• C. Fausto Cabrera

Castles Made of Ash


Magnified moments in the Prison art room

make sense, they build a culture; free. Bars become

a texture of rust sung decay outside the windows.

Staplers aren't weapons, they simply bond paper.

A guy asks about the value scale; he straddles a fence.

I talk about differences of light and where we are.

His right eye squints, his head tilts— I move on.

Later, he's in the block staring at shadows seeing

blues and greens; saves black for the deepest corners.

On the yard he leans back crucified on the bleachers.

To some he seems the same; asleep. But I know,

what's behind those shades, what's behind the smirk,

what's behind. There's a place from the third floor

where the wall changes to a bottom edge of pastel paper

as the St. Croix river bank marks colors of the fall.

C. Fausto Cabrera is an emerging writer disenfranchised among the mass incarcerated seeking an avenue to be heard. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Colorado Review, American Literary Review, From the Inside Out: Letter's to Young Men Vol. 1, 2017 Poetry Behind the Walls, [Not] The End (TulipTree Publishing), and Words No Bar Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison (W. W. Norton & Company). He is the co-founder of The Stillwater Writers Collective in partnership with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW).