Slower by Paul Tristram

There were three of us in a four man Dorm,
they brought a new timer in.
We were all alright, he’d got lucky.
We just carried on with our conversation,
when the Screw had locked the door,
and let him settle on in.
We’d gauged and judged him within the first few minutes,
there was going to be no problems,
unless he was a ‘Grass’, time would tell,
until then he’d only see slight things.
He seemed quiet enough, and didn’t blag straight off the bat,
but knew what was ‘His’ and how to say ‘No’, I liked that.
Straight after Association that evening,
once we’d finished shaking hands with Landing Dealers,
and got yelled at “Fucking Lock-Up Now!”
a few times by irate Officers awaiting their shift-change.
I strolled past his bunk, and saw him sat there
scrawling a prison calendar mark
upon the back of a ‘Dads Behind Bars’ leaflet.
“Throw that in the bin.”
He just looked at me, questioningly.
“Trust me, it’ll only do your fucking head-in.
It slows down time, keeps you focused upon each day…
and you don’t need that, especially in the beginning or middle.
You need to just ‘Be’ for now.”
“But I thought that’s what everybody did?
You see it in the movies and read about it in books.
They scratch marks into the walls.”
“This isn’t a film, or a novel (Yet!)
They used to do that back in the day, fucking dungeon times,
when the cunts told you fuck all
and threw in bread and water once a day.
You know what ‘Day’ it is today
and you’ll know what ‘Day’ it is tomorrow,
don’t think about it anymore than that.”
He put the leaflet away, and I never saw him fucking about with it again.
A month or so later, they were shipping me out to a Higher Cat,
to start in on my sentence properly.
He came up to me the night before and gave me an apple from his dinner.
“Thanks for that little talk in the beginning, it helped a lot,
it took a large chunk of the head-mess away…
and I didn’t realize just how big it was until it was gone.”

paul smoking - Copy

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at You can also read his poems and stories here!

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