The Prisoners by Robert Hayden
Steel doors – guillotine gates –
of the doorless house closed massively.
We were locked in with loss.
Guards frisked us, marked our wrists,
then let us into the drab Rec Hall –
splotched green walls, high windows barred –
where the dispossessed awaited us.
Hands intimate with knife and pistol,
hands that had cruelly grasped and throttled
clasped ours in welcome. I sensed the plea
of men denied: Believe us human
like yourselves, who but for Grace ...
We shared reprieving Hidden Words
revealed by the Godlike imprisoned
One, whose crime was truth.
And I read poems I hoped were true.
It's like you been there, brother, been there,
the scarred young lifer said.