Fifth Estate # 395, Winter 2016 - 50th Anniversary


One day in the prison yard, the resident grey cat chased heedlessly

A bird, who’d landed on the roof, all enclosed with steely swirls

And slipping through the curling razor wire, stalked

Until it caught her leg and stopping

Shaking as it sliced her paw. . .open. . .raw

The sharp barbs cutting fur and muscle, white and wounded to the bone

Blood dripping down the eves, yowling

And the bird forgotten, gone

Took so long a summer healing, that we wondered

If the fabled nine were used and done

But she survived and still sleeps the afternoon in sun, these days

Listening to the radio this morning in my cell,

ear to the wind and the wild world outside

All walls and razor wire, comes the rolling distant thunder

Of masses on the move, rivers of refugees

Each person fleeing worse and much worse behind them

Where everywhere is war

And those few wealthy nations, crossed arms close their gates

Spew tear gas and water cannons, raise up more walls

And I cannot help but wonder

As the thousands push their way through daily

Who will be cut, and who will bleed

And who will get away

To survive this and find the sun again

Somewhere, someday

—Marius Mason
Carswell Federal Prison, Fort Worth, Texas

Endless rage

I have needed my anger often enough. It saved me from rape, gave me that red roar of energy that sent me out of bad beds. Let me shed insults like a dog shaking off drops of rain.

But anger can poison with a slow leak into the blood. Anger can turn on the nearest, the weak, the ones who can’t retaliate. Fume against anyone whose likeness you can’t find in your mirror.

The unlike, those who have less and thus must be less and should be and have less and occupy less space and live less. Anger swells its tumor pressing on the brain; it wants to harden into a bullet.

We are a dangerous people who plunge into war after war, who hand out automatic weapons like tax rebates, who express shock when angry men do exactly what they want and kill and kill and kill.

—Marge Piercy

The Fit

One thing changes
with another. And
so on. The fit may

fail you. The world
falls down but
not all the way

—Rick London