Ben Terry

gray metal fence during sunset
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A Bright Future by Ben Terry

This morning I saw the sun
Give birth to a string of stars,
Laid like a garland atop the barbwire
Outside my window.
With one eye drowning in my flattened pillow,
I watched and counted.
Nine minutes from conception to death.
Nothingness, brilliance, nothingness.
An entire generation of light
Passed like morning wood.

First published in Rattle. Reprinted with permission by the author.

Ben Terry: “About three years into serving the sentence of life without parole, I had a King Solomon moment one morning where the shortness of life and wasted opportunity overwhelmed me as I stared out the window. Yet in short order I was forced to laugh, because apparently half of me seemed obliviously optimistic. I took a man’s life in 2005. I’m now serving a sentence of life without parole–meaning I will never be released. The death penalty is reserved for only the most heinous of crimes, for those people thought permanently broken. Life without parole is simply a slower version. It is an indemnity that says everyone who has it is incapable of change and void of hope. A supposition that defies logic and our very biology–the one that affords us the ability to hope. And if it’s true for me then it is true for you.”