed… More

What She Knows

She gathers an empty bottle washed / ashore and tosses it far to sea. / It sinks, fills, becomes ocean, / I see through ages—it settles / by a… More

The Destitute

The / ceiling hovers like a heavy mist, / dark and putrid, thick and barbed, / chocking any head held high. More

Chessman’s Lunch

I poke at my salad, / sip water from a plastic cup / my corner fiefdom overrun now by strangers / a compromised rook / removed from the board More

Get the Free Speech News You Need

protesters in face masks carrying old Belarusian national flags

PEN America has a new weekly newsletter, PEN Points, bringing you a digest of the biggest free expression news of the week, plus the analysis and insights you trust from PEN America experts.