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DEPRESSION INMATE


Depression inmate: the technical term
for a man arrested for committing
a crime of need.
Steal or starve.
The 1930s in America.

Johnny was a depression inmate
arrested for pilfering coal.
He packed a knapsack.
They came for him at midnight
while his chimney was stuttering smoke.

His wife killed herself for shame.
The six kids were sent
to an orphanage.
Upon release, he tracked them down
but they already had sufficient lives.

Fascism was making a comeback.
He took up a pitchfork
and pitched in.
No one was brave enough to smack a poor man down.
The jails of small towns were shamefully bare.


  Bill Yarrow