#100peoplepoems part 37: “Mary”

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April 19, 2016 by Sez


Inspired by this impossibly brave woman

How do you survive

In a place of forced bargains? Of heads they win, tails you lose?

You strike what you can, pretend for a second

Some choice in the matter is yours

You’ll pay for safety from violence

With something.

You say to yourself you allowed

You’ll pay in installments.

They’ll come to collect

Every hour, every day

Don’t you fret

It’s better to be forced to pay 

Than to die of your debt.

How do you stay alive

In a space where you’re not 

Where the person they put behind bars

Isn’t you?

Well you’ve nowhere to go

So you walk in the skin of the man

You thought you had left long ago.

And his hair starts to grow

Through your face. And the pain

That used to be his begins throbbing again.

And they’re calling you all the old names.

But it’s better to hide, than to know

You’ll never be you again.

How do you escape

From a life where you’re barely alive

Where the penance for trying to survive

Is more torture, more violent crime? 

When each barbed wire fence that you climb, 

Each daring and dangerous break

Means it only gets worse the next time?

How do you rehabilitate 

When whatever your crime

In the end, a merciful sentence of death 

Which they dressed up as a choice

Is the only, the only release?


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