Sometimes The only Kind Of Poem…

that should be written
is a bad poem.

freedom 2

they like to
complete the paperwork
on the day previous to release
by the evening everything was in order
and ready for his discharge
just one final sleep
before freedom

he woke at
five am, with little to do
but wait in his cell until called
the ritual would not take long and he
would be walking into
my arms by
nine am

we would have
a wonderful first day
beginning with the best
breakfast in over fifteen months, and
then the day would progress
in whatever way he

at twenty
past eight I was
waiting outside, patiently
reading a book and checking the time
and reading some more, and
checking again, and
pacing around

at twenty
past nine I rang the
prison and asked what time
he would walk through the gate and
they took his name and said
it could be any time
before five

I had no
choice but to sit and
fret, though I knew something
was wrong. But the data protection
act means that they can’t
tell me what’s really
going on

at twenty
past ten I had an
idea and I rang back and
asked whether all of the prisoners
due for release had left. They
told me that that
was correct

the female
voice kindly suggested
I ring probation to find out
what was going on. I took her advice and
I rang probation and they
supplied the information
within a minute


They couldn’t tell me he wasn’t leaving, but they didn’t have to say that he may be released any time before 5pm. That’s bad enough, but I knew that Paul was unaware of the horrible, horrible error, or he’d have rung me to let me know. So, again I rang the prison, and I explained that he thought he was being released today. I asked if he could be gently informed, and was told that he would be bound to know by now, because he would have asked what the delay was. I said that if he knew, he would have rung me, but the only response I got was that he would have spoken to a warden if he had been concerned about the situation, and the warden would have explained.

Paul rang me at 12.15. He had only just learned that he wasn’t being released today. Naturally, he was very upset, but more worried about how I was feeling.

It doesn’t matter how I feel.

I will light candles for my son.

I will hold a vigil.

And soon he will be in my arms.


Breaking news

He rang me a minute ago, sounding cheerful.
in the background, friends called his name.
in prison they all rally around
when a mate feels low. it may not be Utopia
but there are worse places in the world
and worse people on our own home ground.

his pals laughed about the candles
but in the kindest way.

Paul and co. have repaired me.

© Jane Paterson Basil


23 thoughts on “Sometimes The only Kind Of Poem…

  1. Well that really sucks, but Paul’s response to your well-being made me get all teary. What a lovely thing for him to do to call you back with his friends in the background. Crap. It’s like getting a note from the bank at 5:05 on Friday saying they were evicting you on Saturday and you can’t get hold of anyone! How freakin’ frustrating!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so proud of him. I can’t begin to describe how different he has become since he went to prison. It works like that sometimes.
      He’s more worried about me than himself, and he’s the one locked up with nothing to do. I have found all sorts of ways of coping with stuff – I’ve had to.


    1. That’s so kind of you! He’s become a man since being imprisoned. I don’t know how I would have coped with an extra two days incarceration . At that age it would probably have been “Me, me, me”
      I’ve said it before, but I’m so proud.


    1. Thank you, and thanks for the comment on the header. I did it on ‘paint’, that free thing that everyone seems to have. It’s really limited, but fun to play with.
      You’ll find I use the word ‘fun’ a lot.


  2. Jane, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how that tore you apart, waiting all for nothing. Your poem is beautiful, heartbreaking.
    How wonderful he rang you like that – it’s so good to hear how he’s been supported in there, how he’s matured over these months. All we usually hear and see about prison leads us to think every institution is hell, people leaving incarceration more damaged than they went in.
    While I’m sure that can be true, this shows there are other sides to the story.
    I hope tomorrow is everything you hope for. i’m sure you’l both be nervous in light of what’s happened, but I do hope you have a warm, close and loving day tomorrow with your boy. x


    1. If something like this had happened to him eighteen months ago the reaction would have been very different.
      It is hell for some. The suicide rate is rising. Only about three weeks ago someone hanged himself. He bought a new outfit to wear for the occasion – I think privileged prisoners are allowed to where civvies. The prison Paul is in has the highest suicide rate in the country. I think it’s because it’s a remand prison. Although there are a few long-termers the majority go in awaiting trial, and they go back after sentencing, before being moved on. So they’re not accustomed to the system, and they’re frightened.
      Paul is lucky because he’s good at making friends. He has a wicked sense of humour, and he’s compassionate. When he rang me this morning he was feeling guilty about leaving tomorrow, because someone he knows has just been imprisoned for the first time, and he’s scared. He’d like to have more time to introduce him to people, and look after him.
      He hates a lot of aspects of prison life, but he says there are things – and people – he’ll miss.
      I’m confident we’ll have a lovely day together.
      Thank you for those kind wishes Lynn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It must have been so traumatic for you, knowing the statistics for the prison – thank goodness Paul’s had support while he’s been there. Being affable and likeable is a character trait that should never be down played in any part of life, but especially when you’re facing such tough times. Bless him for being so concerned and protective of the new lad – young men, so full of bravado can be transformed back to little boys by such it’s experiences. It must be terrifying. I hope you had a great day together today – and very many more to come x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The day didn’t pan out as expected – he’s on probation, andit had been understood that he’d come home for a week or so before moving into a halfway house in Exeter, but something went wrong with communications, and he was booked to move in there today.
          We were all disappointed, but by 6pm, when we left him, he was happy. he’ll be able to stay with us for one or two nights a week after he’s settled.
          To tell the truth, I think that the mix-up was planned. They probably thought he would be safer there than here, for several reasons.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m glad you spent some time together and Paul was happy enough in the end. Tough for you, though. There must be such a feeling of powerlessness, of the authorities controlling your family – frustrating and heartwrenching for you all. Let’s hope he settles in quickly, then you can have him with you for a couple of days a week. It hope things continue to improve for you – all the very best x

            Liked by 1 person

                1. If he hadn’t been found in time by someone responsible enough to administer CPR last night, and call an ambulance, he wouldn’t have had a future.
                  Somewhere in the sky there is a long list of ex-prisoners who weren’t that lucky on the day of their release.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. If I didn’t want you to ‘blather on’ I wouldn’t have responded.
                      Two of my chldren have been addicts for the past seven years. There’s little I haven’t seen. I rescusitated him myelf once, and was there as the paramedic was saying there was nothing more they could do, at which moment he leapt back to life, soraying blood all over the wall and carpet.
                      What I’m saying is, I’ve checked every coping strategy in the book, and found that the best one is to write a post about it and then distract myself with a daft piece of writing, or with messaging.
                      I can’t go to my friends around here because hearing the waffle makes it worse. I can’t go to my older daughters, although they would like me to, because they have been hurt enough. Blogging is a lifeline to me, and I can’t describe how much the support you give means to me.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. I’m sorry you have to find the coping strategies in the first place. All I can say is I will keep reading if you keep blogging and I guess it’s little comfort, but the work you produce is extraordinary – raw and stripped bare, but beautiful too. x

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Raw and stripped bare, but beautiful – on the contrary, those words are a great comfort. They tell me that I’m coming across in the way that I would wish
                      I’m honoured that you read and comment on my poetry and my life. x

                      Liked by 1 person

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