Roy Wahlberg


Listen to the audio version read by Rick Weijo.

The prison poet must mix
his inks from the liquifaction
of actual things, aching all
the while in their absence.

Wonders are not
the less wonderful
for occurring in prison.

The wasp sips her fill
from the folded silver lip
of my Sunkist soda can.

Finches tumbling in the breeze
mimic loose water chirping
down a rain-filled spout.

I carry my melancholy
to the window for a look;
a flock of birds flies over– but lands in my notebook.

Within these close confines
who but me can judge between
justified and unjustified lines?

Earthworm in this dung-hill of life
my pencil leaves graphite casts
of all thru which it has passed.

A rushing foe
the wall intercepts
the early evening sun.

The night wind forages
between prison buildings
scrying for scraps of humanity –
tomorrow the search begins anew.


Roy Wahlberg. Born: 11/20/1951. Life sentence: 1976 . His brain later determined to have been so ravaged by early-life disease, even hydrocephalus surgery was denied as pointless. Ultimately, though, magical "compensations" emerged from his brain deterioration and epilepsy treatment: the "Grandma Moses Effect" of late-life artistic drive, musicophilia, hypergraphia, and compulsive versification. With autism, aphasia (verbal deficits), and attention/memory scores of 5-7%, Wahlberg feels continuity of existence only while writing. To him, it is life itself.