"Cell Song" by Etheridge Knight

As a young man, poet Etheridge Knight (1931–1991) left high school to fight in the Korean War. He returned home to America with an injury incurred from shrapnel during the war, and treatment of his injury evolved into drug addiction. In 1960, he was convicted of robbery, and went on to serve eight years in prison. It was during his sentence that he began to write poetry. He said of his journey, “I died in Korea from a shrapnel wound, and narcotics resurrected me. I died in 1960 from a prison sentence and poetry brought me back to life.”

Read more about Etheridge Knight's life and poetry here.


Cell Song


Night Music Slanted Light strike the cave of sleep. I alone tread the red circle and twist the space with speech

Come now, etheridge, don't be a savior; take your words and scrape the sky, shake rain

on the desert, sprinkle salt on the tail of a girl,

can there anything good come out of prison