kenyans/Michelangelo

By Judith Goldman Judith Goldman
[imprisonment boom has developed] [a built-in growth dynamic] [the
number of prisoners continues to grow while crime drops] [and had
even prevented] [Crime never does stay down for long] [experts say]
[though crime has been declining for six years] [In 1996, the incarcera-
tion rate for black men was] [eight times the rate for white men]
[Crime never does stay down for long] [experts say] [a built-in growth
dynamic] [independent of crime] [Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals]
[and had even prevented] [Crime never does stay]

[recent radio interview] [sheriff] [declared proudly] [“sexually explic-
it”] [he has formed the first women’s chain gang] [in the world] [More
than two-thirds of the prisoners] [pre-trial defendants] [sheriff]
[defines “sexually explicit” as] [“personal photographs, drawings, mag-
azines, and pictorials that show frontal nudity”] [if that painting would
affect prison security] [the judge agreed] [allowing materials depicting
“frontal nudity” in the cells] [could lead to] [harassment of female
guards, creating a “hostile work environment”] [sheriff] [declared
proudly] [formed the first women’s chain gang] [on more than 500 talk
shows] [“sexually explicit”]

[Some expressed the opinion] [American marines and officials had done
too little] [to dig out] [victims from the rubble] [in the crucial early
hours of the disaster] [and had even prevented] [Some expressed the
opinion] [materials depicting frontal nudity] [could lead to unconstitu-
tional conditions] [including excessive use of force against inmates]
[deliberate indifferent to inmates’ serious medical needs] [creating a
“hostile work environment”] [those who died were] [all Tanzanians
employed by the embassy] [including excessive use of force against
inmates and deliberate indifference] [to dig out] [victims from the rub-
ble] [“environment”]

[materials depicting frontal nudity] [could lead to conflict among pris-
oners] [two inmates could get into a fight if the atheist said, “Look at
the size of the genitals on Jesus Christ”] [materials depicting nudity]
[are “reasonably likely” to be] [the cause of violence] [a Michelangelo
painting of a nude Christ] [an inmate] [was banned from having
Playboy delivered to his cell] [if that painting would affect a prison securi-
ty] [experts say] [“Look at the size of the”] [sheriff]

[relatives of victims expressed a quiet outrage] [“personal pho-
tographs”] [too little to help] [Kenyans were paying with their lives for
American foreign policy decisions] [a built-in growth dynamic]
[embassies will always be vulnerable] [searchng for survivors] [They
are not designed to be armed forts in hostile territory] [“We trained
cameras on the street”] [“suspicious vehicles were reported”] [The larg-
er the number of prisoners] [experts say] [the bigger the number of
people who will someday be released] [There were no American deaths
in the Tanzanian bombing, officials said]

[to help them extricate] [including excessive use of force] [several
Kenyan rescue workers complained] [American marines and other
American officials] [and had even prevented] [them from taking dead
Kenyans out of the embassy] [from searching for survivors there] [And
embassies will always be vulnerable] [“personal photographs, draw-
ings, magazines, and pictorials that show frontal nudity”] [are reason-
ably likely] [to be] [the cause of violence] [“If it’s a war between the
Americans and other people, they should take the war elsewhere”] [to
help them extricate people] [Many of the inmates are housed in tents]
[in hostile territory] [there were no American] [quiet outrage] [frontal
nudity]

[either because of their own criminal propensities or] [a Michelangelo
painting of a nude Christ] [in the crucial early hours of the disaster]
[rescue workers] [Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals] [“If it’s a war
between the Americans and other people”] [sheriff] [if that painting
would affect] [armed forts in hostile territory] [to help them extricate
people] [either because of their own criminal propensities or] [will
always be vulnerable] [Many relatives of the victims] [of racial dispari-
ty in the nation’s prisons] [materials depicting “frontal nudity” could
lead to conflicts among prisoners]

[though crime has been declining] [the incarceration rate for black men
was eight times the rate for white men] [either because of their own
criminal propensities or] [more than 500 talk shows] [Several Kenyan
rescue workers complained] [Crime never does stay down] [including
excessive use of force] [there are also sharp regional differences] [7 of
the 10 states] [being in the South] [the incarceration rate] [banned from
having Playboy] [“should take the war elsewhere”]

[harrassment of female guards] [unconstitutional conditions] [excessive
use of] [Drug Enforcement Administration] [drug crimes constituted
the biggest source of growth for female inmates] [statistical branch of
the Justice Department] [housed in tents] [materials depicting “frontal
nudity”] [a Michelangelo painting of a nude Christ] [drug crimes]
[deliberate indifference to medical needs] [if the atheist said] [“sexually
explicit”] [“personal photographs”] [recent radio interview] [“most
people who work in the prison business”] [“don’t look for drops in
crime”] [due process] [Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals]

[the larger the number of prisoners] [Several Kenyan rescue workers
complained] [dig out victims from the rubble] [“most people who
work in the prison business”] [independent of crime rate] [female
inmates] [depicting “frontal nudity”] [American foreign policy deci-
sions] [statistical branch of the Justice Department] [Playboy] [“should
take the war elsewhere”] [either because of their own criminal propen-
sities or] [American]

[black men] [will always be vulnerable] [because they are not
designed] [if a painting could affect] [being in the South]
[Michelangelo] [“We trained cameras”] [“personal photographs”]
[“suspicious vehicles”] [the judge agreed] [Playboy] [in his cell]
[female inmates] [“frontal nudity”] [female guards]

[in the crucial early hours of] [Playboy] [those who died were all] [the
cause of violence] [or their experience behind bars] [Drug Enforcement
Administration] [“most people who work in the prison business”]
[sheriff] [because they are not designed] [either because of] [the larger
the number of prisoners] [Crime never does] [show “frontal nudity”]
[the first women’s chain gang]

[Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals] [of racial disparity] [while crime
drops] [and had even prevented] [Christ] [the cause of violence]
[American marines and officials] [has helped reduce] [black men] [due
process] [rate for black men was] [stay down] [“Look at the size of
the”] [Drug Enforcement Administration] [number of prisoners]
[incarceration rate] [“If it’s a war”] [on the street] [get into a fight] [get
into a fight if the atheist said] [American marines and officials had done
too little to help] [Michelangelo]

Judith Goldman, “kenyans/Michelangelo” from Vocoder. Copyright © 2001 by Judith Goldman. Reprinted by permission of Roof Books.


Source: Vocoder (Roof Books, 2001)

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Poet Judith Goldman

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Prose Poem