and Ronnie says Robert Hayden got it right, a whipping be like that — “the face that I no longer knew or loved” — damn, that’s it, right there and Ronnie doesn’t blame his mama for beating him so bad, but maybe she could have kept her pipe in the car and then maybe he never would have ended up in a foster home and maybe if he hadn’t been such a pissed-off little shit-ass runt, maybe they would have put him in a house with a mama who liked kids and maybe then his foster dad wouldn’t have put his hands on him and made him run and Dwayne doesn’t care what anyone thinks Maya Angelou is the world’s best poet — yeah, I said world — and “you may kill me with your hatefulness” ought to be the slogan for every CO in this shithole, but still like air Dwayne’s gonna rise, he’s just praying his mama don’t die before he gets out and he still thinks if he would have gone to his brother’s funeral when he was nine, then maybe he wouldn’t have started crawling out the window at night looking for him and maybe this is nuts, but for the life of him Dwayne cannot remember anyone telling him that Scotty died, but they must have, right? and Julio thinks Pablo Neruda’s got it wrong just because your wife forgets you just because she writes, You know I can’t be alone just because she sends your letters back — return to sender? what the fuck? — just because another man’s sleeping in your goddamn bed don’t mean you forget her “I shall stop loving you little by little,” too? I’m telling you straight, it don’t work like that and RJ’s new and he doesn’t want to read anything, but can he just say something? He sold drugs. He regrets it. He has accepted the Lord as his Almighty Savior. He regrets it, OK? OK. Thank you. Marco tells him son, this here’s a poetry class and RJ says, well, shit, I thought it was that accountability class we get credit for and we laugh and laugh and RJ says he likes what we’re doing over here better than that chapel with all them white women, no offense, and their Bibles and gold crosses and, Jesus, the men are even worse, the way they look at you like a bill they gotta pay, but these are the only two damn places with air-conditioning and we all agree it’s hotter than shit, and animals in a goddamn pound are treated better and then I read Tim Seibles’s “First Kiss” and the men place the words of his poem on their tongues like Communion and we are all fifteen again, holy and hungry, standing under a porch light while the earth splits beneath our feet and we don’t move or speak because Tim’s words are still alive in the space between us and beauty crumbles when you try to catch it — we all know that — so we let it settle on our skin and hold our breath until Marco says, like a prayer, It be like that. It be just like that.