Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Cherub of Pierzanie Prison

Pierzanie Prison, where I was sent, 
without dessert,
without ceremony,
and without remorse,
for 12 to 24,

was unique in that it had a resident cherub.
Well, fuck me.

We hags would crowd around the antiquated barred windows
for a look at the smug little bastard.
There he would sit, in the courtyard like a Canada goose,
preening,
his doughy index finger raised as if in divine pronouncement,

and then a moment later he'd be digging for gold
winking at us nags and scolds.

Pretty Sarah,
her long black hair carefully braided every morning,
smiling blameless and pure as a saint,
with a kind word for everyone,
drowned the hell out of two just like you, Cherub.
She held their little heads under
as the minutes ticked by.

At Pierzanie, I wished every morning for an ice storm,
so that you would slip and come sliding to us.
The warden's darling you were,
allowed to taunt us and to crap in the flower beds.
You got inside our heads--
half of us wanting to cradle and lull you with melodies

and the other half dreaming of your empty fragile skull
and a thousand ways to stave it in.

I'm free now,
driving a little crap-ass car to a straight job every day.
The smoke from the factory stacks rises into the stagnant sky
and reminds me of Sarah's hair.
The windshield does my crying for me,
the wiper arms furiously sweeping the tears aside.

One morning I stop at a church,
to pray that Sarah's parole board might be composed of idiots
and lunatics.
Set her free, I beg. 
Set her free to come home to me.
The priest sees my shoulders shaking and he touches me,
saying "dear child, dear child..."

When the hysteria hits and I start to laugh,
he jerks his hand away as if he'd been electrocuted.
I hurry out, half-blind,
out of my mind,
and the baby Jesuses in the stained glass look just like
the cherub of Pierzanie Prison,

except without the deliberate dare in the eyes,
and somehow forgiving, even to us.
________

for Play it Again Toads. Top photograph by Isadora Gruye.

"pierzanie" is Romanian for perdition, undoing, loss. 



20 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

I always love your cat lick girl poems.. and this is dark but with an edge of brightness in the description of the relationship forged in the most unlikely of places.

Susan said...

I've always thought that putti, cherub and amorini shared flirty sneers ... at least in plaster castings. Lost boys, they cannot grow up. I don't know what to make of the incarcerated women except I'm happy to see them loved, wanted and forgiven.

Isadora Gruye said...

oh cooks....where to start with this one? I foremost love how you subtly expanded the scope of this: starting first with your focus on the cherub, then Sarah, then the narrator, and then the kinship of Sarah and the Narrator. You had a mighty big canvas to fill, and filled it brilliantly you did!

I love the concept of the cocky little cherub, what an ass. As always, there are lines of awesomeness, such as the cherub preening himself like a canadian goose, and I really liked how he would hold one finger up in pronouncement then pick his nose.

Also, the beginning lines of being sent to prison "without dessert"...that line is a good example of how you bring your narrator to life with such a simple. I am in awe. Viva la!!!!!

Isadora Gruye said...

oh cooks....where to start with this one? I foremost love how you subtly expanded the scope of this: starting first with your focus on the cherub, then Sarah, then the narrator, and then the kinship of Sarah and the Narrator. You had a mighty big canvas to fill, and filled it brilliantly you did!

I love the concept of the cocky little cherub, what an ass. As always, there are lines of awesomeness, such as the cherub preening himself like a canadian goose, and I really liked how he would hold one finger up in pronouncement then pick his nose.

Also, the beginning lines of being sent to prison "without dessert"...that line is a good example of how you bring your narrator to life with such a simple. I am in awe. Viva la!!!!!

Ella said...

I love the Canadian goose reference and your windshield crying for you~
Wow-I kept thinking of Orange is the New Black- season 2. My family keeps telling me I need to catch up~ The fragments of your visual filter pounce-I love all you offer us to ponder~ ;D So fun we picked the same prompt and photo~ Tonight we both will be checking out the moon at the same time~ tee,hee

TexWisGirl said...

i just came from a blog that referenced orange is the new black (which i've not ever watched) so couldn't help but think of that show, also, while reading this.

hedgewitch said...

This has as many turns a a corkscrew, pulling out the stops and pouring that sacrament with abandon. I don't know how you manage to get your irreverent cynicism in check long enough to evoke images of incomparable tenderness and sweetness, of true faith, even, or how you can find terror and evil in blandness, smugness, stereotype as eloquently as you do here, but it's enough to make all the Baby Jeebuses weep ice-cubes, and me to pull out my few remaining hairs.

Arushi Ahuja said...

This is beautiful... the windsheild crying for you.. what a beautiful expression!!

Sioux said...

"digging for gold."

Ha! ;)

Hannah said...

You develop your characters, scene and plot effortlessly, it seems. I enjoy seeing where these kinds of poems will lead...reminds me of one of the first of yours that I ever read...about a girl and a melon, her mom, at a grocery store...I think that was you...

Any way.

Great work!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Ha ha, the Canada goose - thanks for the nod! LOL. Sad the straight job, crap-ass car and memories of Sarah, while "the windshield does my crying for me." Wowzers!

Sumana Roy said...

the suffering, "The windshield does my crying for me," and the forgiving look of the baby Jesuses in the stained glass gives this beautiful poem a wholeness...

Björn Rudberg said...

What a story.. So much told, yet so much untold. The real chill Ong way you told of Sarah and what she did..

Susie Clevenger said...

How creative to have an angle taunting those captured behind bars..love the Canadian goose reference. There is so much pain in this, darkness, yet the ending brings a sliver of light, hope. Life often isn't pretty and you have a talent to write its raw edges with such style.

Jim said...

Shay, so nice, intriguing to read. Will there be a release? Well, I think there was one.

It reminded me of some of the ballad type songs of the 70's and early 80's. Most closely perhaps to "Hotel California" with a theme closer to the play and/or movie, "Chicago", in the women's prison (only much, much stronger--I love your writings of the Hags).
..

Jim said...

Forgot to praise the ironic Cherub there at Hell's place. I smile.
..

Mama Zen said...

Damn, Shay, this is SO GOOD. I'm running out of room in my favorite file.

Shadow said...

What a delight to read!

K9friend said...

I love the final lines with the hint of redemption. Lovely!

Pat
Critter Alley

myheartslovesongs.com said...

i just got done binge-watching two or three seasons of "Orange Is The New Black" ~ i love it, but i love your writing more!

"and the other half dreaming of your empty fragile skull and a thousand ways to stave it in."

fucking brilliant!