Every morning I’m stealing moments
I don’t even want, just to take something back
from this place. Cinderblocks in a square,
heating unit rattling like an air show bomber,
overhead light strobing my very soul
into an epileptic fit; my guts hurt
the moment I get here.
I can’t believe the sun exists.
Plato had never contended with the reality
of his metaphor, a life where
going back to the cave meant
placing your body
in a rattling, flickering cinderblock box,
not seeing the actual sun
for months at a time; your body
on the fritz and nothing to do about it.
Everyone so desperately
needs you to believe
the lies they tell themselves to stay here.
Positive self-talk, self-care,
But isn’t this half-life of joy selfish?
Wouldn’t nothing be
essentially more neutral
than dwelling in these
cruel and unusual structures, these tiny
prisons that lead to ever-more
specific prisons, these landscapes of
human cages, in a land where your job can be to
put humans in cages? Respectfully,
tolerantly, with a nod to diversity,
leading each human to their individual cages.
Can I really drag anyone out of here when
I am the goddamn guard?
There’s no leaving the cave.
I slip extra rations to those
I think might have the courage to destroy it.
Like Plato, I am
not the one.