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"Bones," a poem by Marilyn Buck


Clacking keys announce your presence
a stalker that needs no silence
your eyes sweep the hall
searching out encounters

my bones tell me who you are

your eyes sight in on me
you bark my name
an obscenity in your mouth
my eyes meet yours
you recoil ...
      too late

my bones unearth your history


you press against the corner
the hunter in his blind
your tongue cuts loose
                You speak Spanish, Buck!

an accusation
                I know what you're saying!
Ana Luz laughs: ¿Es ilegal hablar de la

                Ah, you speak Spanish, Mr. Kane.
                one woman wonders if you are Latino
                your black hair, your moustache ...

your eyes flash
an M-16 in shadowed forests
                No! No! No!
                I'm an American!
                But I've been there

Where, Mr. Kane?

compañeros bones murmur
from beneath tropical forest floors
                si, estaba aquí
                yes, he was here


you hunker in the darkened cell
rifling meager possessions
I stop in the door
you start
                Get out! No! Halt!
                Are those books yours?
                There's a map ...

I stand still
is this a trap?
                ... the island where I was
                Tiger Island, la isla de la tigre

bones clatter in my chest

                you said you were in traffic control
San Salvador? Honduras?
an island off El Salvador!
Hunter Kane steps from shadows
trophy in his grin
                yes, but not there
                advisor in the countryside
                you know ...

my bones snap
the sound of .223s slap flesh
"jungle" boots dance in blood

yes, I know
death stench settles on my bones
when you stride prison halls

but you do not know
my bones are not mine alone
we are wherever you are

not always prisoners


Winter 1997       © marilyn buck


Previous publication in BLU Magazine, v. 2, n. 7, 2000; Prosodia X, 2001,
Rescue the Word,
and the Prison Activist Resource Center
[access:< >]


Marilyn Buck is a poet, writer and US political prisoner. She was awarded the PEN American Prison Writing Poetry prize, 2001, and an honourable mention the same year for an essay. A Gerald and Maas request to video her reading her poems for the Red Cloth Series (chainlessway) 2009, was denied by the warden. "Bones" is posted with permission of Marilyn Buck. - jbg














gerald and maas
drawing by j.maas
19 december 2009