Brian Batchelor was awarded an Honorable Mention in Poetry in the 2017 Prison Writing Contest. Batchelor is currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility.

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.

Prison Proposal, Prison Wedding

The knee I’m supposed to be on
makes pulp of the air it jackhammers,
my hand gripping the receiver balmy,
pulse relentless as the stool under me.

Your expectant silence
throbs my ear

when your full name tumbles through miles
of phony line, its version of my voice

            We both know what’s next,
except we don’t.

There won’t be ceremonial white,
a red-cheeked niece
dumping fistfuls of petals,
our song making a fool
of my anxious feet…
we’ll sleep in separate beds after
a subdued officiate pronounces our union
then yawns a swift exit.

            But you’ll chant “husband” with your eyes,
            what once was contained
            within me venturing out
            to you in praise, saying:
            here is my hand.