Issue Thirty-One - Winter 2018

Prepaid Calls

By Sarah Jones

You have a prepaid call from AR4272,
a cattle-branded criminal in SLO, California;
a boy: sleepy grin, eating scrambled eggs at your mother’s table.

To accept this boy say or dial 5 now.
To be California, hold an ear tag applicator to his head.
You have a prepaid call from AR4272.

Your low account balance indicates your relationship
to an inmate who’s had a state-issued hot iron scald his forehead.
A boy: arm twisted, face pressed into your mother’s carpet, men laughing.

Billing rates for this call are ruler-swats to your wrists
and steel-toe bashes to the inmate’s head.
You have a prepaid call from AR4272.

This call between you and your Irish twin will be monitored & recorded.
Inside a Petri dish, your shit will be poked by some panopticonic bot.
A boy: hurled into a sliding glass door, bruises and endless tremors.

To refuse this boy, hang him up.
Stuff him into a box labeled—
you have a prepaid call from AR4272;
a brother: shirtless, sleepy grin, eating eggs with you.

Copyright 2018 Jones