Welcome to the international showcase of writers from all walks of life! Today it’s my pleasure to present poetry by Dr. Thomas Davison. Thank you for sharing your work with us!
Dr. Davison is teaching at two all-male prison facilities in Northern Ohio. He has been deeply moved by his interactions with incarcerated students and has been motivated to create poems and short stories about these experiences. Thomas has started a non-profit dedicated to providing free one-on-one support services for felons. You can view more of his published work at: https://thomasdavisoncom.wordpress.com
TAKING A WALK IN MY YARD THIS MORNING:
The State prison culture is unique. The felons live by their own code and set of values. There is no better place to observe this – then in the prison Yard. The following poem Taking a Walk in My Yard This Morning best captures what it truly feels like – for me. The prison ‘pecking order’ is complex and fluid. As you probably can imagine – there are some very hard people on the inside. The prison Yard is an integral part of prison life. It is the place where reputations are made – and lost. It is where leaders are crowned – and dethroned. It is where all social activities have their origins – and their endings. This is where individuals and gangs have their battles – and wars. Trips to everything important in a felon’s life: visitation, mess hall, chapel, etc., all pass through the Yard.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY HOUSE:
Like most people I want to believe that I am a good judge of character. I have spent most of my adult life working with young men. In the US Army, with my son’s and grandson’s boy scout troops, with inner city college students, and with incarcerated felons. I also want to believe that I am a realist. There is no doubt that I am an optimist. I’m one of those folks who is always looking for that ‘silver lining’ in any situation. I have been accused of being a Pollyanna. That is not true. I see people for what they are – but – I also see people (especially my students) for their potential – of what they can become. The prison changes all men. For some this change is for the worse. Mental health is a huge challenge within the prisons. The following poem Just Another Day in My House – is my way of accepting that for some – there is not always potential – or a silver lining. For some there is only a slow sinking into the abysmal pit of: self-despair – anger – retribution – and ultimately madness. At the risk of being referred to as ‘Captain Obvious’ – prison has a dark-side.
The first thing that I ever wrote about the state prisons was the following poem called Hold On. The feelings and stress felt by the prisoners is apparent every moment of every day. Half of the prison staff and administration – that I work and talk with – on an almost daily basis – sincerely believe their role is to punish felons for their offenses to society. Whereas, the other half (just as sincerely) believe that it is their role to rehabilitate these offenders. I am reminded of a boat with rowers on both sides. One side is rowing in what they believe is the best direction for their ship. While the other side is rowing just as eagerly to a totally different direction. Result – the ship is going nowhere – it is in the middle of the ocean spinning in tight little circles. Unable to change course. We as an American Society must decide if prisons exist to rehabilitate or to punish. It can’t do both.
Previously published works:
Taking a Walk in My Yard This Morning – Teach. Write. A Writing Teachers’
Literary Journal Spring/Summer 2020.
Just Another Day in My House – Black Petals, Issue #91, Spring, 2020
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