I was working overtime on the midnight shift at the county jail when I wrote this one. There was a man locked in his cell who was schizophrenic. He stayed that way twenty-three hours a day and it was my job to make sure he didn’t hang himself.
When’s my outdate?”
the man screams.
He lies in crisis
naked on a concrete floor,
the words “Nooooo! No, no, no, no. Nooooooo!”
escapes his Ted Kaczynski beard.
The radio crackles,
“Go ahead with your counts.”
“Count in K—King 5,L—Lincoln has 22. 433.”
433, being the officer’s badge number.
“That’s clear. K-King 5, L—Lincoln has 22.”
As the count is rattled off I hear,
“Have a happy, happy birthday,
because I can do this for years!
Paralysis from lights, swirling around
in my brain,
insuring you’ve actually
looked in the cell.
But who know what will happen
in the next 15 minutes?