we were sitting on a concrete bench
opposite the courthouse
early spring sun warming the stones
there is only one way to survive prison
he said in the confiding way strangers do
half looking at me eyes slitted half looking away
oh yeah? I offered back half listening
you have to shut up & listen
watch closely everything that happens
take nothing from anyone
no gifts no favours no shit
don’t walk in all arrogant be hard as nails
keep your head down see how the land lies
before you make any moves
that sounds about six ways I offered gentle
wondering why he had chosen me
as confidant? fellow felon? easy prey?
he looked straight at me then hard
working to put serious into his wind battered face
fuck you son you’ll do just fine
& as he got up to go anyways what are you up for?
couple of unpaid traffic fines i said & you?
assault deadly weapon assault police officer by two
as he began laughing all the way to the courthouse door