Shadows cross in a holding pattern.
A twisted flagpole chain sounds
an unsteady beating over a doorway.
Toilet odor and corridor ammonia-
Repeating footsteps, keys and a flashlight-
Buckets stuffed with mops and old socks-
Blankets wedged into corners-
Walls with banged in frustration holes-
The pantry and the freezer padlocked shut.
Stainless steel utensils
hung like mottos.
Andy beats his meat and smiles in his sleep.
Herbie hides under the covers,
Peeking out when he thinks something else might happen.
Ronnie’s got court in the morning
And he already knows what they’re gonna do.
Kelvin dreams about a street full of cars
that are all his
and women who fuck their asses off for him all day.
Michael grinds aspirin crumbs
into the spot where his tooth was
A cough bounces through the dormitory rooms.
When Jeffrey wakes up he wants to cry.
He doesn’t know why his Momma let them
put him here after he promised to go to school.
Alex says he don’t care if they ever let him go.
“Everybody gets screwed for laughs”
Is what he wrote in the bathroom stall.
Shower room echoes and AM chores-
Most guys wear bandanas on their heads.
The crazy cook is telling everybody about her problems
And they are laughing about how sore Herbie’s asshole
must be this morning and then Herbie smiles.
That was a mistake.
“You liked it didn’t you?” yells Kelvin
Pointing at Herbie’s smile.
Ronnie’s being real quiet and watching.
“Michael say he too sick to get up” reports Alex.
Most guys grumble that Michael’s a fake.
When everybody starts moving out to the van for school,
Ronnie watches them through the window
And then looks back at his TV cartoons.