A Man's Share of the Sky

I was betrayed by an underhand agent,
who was out to incarcerate my spirit,
thinking that because the body is frail,
human feeling and purpose could be destroyed.

I was caged up in this place of stone
and steel, gunshots, ferocious guards;
cut off from the normal world,
who counted me dead, though I still lived and

At my eye’s farthest reach, through that narrow
shines my share of the sky, full of tears--
meagre solace for an injured heart,
sorry banner for a man torn up by the roots.

The guard’s look is as sharp as the lightning’s edge;
no one but him comes near the padlocked door;
the cry of a prisoner in a nearby cell,
sounds like an animal howling in a cave.

Daylight is a chain dragged by bloody feet,
night is a funeral shroud,
a coffin readied for a convict’s grave;
the agent’s claws are still felt, day and night.

Sometimes one hears the thud of footsteps,
the sound of rattling, clanking chains;
A thousand shadows are flung against the sun,
A thousand phantoms thrown out from the gloom.

Sometimes the night is shocked awake
by a siren’s scream—an escape!
Blast of gunfire; sometimes a creaking bell
whimpers at the gallows: Someone’s being hung.

This is my world now, it belongs to me,
this prison that is the graveyard of the living,
ten, twenty, how many years? All the years
of my life will be buried here.

But the mind fears no pain,
the heart, still steadfast, beats.
Being jailed is a part of the fight;
this kind of bondage only toughens resistance.

Neither God nor man sleeps forever, the humiliated
are not humiliated forever;
every tyrant has his day of judgment,
every Bastille has its day of vengeance.
And from here I glimpse tomorrow,
in that narrow span of sky wiped clean of tears,
foresee the rays of victory’s golden dawn,
when, freed, I shall salute you, freedom.