Advice from a lifer by John Dowell

Been down eighteen years. Now, even my dreams are of
prison, he said with a laugh. Better cut ties, kid. Forget about
that girl. How she felt on your lap when she said she wished you
had time to go to her place for a siesta. Gotta give up that
craving, hunger for some new thing, some reason, new pleasure,
taste or crush. A thrill, a plane jump. Make her laugh—get that
returned look.

You’re out of the race, kid. Forget those fine legs and
round hips. Here, goals are hard to come by and most likely
unreachable. Pleasure comes in trace amounts or none at all.
Our accounts have been settled. Put your hope on a shelf.
Forget how it was to stay out all night, people laughing over
pancakes at 1 AM. Cabana music blasting out of truck windows.
Spin your girl around the fire; make that red skirt fly high.
Watch city lights blink out at dawn. Sometimes still, I wish I
had a gun in hand and went down blazing. I remember doin’
ninety on my bike through hot Nevada wastes, side wind so hard
I had to lean nearly flat to stay in lane. Just wanted to be circled
in nothing. As the sun blew down, I wound up the red hills and
waited with a brew for the stars to burst. Up there with no trace
of man, just partying hyenas over the ridge. About midnight,
stars hopped from Vega down to Lyra to the Ring Nebula,
50,000 light years away.

Now I have to redefine what life is, when my experiences
come from books and daydreams. I know some people say I
deserve this fate and I’m not saying I don’t deserve something.
But really. Don’t I deserve at least one chance? Put us in this
habitat for humanity. We’re spotted owls and compassion is our

Someone told me this compound is beautiful at night
from the air. All I know is those pretty lights block out all but
the brightest stars.

Learn to forget, kid. Learn to forget

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