jailhouse beautiful

Squeeze the bologna
between your fingers–
sieve it,
and collect the pulp
of coalesced
Rub it onto your dryness.
Smear it on your face
so you will not wrinkle
on these long cold nights
in jail.

you might go home.
you might get out.

You’ll need your beauty then.

Your man cannot hear you
over the grooves
of your face.

Take your instant coffee,
and blend it
into grease.
Your skin needs color.
The right kind of color.
The light kind of color.

Take your kool-aid
and mix it
with vaseline.
Your lips need color.
The sexy kind of color.

Twist the toilet paper
between your fingers,
and tie it into your hair.

Give yourself curls,
curls as wide as the cuffs
cutting into your wrists.

Take a pencil and scratch it
into your brick cell walls
until your fingertips
can lift the smudges
and outline your eyes.

People will not trust your eyes
if you cannot make a show
of your blinks.

People will not see your tears
if they don’t streak their way
over flawless skin
and wet your pouty
red lips.

Pull the stitches from your pants,
one by one,
so you don’t ruin the thread.
Trade the food your thighs do not need
to someone who can loop the string,
pulling it against your skin,
until your eyebrows are perfect.

It will make your face
a shape your loves can recognize,
a shape they might
miss holding.

It might help them remember you,
and they need to remember you,
because tomorrow,
you might get out.
And the only you
they know
is the one in the mask
you made
for them.

you might go home,
so wash your hands
with the same soap
that pulls sharpie from the wall
and paint from your bunk,
because the last thing you’d want
is to smell
like the bologna
you’ve let soak
into your skin.


♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

Ra Avis is the author of Sack Nasty: Prison Poetry and the girl behind the dinosaur at Rarasaur.com. She is a once-upon-a-time inmate, a reluctantly-optimistic widow, and an exponential storyteller.

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18 thoughts on “jailhouse beautiful

    1. Also, yes, it makes me sad too, when I think of it. And it’s something I think about a lot. I mean, I did many of these things too– mostly because I was in want of something to do and because it gave ritual to a day, and because I had never experienced those things before. But the motivation for maintaining arbitrary beauty standards in a place where they matter even less than they do out here… well, I don’t know. My brain still hasn’t figured out what it thinks about that.

      Liked by 6 people

  1. It occurred to me after reading this one that, everything you write… EVERYthing… brings sadness to me, even the happy and the funny stuff. Maybe, and you know this, I’m just wired this way. But if it IS my wiring, then there isn’t a damn thing that’s gonna change that. So just keep writing, okay?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You put your words together in such a beautiful way, even with it is painful. Sending you love and peace and hugs and happy funny thoughts (like today when puppy at the art gallery peed on my shoe because he was so happy to see me.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rara! Wonderful and powerful as usual! I have always loved your posts through all of your ups and downs. I have been away for a while, but back again. Looking forward to reading ALL of your posts. I was sorry to hear about your beloved. Hugs to you. 💜

    Liked by 1 person


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