Poetry: In Your Dreams

Janie Conway-Herron

In your dreams, the words slip out
between the straight iron bars
and over the barb-wired prison walls.
Passing machine-gunned sentinels
in lofty turrets, they tumble
into narrow streets
and gather in town squares.
‘Listen, listen!’ the words say
to anyone with half an ear for freedom
‘Look, look’ they cry,
pointing at the prison wall,
that towers before them.
‘There are innocents in there,
guilty of nothing but dreams
of peace and hope and harmony’.

But life in a crowded cell with nothing
but the cloying closeness of cell mates
And the stench of bucket toilets
requires more than dreams.
So you conjure whispered words
into the late-night pinpricking of plastic bags,
while you plan a stealthy exchange,
with visitors and family
who bring food, laughter, comfort
and news of an outside world.
As you clutch your pinpricked words
and the rustling plastic bag
in the sweaty palms of your deception,
a profusion of goodbyes hides
the rushing of your heart’s blood.

Then the words pass unwary guards.
A smile, a nod, a clicking of stiff, leathered heels
and they are on the streets.
Running down laneways,
past brightly lit market stalls
brimming with exotic fruit and salty fish,
and beggar children with pining eyes.
Past the tea shop on the corner,
and the secret garden of delights,
where the scent of steel flowers from prison
sways under a wretched darkening moon
There, under a harsh neon light,
ink turns pinpricked plastic
into words on a naked page.
And suddenly you are free.

Like the stars that sparkle in a moonless sky.
Like the dawn that wakes the fighting peacock.
Like the sleeping citizens of the world
as they greet the coming of a brand new day.

About the Poem ‘In Your Dreams’‘In Your Dreams’ was written after conducting creative writing workshops with Burmese refugees and inspired by a collection of poems called ‘Scent of Steel Flowers’ written by women political prisoners whose family and friends helped the authors smuggle their poems out of prison. The poems from the women were subsequently published in, Burma – Women’s Voices Together, 2003, Bangkok: Altsean – Burma pp 65 – 69.    


  1. Great poem Janie and thanks for contributing, hope to see this as a regular thing :-) Best wishes, Rob

  2. That poem was really great. You are quite a gifted poet. Kudos!


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