The State’s First Co-Ed Prison

William Doreski

In the state’s first co-ed prison

we mingle with fellow inmates

in the Great Room. Wine and hors d’oeuvres

precede a dinner in honor

of the governor’s visit. Sent here

for picking your boyfriend’s pockets,

you retain that elevated smirk

you learned as a runway model

in your grim, attenuated youth.

Convicted of slandering realtors,

I look forward to the quiet

enforced by sleepy third-shift guards.

I didn’t expect to share prison,

let alone my cell, with you. The days

will stumble along as always

with quarrels over the merits

of Tolstoy, Mahler, Picasso,

Faulkner, Debussy, van Gogh.

The nights, however, will thicken

and pass as slowly as paint drying.

You insist on the top bunk

where your dreams of furtive glory

will form like soap bubbles and rise

to slick the green enameled ceiling.

You requested me as cellmate

because I’d never molest you

or allow in our cell anyone

likely to risk your vampire bite.

Women like you, if any

are like you, prefer to roost

high above the madding crowd,

even if that crowd consists

only of me. Here in the Great Room

a couple of the greasier males

approach, and one pinches you,

so I have to dump him in the punch.

The governor notes this and laughs

and offers you his fondest smile.

He knows we’re going to enjoy

his new prison. When you’re released

you’ll elope with him, leaving me

growling on the bottom bunk,

more a fetus than a beast.


Continue to “Mailing My Sins to China”

About the Work

William Doreski

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors.  His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge.  He won the 2010 Aesthetica poetry prize.

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