“Prisoner Earth,” “Suffocation” and “Melting Wax”

Issue 36 by Jennifer Schneider

“Prisoner Earth,” “Suffocation” and “Melting Wax”

Prisoner Earth

I served 20 years 4 months 3 days

for a theft I didn’t commit.

Solitary. Abuse. Neglect.

Suffering. Shame.

Victim of mistaken identity.

Suggestive questioning. Self-interest.

Gross negligence. Prosecutorial misconduct.

Today a free man.

Evidence before withheld

shared by freedom fighters

seeking justice.

Raised voices. Research. Fairness.

I return to a world unknown.

Gross negligence. Assault. Theft.

Plastics. Straws. Waste.

Misconduct. Everywhere.

Littered seas. Tainted waters.

Oil spills. Tangled bags. Dead Fish.

Victims of mistaken identity.

Depleted resources. Lost life.

Claimed with no rights of ownership.

Our Earth. Our waters.

Precious. Fragile. Fleeting.

Free. Only to serve a new sentence.

Time is ticking.

Our Earth is our prisoner.

Abuse, Neglect. Shame.

We will fight for you, Prisoner Earth.

Your freedom must be won.

Suffocation

Same time, same place.

A quick, hopeful glance.

Will today be different?

Approaching headlights.

Single rider whirls of electric blue.

Daily. Exhaust.

Moving on. They all do

Some move to the suburbs

for a better life.

Where’s the life? I wonder.

Disinterested faces.

Blind to the excess.

Blind to the waste.

I miss it all...

Raised voices. Impatient horns.

Shared stalls. Church bells.

Group recycling. Trash pick-ups.

Clock chimes. Chalked sidewalks.

Market smells. Flushed faces.

Debates. Protest walks.

Fighting back.

Nightfall lights and rush hour buses.

Netless rims. Late night laughter.

Public transport. Community gardens.

Paint-filled walls. Bike lanes. Responsible life.

Now, silence on what matters...

Hunger on our streets. Rising temperatures.

Politics in our schools. Kids behind bars.

Poison in fish bellies. Oil in water.

Poor pastures. Over-sized autos.

Ballooning houses.

The world is changing so quickly.

Finally, hope.

Tiny purple petals. Yellow. Peach.

Seeds sparking signs of new life.

Unsure where to grow, or how.

Stems reach up. They all do.

Planet Earth. Speak. Rise.

Tiny steps. Small change.

Suffocate no more.

Melting Wax

Blank canvas Earth.

A gift with no instructions.

Lacking color by number guidance.

No erasable ink.

We open our box of crayons.

No familiar colors.

Broken tips.

Melting wax.

Our Earth, in scribbles.

About the Author

Jennifer Schneider

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Recent work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.