- Conditional Release
I was a parole officer in a dream.There was a metal desk, linoleum floor,a black dial phone, bars on the door,crooked blinds; outside a siren screamed.I had drifted off to crime land on TV.I wasn't the smooth police detective orthe wise-cracking grey haired lock-up sergeant orthe hard-boiled captain. No, the role for mewas showing ex-offenders that I cared.They'd wander in. I'd motion them to sit.I'd ask about their debts, a job, a loan.I'd stub out cigarettes and dial the phone.I'd see their futures squared away and fixed,And lean back in my squeaky swivel chair. [End Page 36]
Hollis Robbins teaches literature, poetry, and aesthetics at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins. Her poems have appeared in Mastodon Dentist, Per Contra, and Boston Literary Magazine. Her books include a Penguin edition of the poet Frances Harper's 1892 novel Iola Leroy (2010). Her PhD is from Princeton, where she was active in the Reconstructionist congregation, String of Pearls, and began work on a long project entitled Sonnets of Imprisonment.