“The Catharsis of Song”

I start to hum.
A black tale
of
love found
and
love lost.
Slow.
Like a funeral dirge.

The inmates
in adjacent cells
join in.
Voices
up and down
the line
add
words and volume
to the
monotonous murmur.

Guards
halt their patrols
as jail-hardened
veterans
abandon
their tough facades
and allow themselves
to acknowledge their
loneliness
regrets
and lost dreams.

It is
a memorable moment
of peace
and conciliation
on Cell Block C.

The voices
of fifty
melancholy men
united
in song
cover the hum
of the battery-operated saw
I use
to cut a hole
in the wall
behind my bed.
The singing
tapers off
as I slip
into the opening.

I drop
to the catwalk
hidden
between prison walls
and softly hum
“swing low
sweet chariot
comin’
for
to carry me
home”
as I head
toward
the white light
of freedom.

(Written for dVerse Poetics: Black and White. June 9, 2015.)

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This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to “The Catharsis of Song”

  1. X says:

    Ha. Nice cover. I was enjoying hte moment of connectedness and how infectious the music can be, especially when each person taps into that place in their emotions. Of course that same connectness breaks down in light of our own needs, like breaking out. Ha.

  2. Grace says:

    I am happy to read that ending – from dark tale to the white light of freedom ~ Is this based on a true story?

    Thanks for the lovely share and wishing you Happy Wednesday ~

  3. billgncs says:

    This reminds me of the New York prison break… the song is such a contrast to what appears to be unfolding – nice VB – It also makes me think of Treebeard telling Gandalf in the LOTR series, “I would not cage any living thing…”

    • vbholmes says:

      The “Great Clinton Escape” was definitely the inspiration for this–I didn’t want to tag it as the music cover-up (as far as I know, anyway) is a product of my imagination. I got to wondering how they could use those tools without being detected and this was my solution.

  4. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Catchy, melancholy, morphing into dark humor; nice shake-up of the prompt, moving away from a literal response; catharsis, indeed.

  5. Mary says:

    Excellent – what a powerful and unique piece. From the black of prison & escaping into the light. I really like how you wove your words!

  6. White light of freedom ? Isn’t that the sign of life’s end moment? Death is freedom? I’d rather be here a few more years with democracy style freedom.

  7. Ah… how good to have inspiration directly in the news.. or from Shawshank Redemption. The inmates singing would be a great cover from the sound of the saw.

  8. lynn__ says:

    I like the contrast and the plot twist at the end…it got me!

  9. “I start to hum.
    A black tale”
    “The inmates
    in adjacent cells”
    “The voices
    of fifty
    melancholy men”
    “the battery-operated saw”
    “I drop
    to the catwalk
    hidden”

    Those are my favorites. (Also, you left the “l” out of “softly.”)

    I think this is an imagined escape, not a literal one. I think you’ve found love somehow, and you’re writing about penetration of another sort. ~But breaking walls down, nonetheless.

  10. Alpha Hierarchy.. cell block C..
    solid faces looking forward..
    no feeling
    displaying…
    Freedom..
    Emotion
    Expressing..
    Alpha comes
    Omega..
    Hero
    Lives
    A O A.. Again..:)

  11. This is awesome! My family and I did a tour of Alcatraz last summer, and I had visions of that place, the Cell Block C there, full of humming and singing inmates and guards. Very clever twist in the middle. Hopefully your escapee fares better than any who ever tried to escape Alcatraz. Peace, Linda

  12. thotpurge says:

    Wow.. interesting theme! Very vivid writing!

  13. kelvin s.m. says:

    This reminds me of the singing inmates in Cebu, Philippines. Their perfornance of MJ’s thriller went viral on youtube. Thanks for the poem!

    • vbholmes says:

      I watched the video and was surprised to read that the program has been criticized. Dancing is a wonderful way to exercise without the requisite tedium of a regular program–

  14. This is so clever, vb. I like the fact that you opened and closed with the black and white theme. Something about it made me want to hum along, too.

  15. What stands out to me is the contrast of a battery operated saw and the melancholy music. I almost expected loud rap music, but, then again how could that be cathartic.

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