As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Jessica Helen Lopez – Poetry


When you teach @ a prison

You must carry all pre-screened

items in a clear plastic backpack

and/or clear plastic purse

and/or clear plastic tote bag.

Contents of your planned-out day

must be visible to the naked and

watchful eyes of correction officers.


The titles of all pre-approved books

must be disclosed and in plain view.

That and your corner-store aspirin

a wallet-sized tissue box, the cadmium

orange of prescription pill, your lunch –

tortillas round and brown speckled

like a dairy cow encased behind

the science fiction of clear plastic.


Note. Mechanical pencils are not allowed.

Inmates use only one issued yellow number #2

that they wear down to a knotted bone

less than a nub of blackened pink eraser.


When you teach @ a prison

you must declare all fruits,

vegetables and cellular instruments

at the penal gates between the

free living and the incarcerated living.


No shorts. Do not wear shorts.

Watch the cleavage lest your cleavage

be watched. No sandals. Do not wear sandals.

Mechanical pencils are not allowed.


When you teach @ a prison

you may speak of religion

but not too much religion.

You may speak of politics

but limit the politics.

Limit dogma, compliments and lined paper.

Tell your inmates/students they are doing

Great but not that great.


Too much of anything is contraband.


At anytime and without notice

there may be a shakedown, lockdown,

master manipulator afoot, an act of god,

a grain of sand-sized milagro, an impromptu

poem or fist fight, cat call, phone call

to public defender, theft, fire alarm, real

fire, a disassembling of the hierarchy. And teaching.

Mechanical pencils are not allowed.

Jessica Helen Lopez head shotJessica Helen Lopez is the current City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate.  She has been a member of the ABQ Slam Team five times and has been twice the Women of the World Albuquerque Poetry Champion.  She is founder of the collective for women and gender-identified women, La Palabra – The Word is a Woman.  Lopez is the author of the Zia Award receiving book, Always Messing With Them Boys (West End Press 2011) and the chapbook, Cunt. Bomb. (Swimming With Elephants Publication).  She is also serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for the upcoming national tournament Women of the World 2015 to be hosted in Albuquerque.  She is a mama, teacher, feminist XINGONA, and a wannabe gardener.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Countdown to Launch

Issue 3February 14, 2014
Online version of Issue 3 goes live!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 505 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: