Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia by Leonard Kress

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia

The guards circulate among the prisoners
asking, who wants to sell a patch today? Meaning a
patch of skin—detached—to test the effect of toxins
on living flesh. There are takers, eager to escape
the crowd inside their 5 x 8 cell, selling what’s left
to the Penn professor, well-funded. I was here once,
waiting—my wife visiting her cousin from Poland,
sitting Poles say, for brawling at the Polish Eagles
Club, threatening to bomb the dance at Saint Adalbert’s,
shipped back to the village, a harmless drunk farmer with
a moped and Ursus tractor. The prison abuts
Pennypack Park and surely inmates thought of what kids,
did under the stone bridge, baring fresh unexcised flesh.


Leonard Kress has published poetry and fiction in Missouri Review,
Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard
Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex and Walk
Like Bo Diddley. Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems and his new
verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam
Mickiewicz were both published in 2018. Craniotomy Sestinas appeared
in 2021. He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio.

Leave a Reply