It is of a spider, the structure I mean, Holmesburg Prison (now condemned). The center body, then channels of cell blocks extending from. Of course the inmate chow hall walls, poorly drawn, large murals. Murals of gray and red upon the gray, ugly green…. And where I was cornered within my first prison riot years ago. You heard voices loud, then shouts, then the vocalized hate. The inmate population, mostly North Philly’s poor and discarded erupted to devour all.

I was in the chow hall, tin tray in hand when the wave of distorted faces came my way…. To do?! Run! If there be an exit. Not. Fight until hard death…. I fought. Fought wailing metal tray. Fought unto.. I.. of faced distorted. Fought unto I of lungs of scream. Fought unto I of stomach of vomit charging from mouth…. I fought on. And all the time there was someone against my very back. He, trying to stay alive too. Same as I with everything that my mind, bone and tissue could excel with…. In combination of a human…. I wanted to live.

We lived. That someone at my back. We lived…. Once, secure by prison guards, city police, state troopers, there laying on the chow hall floor. Bent trays just there as if Gods given protection. And near by, the one who fought with me back to back.


“What’s your name?”

“My name, Prince, everybody calls me Prince.I know who you are, saw you in the papers”

“Well Prince, we’re alive. I felt your back meeting mine, thanks, really thanks”

“Yes, people think cause, cause I’m gay I can’t fight”

“Well, you did”

“I saw you around the jail. I know someone like you won’t bother with the likes of me. You know I am a street dresser and all”

I stared at him before I answered….”Some people learn everyday how to forgive, be humble. I did today.. I did today”

By George Martorano