You leave home every morning
With a badge upon your chest;
You don’t know if today will be
The day you’re put to the test.
You’re surrounded every day
By murderers, thugs, and gangs;
Your every step is watched
By someone wishing you would hang.
They’ll lie to you and steal from you
Every chance they get;
The have nothing left to live for
And they’ll kill you on a bet.
They’ll kill each other too
Whenever the chance comes up;
Divided into gangs they know
Sooner or later they’ll take that thrust.
Every day your eyes are trained
To watch these guys every minute;
You never want to turn your back
Or you’ll find a shank thrust in it.
The badge you wear covers your heart
But won’t stop a prisoner cold;
If anything it makes him hate
And only makes him more bold.
Every day you never know
If you’ll be going home;
You trust your gun to keep you safe
But the challenge is too great for some.
Courage, honor, pride, and truth
Are the colors that you wear;
Everyday you have them on
Without them you wouldn’t dare.
You won’t dare to go inside
Without them, not even once;
Your gun, your spray, your cuffs
All hang upon your belt with trust.
Then one day all Hell breaks loose
The prisoners planned a riot;
It’s ever man for himself
And there’s not a moments’ quiet.
Hell rises up and roars so loud
You can’t hear your partner screaming;
He takes a shank in the throat
And you stand there and watch him bleeding.
For half a second you can’t move
Then your training kicks in real fast;
You take out two of the rioters
Who’ve got your partner down, almost breathing his last.
Peace is restored in record time
The prison is on lock-down;
Your partner lives without a moment to spare
And you drive slowly through town.
You think about what might have been
Had any guards not made it;
But courage, honor, pride and trust
Were the colors that had won it.
Karen Teich-Cluster lives on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, Alabama. She 1st wrote in the 6th grade, winning 1st place in the Human Relations Day Essay Contest, now Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She has been writing poetry for over 30 years and is also at work on self-publishing a book, “The Odyssey of Me”, which includes many poems about war. Karen is also well traveled, having been raised as the daughter of An Army helicopter pilot who served 2 tours in Vietnam and a magically brave stay-at-home mother.