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The Prisoners

 Steel doors – guillotine gates – 
of the doorless house closed massively.
We were locked in with loss.
Guards frisked us, marked our wrists, then let us into the drab Rec Hall – splotched green walls, high windows barred – where the dispossessed awaited us.
Hands intimate with knife and pistol, hands that had cruelly grasped and throttled clasped ours in welcome.
I sensed the plea of men denied: Believe us human like yourselves, who but for Grace .
We shared reprieving Hidden Words revealed by the Godlike imprisoned One, whose crime was truth.
And I read poems I hoped were true.
It's like you been there, brother, been there, the scarred young lifer said.

by Robert Hayden
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