A poem submitted to Free Verse by Horace Thomas at Salinas Valley State Prison, Soledad, CA 93960. You can find recordings of Thomas reading his work aloud through Prison Radio: https://www.prisonradio.org/media/audio/horace-thomas.

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Beyond these walls

all that I can see

is a ray of hope

they set me free…


That I can walk out the door

briskly down the street

my heart racing

not skipping a beat…


I can look up and smile

facing the sun

happy in the rain,

life has begun…


Inside these walls

life suddenly stops.

The sorrow and sadness—

your spirit drops…


The mind takes over

running like a reel

pushing you forward

so your fate won’t be sealed…