Grocery List from a DeSoto Jail

Felt like a field trip except for the manacles.
Fresh air out the car window.
Down a two lane highway
through countryside to courthouse.
Past corporate candy factory.
Is that chocolate in the wind?
He could’ve worked there instead of this.
After all these years.

Day two of the trial. Voir dire.
Picking off jurors as best as they can.
Attention wanders past faces in rows
same as it ever was, they will all go home

to locked doors and warm television sets
to stocked fridges and growing investments
to smiles and hugs or grimaces and yelling.
Either way, they would go home and he would not.

Attention wandered to things he’d forgot.
Being a kid wasn’t roses, more like strawberry bruises;
rotten fruit fallen from parents lost in their own bullshit.
Time pared down in classrooms almost as crowded as jail.

What was that note with the inky curves?
A paper in the distance fluttering by the fan.
Something his mother took along to the store
perhaps an apology or promise from dad.
To this day, he struggled to read.

Sugar
Flour
Peanut butter
Jam, peach
Baking soda

An end to roaches on the wall

Toothpaste
Hair gel
Condoms
Mouthwash
New comb

An end to abuse from the guards

Mouse traps
Fly strips
Dryer sheets
Laundry soap
Light bulbs

An end to snickers in the yard

Crackers
Bologna
American cheese
Pretzels
Pickles

An end to endless attorney fees

Grapes
Eggs
Milk
Tea
Honey

An end to hunger

Salami
Rolls
Gouda
Tomato
Coffee

An end to paranoia

Onions
Garlic
Tomato paste
Rice
Beer

An end to the nightmare

Canned soup
Canned ham
Canned cranberries
Canned olives
Canned pork and beans

An end to injustice

Chains
Darkness
Locks
Bars
Concrete

An end to world peace.
An end to world peace.

He’ll never see another grocery list again;
never see her words written
in pen.