Born To Lose

I was sitting in this cell
and all these guys were tattooed
BORN TO LOSE
BORN TO DIE

all of them were able to roll a cigarette
with one hand

if I mentioned Wallace Stevens or
even Pablo Neruda to them
they’d think me crazy

I named my cellmates in my mind:
that one was Kafka
that one was Dostoevsky
that one was Blake
that one was Celine
and that one was
Mickey Spillane

I didn’t like Mickey Spillane

sure enough that night at   lights out
Mickey and I had   a fight over who got
top bunk

the way it ended neither of us got top bunk
we both got the hole

after I got out I made an appointment with the warden
I told him I was a writer
a sensitive and gifted soul
and I wanted to work in the library

he gave me two more days in the hole

when I got out I worked in the shoe factory

I work with Van Gogh, Schopenhauer, Dante, Robert Frost
and Karl Marx.

they put Spillane in license plates.