Published on Academy of American Poets (


A prison is the only place that’s a prison.
Maybe your brain is a beehive—or, better:
an ants nest? A spin class?
The sand stuck in an hourglass? Your brain is like
stop it. So you practice driving with your knees,
you get all the way out to the complex of Little League fields,
you get chicken fingers with four kinds of mustard—
spicy, whole grain, Dijon, yellow—
you walk from field to field, you watch yourself
play every position, you circle each identical game,
each predictable outcome. On one field you catch.
On one field you pitch. You are center field. You are left.
Sometimes you have steady hands and French braids.
Sometimes you slide too hard into second on purpose.
It feels as good to get the bloody knee as it does to kick yourself in the shin.
You wait for the bottom of the ninth to lay your blanket out in the sun.
Admit it, Sasha, the sun helps. Today,
the red team hits the home run. Red floods every field.
A wasp lands on your thigh. You know this feeling.


Copyright © 2020 by Sasha Debevec-McKenney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem takes place at Welch Park in Windsor, Connecticut, where I got my front teeth knocked out playing softball when I was thirteen. There is ignorance and violence inherent in comparing anything to a prison—quarantine, your hometown, your own mental illness. The poem says prisons should be abolished, be nice to yourself, go tanning, and always check your privilege.”
Sasha Debevec-McKenney


Sasha Debevec-McKenney

Sasha Debevec-McKenney is the 2020-2021 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Date Published: 2020-06-26

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