February 7, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

AP photo



Frank Bonacci




The Closing of Tamms



Trapped in myself for so long

i can no longer speak with others

Unable to make memories, buried

alive in a 9 x 12 world


my only company the sound of screams

the only touch the harsh push of a guard

mind destroying madhouse

shit smeared wall, faces

special locks welded shut

Isolation stealing my will

stealing my mind

stealing my god

blood leaks to relieve the pressure

knotted scars trapped in time

none will be the same, some broken

beyond repair

Your poems are my perpetual resistance pushing

forever—pushing against the coils,

the coils tightening around my humanity

The day i no longer resist is the day

my mother loses her son

Taking A Multitude of Men’s Souls—

But I will continue to live, strive,

and survive.




Tamms was a maximum security prison in southern Illinois, known for its inhumane tactics of sensory deprivation. Approximately 80% of this poem was derived directly from the letters of inmates. 2018 is the 10th anniversary of its closing—it was closed largely due to efforts stemming from the work of the Tamms Poetry Committee.





Frank Bonacci

Frank Bonacci, MA, JD, lives in Chicago and works as the grants manager for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet. He holds a Master of Arts in English Literature from DePaul University and a Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Outside of work, he likes to write poetry and throw axes.

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