The Lifer Who Dreams of his Child

Author | Martin Golan

In Rahway State Prison
the lifer stood
cursing and howling across the cell block
He’d served seven years and had eight more to go
with a life sentence waiting in Pennsylvania
All cause this woman tried to disrespect him
He showed the bastards, he kept repeating
This woman, see, she was whoring around
and shooting up smack in front of the kid
You fucking believe it?
So I beat up her dealer to an inch of his life
then drove to her place and strangled the bitch
What else could I do?
You blame me?
Seriously?
It was all for my girl, a baby back then
with this heavenly smile, this cute way of giggling
and babbling and cooing like what she was saying
was so damn important it just couldn’t wait

And now I’m inside and my little girl’s gone
You hear what I’m saying?
Not once does she visit
and whenever I call
She curses me out and slams down the phone

So listen, please listen, I have to tell you
How at night in my cell
when I finally sleep
I dream the same dream
That I’m moving, I’m flying
past the Meadowlands and the Pinelands
past the Stadium and the Shore
I see sky, I see people
I see rain, I see colors
I’m driving a Chevy
my little girl beside me
just cruising along
laughing and joking
every mile of the way
down the New Jersey Turnpike


About the Author | Martin Golan's poetry has appeared in many publications, including "Poet Lore," "The Pedestal. Magazine," and "The Dos Passos Review." He's also published a novel, "My Wife's Last Lover," and a collection of short stories, "Where Things Are When You Lose Them." In addition, he was associate editor of the poetry magazine Bitterroot for several years.

His book of poetry, "A Note of Consolation for Lucia Joyce," will be published early next year.