Lily Someson

how to write to your inmate

do not use staples or paper clips within your letter to your inmate     do not use marker,

crayon, glitter, glue, stickers or lipstick on the letter or envelope addressed to your

inmate do not give your inmate any drawings or markings that can be misconstrued as

secret code i.e. art or pictures or their daughter’s drawings such breaches in security will

result in destroying of the letter     do not ask your inmate to hold you without

permission from the prison     do not speak of the way freshness is always heavier in the

mornings as your inmate has not seen the dew in so long     do not forget your inmate

do not write anything in the letters that you wouldn’t want a third party to read     do not

learn anything in childhood that your inmate was meant to teach you because it will not

be the same without them     do not send flowers because your inmate may have

forgotten what they look like     do not forget your inmate do not talk of the outside

world in your letter to your inmate     do not talk of your new life without them in your

letter to your inmate     do not think that someone will love you     that anyone will love

you without becoming trapped in something or another, their arms outstretched and

waiting     do not forget your father     do not forget your inmate

i want to say i found my father’s letters


my own mouth

in the midwest house, all curled up

and chewed from years of reading and going over. i want to say

they meant something other

than words. this is not the story everyone wanted, the truth

churning itself all over the kitchen table, all over the sweet sky.

my father appears and we are in a room where we can exist

at the same time without

so much thinking about it. i’m having the dream

where he has nothing to say except for that the sunlight looks so

bright from the window above us, like he hasn’t felt the heat

in years. i want to tell you the story without feeling like

i need to prove that he says anything.

he tells me about my own name

like he owns it in his mouth, like he made it with his hands

out of the glass separating us, the barelythere of it all.

i do think he says tell your mother i love her

and i can never remember what i say

after that

poem in which my father is trapped in a jail cell

in which his father is trapped in a jail cell, in which his father is trapped in a

noose, in which his father is trapped in a cage, in which his father is trapped on a boat,

in which his father is trapped in the sea, and in the poem every mother comes to the

water at the same time, their bodies wet with grief, the atlantic sun and her children,

christened with the mention of poplar bark, i have never known you, but i have always

loved you, every scream in the thick of the water, i’ve been born your brand of sorrow,

and for you every mother is here, calling out names of their loved ones, hoping that the

boy will come home, and yes, there she is, she’s begging for her son back, every mother

is here

poem made of my father’s letters to my mother, 2004-2014

remember when we were not old, still brandished with our own touches? we went to

lake michigan off of miller beach and it was back when the sand was still so visible and

unrelenting, licking the inside of its own stomach you remember? and you wore

those white capris you know the ones; your hair was so long i thought i could never

find my way out of it, the coils wrapping themselves around themselves and it was so

early and i thought that maybe if i never took my eyes off of you the whole day it would

never get darker, the morning fading into its own pseudolight and long dance and

you would never have to leave. i think it was 1994, and i swear lisa i swear i’ve

never seen anything more beautiful than you on that day when we met and i just

knew we would have so many more days like that, so yellow and quiet and holy and i

know i’ll get out of here sweetheart and someday we can go back and relive our

mistakes like i never did a bad thing like i never was anything but lover and lover and

father and and someday we’ll touch not through the plexiglass, its shape bowing

under our heated palms and every day every day we’ll turn 30



Author Bio

Lily Someson is a queer poet and essayist from Chicago, Illinois. She is currently an undergraduate poetry major and gender studies minor at Columbia College Chicago, where she is an editor of Columbia Poetry Review. Her work can be found in Ransack Press, Queeriosity (Young Chicago Authors), The End (zine), and Phoenix (zine), among others. She is currently writing a book of poetry on incarceration, fatherhood, tenderness, and the black body in America.