The Man Who Braved the Everglades

Ray calls me for my address
though I've given it to him twice.
He's the uncle I saw most.
He's the uncle who Did Time:
15 years for beating his young wife to death
when he caught her cheating, high on LSD.
He's the reason I've never used drugs
outside glass.

First Puerto Rican cop in Rockland County.
First man I saw cry.
First and last person I visited in prison as a kid.

I think of him every time I cross the bridge
and see the lights from Downstate Correctional.
He thinks of me now
as he calls me on a Bloody Mary Sunday
my teeth unbrushed
my knees uncovered
my heart in relative shambles.
I give him my address
and he hangs up.

I know what it's like
to write from a jail cell.

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