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Sig by Rain�torme

I'm writing a series of articles
About the Lifers' Group
In Rahway State Prison.
The men in my story were the stars
Of a television show called
"Scared Straight."
The president of the group
Invited me
To their Parental Awareness Program.
We were to meet
On a Monday night
In the prison auditorium.
"Bring friends," he said.
So I invited
Cousin Thelma.
Because I know Thelma
So well,
I said to her,
"Don't ask any questions,
Just listen."
"Of course,"
Said she,
"I'll be quiet."
I underestimated
My cousin.
Twenty of us,
Including Thelma,
Were greeted at the front door
By a guard,
And escorted
Through the locked doors
Of the jail
To the auditorium.
Thelma was nervous.
"I feel sick,"
She said.
We entered the auditorium
And were welcomed by
Ten Lifers.
The program began:
"Any questions?"
Asked Jim,
Their president.
Guess who raised her hand?
"You seem so intelligent,"
Said Thelma,
"Why did you do it?"
They told their stories
"Isn't he gorgeous?"
Said Thelma
In a stage whisper,
Pointing to Jim.
"Thelma, Shh!!!"
The Lifers spoke
About conditions in prison,
About the awful tasting food!
"My God,"
Said Thelma,
Had I known
I would have brought you
A pizza pie."
A woman spoke
Of a fund-raising dinner
To be given
In South Plainfield.
Thelma had a question:
"Are you guys invited?"
Said a Lifer,
"They won't let us out."
"Then I'm not going,"
Said she,
Time to say goodbye:
Thelma shook hands
With the guard.
"Thank you,"
She said,
"I had a wonderful time."
We left the building,
And walked through the parking lot.
As we got into my car,
Thelma said,
"That president
Is so adorable,
I wonder . . . "
I dropped Thelma off
At her car
And headed for home.

I understand
She cried
All through that night.

I wrote this in one of my notebooks in 1980.
Thelma died about ten years ago.
I still miss my sweet cousin.

**PRISON** Pictures, Images and Photos

prisoners Pictures, Images and Photos

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