James Redfern

Color Inside the Lines
dress up
look nice
stay in line
mind your manners
clock in
clock out
buy your insurance
pay your fines
file your taxes
color inside the lines
submit to illegitimate authority
defined only by force
stay between the rails
keep your nose to the grindstone
keep your snout down sniffing at the ground
keep your mind off existential matters
keep your face down in the evaporation pools
            all the way down in the cesspools of old-man mud
keep your eye on the prize
            as you openly profess
            how much you love the struggle
            and the charade of your subservient life
get it up and keep it up
don’t let those in charge see you
put your zealous mantle down
don’t let them see you slink off
            into the far corner
            hiding from the cameras of the Polizei
            to work the words
            in the folds of your journal and those of your cerebellum
don’t let them see,
            or even suspect
            that you have a plan for freedom
don’t let them even suspect
            that you think you know
            freedom can actually be had
don’t let them see
don’t let them know
don’t let them even have reason to suspect
            that you know
            the nature
            the will
            the power
            and the omnipresence
            of your freedom and their existential need
            to oppress, deceive, enslave, and control you.
let them believe you are beaten and dumb,
let them believe,
but always
and resist.

James Redfern was born and raised in Long Beach, California. Redfern is a graduate of Grinnell College. His work has been published by The American Journal of Poetry, Transcend, Verity La: The Clozapine Clinic, Dime Show Review, Swimming with Elephants, Montana Mouthful, Anti-Heroin Chic, Passengers Journal (forthcoming), Great Lakes Poetry Press, Fear and Loathing in Long Beach, and elsewhere.

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