850 Bryant

Went to Jail today,
to get a rap sheet
through metal detectors
and elevators out of a 60’s Police Show
found the right room
down a long marbled hall
of plexi-glass windows
people shuttling in and out of doors
with numbers on them.

Memories float up from downstairs
of wood paneled courtrooms
where this future was decided
long ago
nerves balanced on folding wood seats
or worse
the holding cell out back
cement seat
cement walls
toilet paper roll for pillow
a slight softness
in a hard box
of back pain and hemorrhoids.

Orange sweats like every other
antsy desperate person
in this funky tight space
smells brown
like wet paper towels.
Wait for your name
eat lunch from a small cardboard box
dry bread a packet of mustard.

You waited and you waited
no make up or hair brush
a black plastic comb
raw porous you
under fluorescent
ill fitting orange always looks guilty
in front of the judge
un-cuffed for a minute
the public pretender plays the role
over your shoulder you sneak a look
at the wooden chairs
but see no one
there for you.

Back to the holding cell
the maze of granite behind chambers
echoing with keys and deputy’s black shoes.

A future doomed
to return here
some day
even if not in custody.

To go to a little window
on one of these floors
between the cells upstairs
and the courtrooms down
ask for printed numbers
on a page
case numbers
violation numbers
docket numbers
numbers that represent who you were
what you did
and what you are allowed to become
these numbers have followed
you through life.

Many times
you placed a thumb
rolled it
gave up another
then all of them
slowly rolling
giving up your magnificence
an art display you were born with
your very own map
of future
and past.

What You’ll Take

No longer hazy and dull
Sober and removed
from the mentality of the block
the clothes that I bought for you
the children I gave you back to
an electric toothbrush
a truck big enough to fit you,
your kids, and clothes
a 68 Mustang with gold wheels
to keep your street rep intact
and a wound for a heart
the scar you will carry
to the next woman
who loves you

Cassandra Dallett lives in Oakland, CA. She is Mama Cass to four kids and two Pit bulls. When not working as a Nurse Aid or cooking for her army, she writes poetry.

Cassandra has published in Hip Mama, The Chiron Review, Bleed Me A River, Ascent Aspirations, Criminal Class Review, Nibble, and The Milvia Street Journal among many others. Look for links on cassandradallett.com

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