Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971:
The Final Calculus of Elon Werner, 
Prison Accountant and Murdered Hostage
by Paul David Adkins

I count I’m one
of 42 hostages in this dirt patch, open jail. 
What are the odds?

Your job’ll be easy,
they said.

It’s just crunching numbers
with a ten-key in an office,
they said. They, 

now stalking the walls outside, safe
and cramming their magazines with Dum Dums,

five by five and ten by ten.
They click the bullets in the clips, exactly the sound I hear

when my figures turn out right.

Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971:
Murdered Inmate Jose Mentijo Breaks Down the Inner Workings 
of the Rebellion

This nation. It must be preserved.

Who said that?
Our spokesman Brother Richard X. Clark, that’s who.

You people, so ignorant of history,
so ignorant of this single-spangled state
demarcated with razor wire, 
circled by man-sized sharks in baby blue who weren’t having it.

This federation created and balanced on the backs
of OUR prisoners, on whose lives we planned to ride
into the century in which you now stand, not even wondering where we are.

And, just so you know, I didn’t say any of this.

This writer is a fake.

But Brother Richard . . .

Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971:
Lorenzo McNeil, Murdered Inmate, Recognizes a Reference to Himself 
in NWA’s 1988 Release Fuck Da Police

Ice Cube said You’d rather see me in a pen
than me and Lorenzo riding in a Benz-o.

Man, how’d he know? How
did he know? How, man?
How did he know how?
Did he know how? Man,
did he! How? No.
No, he did, man. How? He . . .
How man did know. Man did, no.
Know how he did man.

Me in the pen, Lorenzo,
rather be riding in a Benz-o.

He knew.

Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971:
Harrison Whalen, Murdered Hostage, 
Accuses Prison Officials of Cheating 

His Wife Out of Suing the State of New York for His Wrongful Death

It was slow, my death – 
almost a month.

I lingered,
an odor.

My wife sat
beside me every minute.

Some officer handed her a form 
to swear

she would not sue
the state.

She could not say no. 
She signed.

He may as well have fucked her.

Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971:
Charles Lundy, Murdered Inmate, Proudly Explains the Rules, Regulations, 
and Flag Etiquette of “D” Yard
to the Audience Listening at Home Before the Onslaught

We live in gray mud, slit stench, trash,

canvass lean-tos, sharpened sticks, trash,

bent chairs, diesel rainbows, and trash.

This is the world we’ve taken,
the one we will defend. Our trash, our sticks. This psychedelic mud we pattern
with our boot soles, is sacred, ours.

You’d know our laws if you cared 
to listen:  no drugs, no rape, no treason, no murder, and damn sure NO

TOUCHING THE HOSTAGES. Like our mothers taught, we play by rules, 
pray to whichever god we think can get us out alive.

We live in garbage, but it is
our garbage, lying in the perfect disorder of our order.

Our flag an ass-rag, but we stand up straight, like men, and swear.

Paul David Adkins (he/him/his) earned an MFA from Washington University. In 2018, Lit Riot published his collection Dispatches from the FOB. Journal publications include Pleiades, River Styx, Rattle, and Diode. He has received one Best of the Net, six Pushcart nominations, and the 2019 Central NY Book Award for Poetry.