At first I’m hesitant to take the job
but it’s something different, it’s for pay,
and though to some it sounds odd
this might look good someday on a resume.
The state pen looks like a movie set:
the guard with his glare, gun, and gut
could have come from a central casting wet
dream, but no one hollers “Cut.”
The men file into the room and sit,
looking murderous; I start to worry
what if what they write is really shit?
Can my criticism trigger their fury?
I get them to write, each with a Magic Marker,
which squeaks so much it tears at my ear.
I ask the guard, ‘Can we get something quieter?’
“You can kill somebody with a pencil here.”
The first reader hides behind his papers.
He has “HATE” tattooed on his fingers
but words of love come from his tongue.
My education has begun.
~ Frank Higgins
Frank Higgins is both a playwright and poet. His play Black Pearl Sings has been one of the most produced in the country over the last few years. His books of poetry include Starting From Ellis Island, Bkmk Press. He teaches playwriting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Dan Bentley is a No-La/Kaw dwelling organic gardening seed saving bioregionalist who hails from western plains, writes, draws, paints, sings as spirit moves, laughs with wife, cats, friends, family, observing life cycle absurdity/profundity.