Friday, March 31, 2023

Life and What Drives Me by Spazzy Crafter

Two knit baby hats are on a transparent table. One is a blush pink and the other is blue with hints of purple.

I was born early one morning in late July in the southern part of Wisconsin. Mirroring my normal enthusiasm for life, I arrived twelve weeks too soon at two pounds and twelve ounces. The doctors didn’t give me a good prognosis; if I survived, I wouldn’t be able to chew gum or even swallow.

I spent the first month in the NICU. One of my parents stayed while the other was home with my older siblings. When I was finally released from the hospital, I weighed just barely over two pounds more than my starting weight. I wore Cabbage Patch doll clothes for the first six weeks of my life.

This year, I enter the period of life people affectionately call the “late thirties”. I survived beyond all obstacles.
I began loom knitting two years ago and had an idea: I'd donate preemie hats to local hospitals. It's my way of giving back and has helped me find a sense of purpose. It’s a way to keep the little ones warmer and more comfortable while surrounded by the bright lights and invasive tubes.

I have a whole bag of momentos from those early days, though I obviously can’t remember them. Someday, I hope my hats end up in other people’s bags and boxes of memories, and that they can hold them in their hands decades later.

Friday, March 17, 2023

The Price of Prisons for Profit by F.I. Goldhaber

First published on Tiny Tim Literary Review

You ignore millions of people of color incarcerated
for petty crimes -- some innocent -- imprisoned without hope, deprived
of contact with families, proper nutrition, medical aid.

You reject myriad mentally ill patients jailed without their
medications or psychiatric care, treated like animals
by sadistic guards who don't even allow them to know the time.

Left to psychologically rot in jail, often with no pillows
or blankets; bereft of in-person contact by monetary
setups that charge more than they can afford for video visits;

Denied access to life affirming hormones, always misgendered,
abused by both guards and fellow prisoners for daring to ask
for acceptance of identities outside binary genders;

Forced to work for pennies an hour manufacturing garments
furniture, electronics, and more, so corporations that pay
no taxes can claim their merchandise is made in America;

Caged for twenty-three hours a day, prevented from sleeping, hungry,
alone, required to pay hundreds to the governments trampling their
rights and destroying their health; these wretches escape your attention.

Until the trap of private*, pecuniary, prisons captures
someone you love, subjecting them to the tortures others endure
day in and day out across the U.S. from sea to shining sea.

Only then do you complain about corruption, assail abuse,
deride the debasement, impugn inequities and injustice,
and discover organizations that have fought this for decades.

You retain attorneys, pay for visits, purchase comfort from the
commissary. You advocate for reform, write letters to your
legislators, and sign online petitions to the president.

But those who do not have families with resources perish in
prison, expiring from exploitation, strangled by their sorrow,
succumbing to suicide, murdered via medical neglect.

Once the ordeal ends for your own victim of prisons for profit,
will you continue to campaign for those who have no such support?
Or will you forget that your loved one's journey is hardly unique?

Will you return to ignoring the relationships ravaged, the
communities crippled by losing those sucked into schemes designed
to dehumanize those who are minorities, moneyless, mad?
*Poet's Note: Although this poem refers to a specific individual's situation, the conditions described apply to all prisons (public and private) and many jails in the United States, an $11 billion industry which incarcerates more than 2 million people, many of whom have never been convicted of any crime.
Biography:  F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, 
and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul.
As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, plastic, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, broadsides, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. Left Fork press published What Color is Your Privilege? -- a collection of political statements in poetic form -- in September.