enter the sally port at the bzzt of the current
Briefly releasing the iron that soon thuds shut
Everything goes into boxes for inspection,
Our bodies go into the metal detection box.
If it goes off, we go in again without shoes,
belts, or barrettes,
Really, really letting out hair down
The second bzzt lets us inside the razor-wire
We walk to the building to begin our passage.
Inside the first gate two women in a glass booth
Release the lock electrically.
We walk to the second gate that opens into a cage
we’re locked into
While the person in the glass booth counts
Before letting us out with what’s called
“the general population”
We parade half the circumference of this pentagon
To reach a locked door we get beyond
To arrive in the dining hall with its particular
Most like broccoli left in a microwave overnight
We reach the fifth locked gate and just after
The second locked door, which is locked like all
We unlock it and enter a hallway gray with smoke
From the men who stand with cigarettes in one
In the other, waves and salutes we return to them
In the haze lit up from the honeycomb
Of classroom doorways ajar, so open
We’re stunned into arrival as we cross
These thresholds into accounting, computing, and
*First published in Minnesota Review. 1995.
Diane Kendig has authored three chapbooks, most
recently Greatest Hits, 1978-2000 (Pudding House).
Her poetry and prose have appeared in over a hundred
journals, currently in the online journals Babel
Fruit, Poemeleon, and Umbrella, as well as anthologies
such as Letters to the World and Those Winter
Sundays: Female Academics and their Working-Class
Writing here in Thanalonline reflects her interest
in poetry workshops for the public, one of which
she facilitated for over 18 years in a medium
security prison, along with workshops in public
schools and a national park. A translator, she
was a Fulbright lecturer in translation for a
year in Nicaragua, where she has returned to conduct
workshops in prison and neighborhood centers.
She currently lives in Lynn, Massachusetts with
her partner of 22 years, Paul Beauvais. Her website