American Gulag

A concrete room

seven by twelve

measured by feet placed

one in front of the other

in the straight line

I have walked for decades.


Concrete furniture

permanently arranged

table, chair, bed

I have no right

to move furniture anymore.


Red metal door

with opaque window

just a slot to pass the food

I will always eat


I have no right to

conversation or company.


Cameras watch me dark and light

even on the low water toilet

lest I try to escape to the next world.

Low water lest I

drown myself.


I used to play with myself

while they watched

but not anymore.

It’s no fun

when you can no longer imagine.


My room is sound proof

No window to the outside

There is no outside.

Twenty three hours a day

with nothing to do

save penance.


I hear no one

I see no one

Nothing to fill the void.

but the sound of my

breathing and heartbeat.


I am exercised one hour a day

at the bottom of a concrete pool

under a tiny piece of sky

surrounded by concrete walls.

No birds fly over this place.


I don’t know where I am

I am kept in a room at this hotel.

I’ve never seen the other guests

though I am kept alive by someone.


If I don’t eat

the tube goes up my nose

to keep me healthy

and prolong my living.

Why do they want me to live?


I can no long remember

my mother’s face

or the love of a woman

or green grass

I can no longer remember

the color green

There is no existence

save the electronic zoo.

And there is no green.


Stalin would have been

more merciful


He might have simply

worked me to death

under a forest canopy in Siberia

I might have died in Spring

in the arms of others

still with the memory of

my mother’s face

the love of a woman

the color green.


Shoot me.



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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6 Responses to American Gulag

  1. toritto says:

    This is for those who believe that solitary confinement for extended periods or life is cruel and unusual punishment and is in violation of the U. S. Constitution.

    Further, the American penal system has reinvented slavery by the back door. No society in history has imprisoned more of it citizens. One of 13 males between the age of 20 and 34 is imprisoned. For blacks that figure is one in nine.

    The U.S. forbids importation into the country of anything currently manufactured here with prison labor. Fully 100% of all military uniforms, helmets, vests etc are made with prison labor – as is 93% of all domestically manufactured paint, 36% of appliances and 21% of furniture.

    And you thought it was just license plates.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sojourner says:

    Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    For all of you folks who believe you live in a country that is just and good, here is something you should read carefully!

    Thanks, Toritto!


  3. Norman Pilon says:

    “Fully 100% of all military uniforms, helmets, vests etc are made with prison labor – as is 93% of all domestically manufactured paint, 36% of appliances and 21% of furniture.”

    Not to mention that prisons as such have become an industrial / investment sector in the U.S.:

    Source for what follows:


    The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

    Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, “the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners.” The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons


    ‘Market’ incentives for imprisoning people. Amerikan capitalism, because it works.

    Shoot me, indeed.


  4. This is just heartbreaking! And people have the nerve to wonder why there are no good paying jobs in America. It is because anything that is still made in the U.S. is made inside a prison and for mere pennies. That is really what it’s all about. No need for pensions, sick pay, vacation pay, personal days, family leave; they don’t have to pay for any of that and we don’t even have a problem with it because we just feel real safe that some petty drug dealers are off the streets. We feel real safe that some shoplifter is off the streets. We feel real safe that some vagrant is cooling his/her heels inside a ‘for-profit prison’. I despair of us!

    But I do thank you Toritto for bringing this to our attention. Your poem was ever so spot on!


  5. Reblogged this on shelbycourtland and commented:
    Toritto thank you for bringing ‘American Gulag’ to our attention! Once again, another MUST READ!


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