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No Frills

Marilyn Buck


For Ida

the "rec" crew arrives on the yard
plastic trash bags under arms
Orders: clean the yard!

they advance like storm troopers
to round up the offenders
and rip every flower from its bed
         wind-ruffled carnations
         flagrant chrysanthemums
         red-dressed cannas

still-fragrant bodies are tossed
into plastic mass graves
to rot in the nonchalant sun
execution by ignorance

bees hover stunned
butterflies float lost
their colorful bistros razed
one yellow dahlia stands
witness to the massacre

raucous weeds poke faces toward the sun
stretch arms to occupy empty beds
razor wire stands guard

congress must be applauding1

This poem appeared in
Syracuse Peace Letters, March 1997
and Sojourner, May 1999

1 In 1994-1995, some in Congress had screamed that prisoners were too comfortable and initiated the Zimmer amendment to end all "frills." Though it was not passed, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has enacted most of its provisions with increased repressive measures.

Mariann Vizard visiting Marilyn