The Great Escape

A poem written by a person currently incarcerated in MN for JSTOR's Second Chance Essay Collection

The Great Escape

By Matthew Feeney

My facility proudly bans books                    anything they think may be "bad" or used to facilitate escape.

But they fallaciously include innocent books like Living Off the Grid                  all about solar, geothermal and wind power

I giggle imagining an escaped client                   running through the woods with a windmill strapped to his back

Books on wilderness survival skills are banned                         Jack can't teach us how to build a fire

Even certain National Geographics are prohibited                  we all know the joke - but they're serious here

Trying to remind us we're worthless             the "worst of the worst"

Keeping us passively caged                                      banning anything that might promote a better future

Books incite dreams and dreams are dangerous                                     slipping easily between the bars and escaping far, far away from here.

Editor's Note:

Matthew submitted several texts. I was impressed with the care and precision of each of Matthew's submissions. Each examines a different aspect of incarceration, and all of them deserve a wider audience. Later in the series, we will see his work again in the form of a glossary that will run alongside another text by a different author. I chose "The Great Escape" to be the inaugural piece since it roots us inside as we start this month-long journey together. He mentioned that he took college coursework via postal mail, and was able to complete four weeks of assignments in four days during COVID-19 lockdowns when he was in his cell for 23.5 hours every day. Currently, he is looking for a correspondence MFA program to continue his education.