Pelican Bay Lights

Photo By Kim Harms

I beat the sun to your town,

watched the surf light grey the beach

before the cardboard kings began

sorting treasures in humped blanket rolls.

The prison’s here. The one with

the sign, not some mental

restriction, or emotional

underbelly in revolt.

Guards, entry cards, bars,

inside, inmates await

family visits, mail call,

court dates and answered prayers.

My cowboy boots click

the corridors, state issued ID

swinging like Jesus on a stick

from my neck.

Volunteer chaplain

fitted for a vest, meant

to deter violence

while preaching Peace.

Everyday is Easter

walking, like Lazarus,

from cell block

to concrete chapel.

Angels hover

as fluorescent lights flicker.

The piano’s out of tune,

even in Spanish.

The brothers sit

while I stand in the gap.

Our Father

lends His Son.

The hum of a hymn,

the comfort of a known page

turning, the ritual of handshakes,


All that is holy

is here, all that is evil, available upon request,

same as everywhere.

Came to serve,

we get our game, our name

from Him. Play and pray

’til the whistle blows.

The ride home, alone

but not, a chance to whisper

through the trees

and live, like roots,


Will Schmit

Will Schmit is a volunteer outreach prison minister for Lifehouse Church in McKinleyville Ca. He is the author of Head Lines A Sixty Day Guide to Personal Psalmistry and Jesus Inside A Prison Minister's Memoir and Training Manual both available at Amazon Books and The website also includes poetry, ministry updates, and music downloads from Bring To Glory a CD of spoken word with coffee house jazz.

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