Article 5: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
— oOo —
dedicated to Albert Woodfox, a member of the Black Panther movement
who, of 43 years in a Louisiana prison, has spent 40 in solitary confinement
for a murder he says he did not commit .
I wake to dismal morning light,
Reflected bars criss-cross my well-tramped floor.
The minutes, hours and years in this my home of forty years –
a blur. I have melted into time
Marked only by the daily penciled lines crossed through by sevens,
The unchanging minutiae of the blemishes on my walls
No longer seen – my inner blemishes of more concern.
I have no human contact. Twenty-three hours each day
I’m locked within a cube, six by nine by twelve to be exact.
One hour a day I soak in the seasons:
The sticky heat, the chill and rain
And try to remember when once I splashed in puddles
And threw a stick for eager mutt,
Or fanned myself on shady porch, while radio played
And children laughed.
I tramp and tramp, tick hours away,
Wait and dare to hope I’ll hear the clink of locks no more;
Then I will choose the time to sit in solitary silence,
My unbolted door a gateway to the living world.
Three times they said they’d let me go.
Unwilling to release my tortured soul,
Three times they blocked that road.
Is it revenge or a quota to be filled?
Unbroken here I lie in my small cell,
And wait and wait.
Is this God’s will?
By Gabrielle Blair