Ghazal for Prison

Takia "Judah" Parham


prison makes you tired, in and of prison
you must stand and be accounted for in prison

a sanctified identity as a tool has been useful
required to be Paul for Peter in prison

they had rolled Takia around in the system
but I am called Judah in this prison

God’s praise brings jealousy if others are in prison
so praise God, I’m in no one’s prison

sun shines just outside the gates of prison
butterflies, too, get trapped in prison

flying the yard looking less like wings,
more like something imprisoned.

Colors shift in prison. Right is wrong in prison.
Light shifts in prison. You must stay to the left in prison.

Unless it’s right in prison, you have no rights in prison.
You’re all that’s left in prison. Left, right, left paramilitary prison.

Little boxes stacked in prison. Left prison, left, left, left prison.
Looked back for a friend or two, to get them too, out of prison.



Tour #1

Takia "Judah" Parham


It was losing mama that really
put the needle on the record of my blues.
Too soon for dervishes
of camel spiders to spin in my mind
the hard part hadn’t begun and I was already singing a dirge.
The color guard, too, sounded flat
as the grim reaper saluted
for the fifth time in my year
Of course by this time mama couldn’t hear it
and sis couldn’t buy the mixtape
if this experience was sold on the black market.
Stress reached its peak.
Red, white and blue bodies wrapped in sheets.
Dry sand tears on penny-bronze eyes.
The record skipped,
I saluted my mind
as it slowly marched away.



Phone Booths

Takia "Judah" Parham


I stared at tan walls for five minutes straight.
              Didn’t know what time it was
                          all but forgot about my personal itinerary.
Doors did not slide shut but the canary/mocha curtain was up.
Never heard keys jingling, they didn’t do rounds.
              The guitar I never make music on hung tentatively
                          by a screw I found in the gym
next to a broken bench, declining forever downward:
              my mouth in those five consecutive minutes.
I like kytes better than mail call, they say more,
              like whoever was thinking of me took a risk.
                          I’m just that special, a smuggling ticket
              written on carbon copy did not deter thoughts of me.
It was a cloudy day, no kytes
              but who was the bearer of bad news
                          that inspired my government identity to be called.
I should have kept staring at the walls. 



"I am Takia 'Judah' Parham, born and raised in Baltimore City, Maryland. A decorated U.S. Army Combat Veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 120 days after fighting for my country overseas I became incarcerated in New York states most notorious all-women's prison, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. I choose to write about the triumph of healing through the art of poetry."