No Chapstick for the Guilty

There is no chapstick in prison.

I am reminded of this
As I stare down at your still mouth,
Cold and pale
Under the harsh yellow light of the funeral home.
They are ragged, your lips;
They have lacked the necessary moisture;
They have been licked to a noiseless death.

It seems cruel, I think,
To deprive the common criminal
Of such a small delicacy
As soft, supple lips.
What does the state gain
By depriving the common criminal
Of chapstick? Is chapstick
A menace, a culprit, a helper
In the crimes of the common criminal?

Your hands are rough, too.
No lotion, either, I suppose.
Nothing to make you seem human
In that absolutely American way—
No lotion, and no chapstick for you
Where we so prize our smooth hands
(the best for touching and preaching)
And our smooth lips
(the best for kissing or breathing).

I bite my bottom lip and wring my hands
As I stare down at you, cold in your casket,
A prison where there is
No chapstick and
No lotion.
It seems cruel, I think, to deprive you
Of something so absolutely American.
What does death gain
By depriving the common man
Of chapstick?

19 April 2008


[hannah]* said...

I am constantly amazed at your poetry. Dang.

Jef Peeples said...

Ok. Send this one to subtletea. NOW.