The Public Gaol

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All rights reserved-Chris Hancock

 

A hot, humid air sat of Williamsburg,
My daughter and I looked for the sheep
Hoping to break the rules
And get a touch of their nappy wool.

The texture, the oils,
It feels so nice,
But given the heat,
The sheep had taken a cool cover somewhere.

Our walk led us to the Gaol
Where no one stood guard,
So we figured it must be free
Looking to see prison condition ala 1700s.

I stepped into the cell,
The air even more still than outside,
The grain of the wood rough to the touch,
Unpleasant in its trendy architectural way.

A chain with cuffs was bolted into the wall,
A ring was similarly clad to the floor,
All to prevent debtors and criminals from escaping.
High tech cruelty for the time.

Standing in the box,
I felt the same oppressive weight
Of being in the freight cars within
The Holocaust Museum. Oppression feels the same everywhere.

In the courtyard, a family walked in,
I was struck by their vanilla
Wondering if they the felt the same as me,
A guy hating the injustice people put on each other.

Whether it’s criminals doing their thing
Or the authority that prosecutes them,
I left questioning why men and women
Persecute each other.

Is it insecurity,
Is it a failed gene,
Is an inability of evolution to keep up with social responsibility,
Or just good losing to evil all around?

We walked back into the June heat
A few minutes ahead of an afternoon thunderstorm,
And as we broke some law about beer consumption,
My mind jumped to the kids locked up in detention centers.

Glorified prisons,
Chain link on concrete in vacant Wal-Marts and such,
The heavy feelings returned to me
As the rain fell around us.

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