Claustrophobia by LAURA WHITEHORN

Do not think of air--

air clean of smoke, and dirt, and

years of sour meals lingering,

of too many people in pain


and in frenzy.

And don’t think of sunshine in fresh air,

because as soon as you do,

your body stiffens,



yearns to become

the explosion you are accused of,

yearning to explode


so much inhumanity, the walls and bars,

leaving ruins

which would really be

tender shoots of growth,


people freed from these structures

of chains,

people smiling with life

and without irony.


D.C. Jail, 6/23/88

From “Hauling Up the Morning,” writings and art by political prisoners and prisoners of war in the United States (The Red Sea Press: $39.95, cloth; $15.95, paper; 408 pp.). The notes to this volume suggest that the editors have exercised some poetic licence in their use of the term “political prisoner.” Though some of the contributors may truly be prisoners of conscience, certain statements make it difficult to accept the writers as such (those making reference, for example, to “bank expropriation”). Yet the writings are direct and charged with an honest message of outrage at “the U.S. ruling class” and its “fiction of social peace.” The Land of Possibilities has excluded them, these poets say, and this injustice must stop. It may be that this volume is meant to compel the public’s attention where more violent methods have failed.