Four a.m. work duty and I begin
my solitary trudge from outer compound
to main building. A shivering guard,
chilled in his lonely outpost, strip searches
me until content that my inconsequential nudity.
poses no threat and then whispers
the secret code that allows me admittance
into the open quarter-mile walkway.

I chuff my way into another day
as ice glints on the razor wire
and the rifles note my numbed passage,
silent but for my huffs and scuffle
on the cracked, slippery sidewalk
A new moon, veiled in wispy fog
and beringed in glory, hangs over the prison,
its gaudy glow taunting the halogen spotlights.

The moon’s creamy pull upsets
some liquid equilibrium within me
and like tides, wolves and all manner
of madmen, I surrender disturbed by the certainty that under
the bony luminescence of a grinning moon
The lunar deliriums grip me
and I howl–once, then again, and
surely somewhere an unbound sleeper stirs,
penitence is dying a giddy death.

I shake myself sane
and as the echoes hang
in the frigid air I explain
to the wild-eyed guard that convicts,
like all animals under the leash,
must bay at the beauty beyond them.