Bet you thought there was no such thing
as too kind. I can’t write it into this poem
without admitting kindness is a synonym
for “too close” when its nectared syllables
sap these prison walls. O Kindness,

lotus flowering muddy waters, I can’t
call on your greening nature, your bloom
that fruits into song, into breath, in
a place rotting under unnatural light,

where a staff member who’s friendly
toward inmates is slurred a “murder groupie,”
asked if they’ve hugged their thug today,

where they are disciplined for embracing
the blues out of an inmate, compassioning the self
back into the self. I remember
when humanness lived inside
me like a community garden, every visitor
welcome & nourished in their coming & going,
all those bright hues—
but my body has become a border.

I’ve let knapweed root
& wrangle what no longer will grow.