Today is World Poetry Day.

All year round we receive interesting, creative and funny poems written by and sent to us from people in prison overseas. On World Poetry Day we wanted to share some of them with you.



I performed surgery recently. It took ages, mostly because here in prison we don’t have access to all the proper instruments. But, in spite of that, I thought it went well.

For my operating table, I clipped my little LED booklight to a sturdy piece of an old cardboard box. I tried to maintain an aseptic environment by using boiled water and some bleach solution pilfered from the cell block supplies closet. To keep the mess to a minimum I laid out a stack of clean rags and a quiver of Q-tips.

When I had everything ready, I began: I placed my heart on top of the cardboard and secured it there with an assortment of pushpins, thumbtacks and rubber bands. Then I carefully cut it open with a pair of neon-pink childproof scissors with short, blunt-ended blades.

After a lot of poking and digging around in there, I finally found it: that tight little know of blackness that is – or was – my love for you.

The, with steady hands and dedicated diligence, I managed to excise and then pluck out the pernicious tissue with a paperclip twisted into the shape of a little hook.

That was over a week ago. I would’ve thought that, by now, my feelings for you would have faded. But I have to say that, well… I’m not sure the operation was completely successful.

I thought I got it all. I was sure I got it all. But maybe not.

- James, USA



Time has changed me,

Sitting in a penitentiary,

I’m still learning how to break free

Spiritually and mentally.

The system got me trap up,

Backed up against the wall,


I never said that,

My letters are being checked

So I never wrote that.

They call it post and phone control;

I call it ‘stalking’ with a drum roll.

I’m in a place where bad rain falls,

Full of cockroaches and jaws.

They say the night can only last for so long,

But every breath I take here is a breath wasted.

So, my friends, be strong.

- JH, Japan


A Naval Cat-astrophe

Some years ago I had a friend, a purring tabby cat.

In sunny spots she used to lounge, all sleepy, soft and fat.

But one grey day, she waddled off on furry padded feet,

And managed single-handedly to sink the British fleet!

‘How so?!’ is often asked by thos who hear the tale of that.

Who means to sink a Dreadnaught, by way of just a cat??

If truth be told, the ships dispatched weren’t really setting sail.

They sat as model likeness in one six-hundredth scale.

Each mounted in a harbour scene, identified by name.

No finer squad of fighting craft aspired to naval fame.

Warspite, Hood and Iron Duke, Ark Royal and the rest

Proudly perched atop their shelf, proclaiming Britain’s best.

But fate decreed that dreadful day the diorama’s edge,

Had shifted so to overhang the shelf’s supporting ledge.

And if a cat of sixteen pounds deposited its weight

Upon the model’s overhang, the chance of doom was great!

No feline knows of Murphy or surrenders to his laws…

But with a sudden massive CRASH, the ships succumbed to paws.

So, that was how a tubby cat with four misguided feet,

In one short leap, did devastate the Royal Navy’s fleet!

- Clive, Canada


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