NOTE: I've been reading Blood in the Water, by Heather Ann Thompson. It's about the Attica prison uprising. The book is well-researched and deeply moving. I wrote this poem as a response. sylviacavanaugh.com
A Prayer for the Prisoners of the Attica Uprising
Many believed the Governor
and those prison authorities
and media outlets
who claimed prisoners slashed
the throats of their hostages.
Hot blood spilled with cold steel.
But the prisoners were men
who worked to protect
their prison guard hostages
and shelter them from the cold.
These were long-term inmates who
organized medical services in Yard D,
who elected men from each block
to negotiate and represent them,
who devised a system for sharing
whatever little they had, like food,
water, clothing, blankets, literacy,
and the gift of golden oratory.
Men who gazed straight up to witness
endless sky for four days without bars.
The State shot those hostages
when Rockefeller’s troopers
stormed the prison.
Let us glory in and sing praises
for the humanity of prisoners.
Like indigo buntings,
those black birds of Spring,
who fasten the sky to their backs
and hoist it down to earth.
© 2018 Sylvia Cavanaugh
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