written by Bruce A. Pandolfo
In Maryland, Robin Woods was no Robin Hood
robbing goods prolifically from warehouses
or whatever whereabouts,
but how else are you to make a living
with no catered education, given
the ruler at school your future is dimming
a decade later, breaking and entering villain
thieving phones and computer equipment..
stole a car, and 20k worth of gear, he's 26 tops,
next night he's playing pool in comes 6 cops,
a friend turned rat went behind his turned back,
Robin doesn't blame the guy, its every man for himself,
which often means its every man v.s. Everyone else.
Non-violent felony, but had prior convictions too,
given 16 years at Maryland Correctional Institute,
Absolutely overkill, perhaps Draconian,
certainly the worst place they'd ever thrown him in.
Guards beat the inmates with nearly no provoking,
so the next night, revenge was reaped in a riot's stoking
Robert helped incite it, beaten and given a label
“One of the most dangerous men in Maryland” as if he was unstable,
Stuck him in a cell he found a way to escape though,
someone came by with a library cart,
didn't have a need for books or library card,
Robin never even read a children's book, profoundly dense,
He grabbed The Sicilian and autobio of Malcom X
Buried his nose in the books, there was so much to learn,
understood little, but hope rose with each page he turned
He borrowed a dictionary for alienating words,
and gradually grew his vocabulary amassing many terms,
Became a book worm, mental appetite voracious,
but really could you blame him, is it really that outrageous?
It became an escape from the prison's cold grayness
The pages were like portals full of spells and incantations,
spell bound mining between the binding tales unwinding
learning to spell, mind bounded away from the cell's bindings.
He could travel space and time, through countries, cultures, disciplines,
read books by the dozens... then the hundreds that they'd give to him
He bought an encyclopedia, decided to fully read it,
millions of words, morning, afternoon and evening,
One day located a mistake, and hardly could believe it,
in a letter, corrected the editor, Mark Stevens
To his surprise a month later, he got a letter it so pleased him
he opened it so gingerly, he'd practically steamed it,
Mark thanked him, Robin was crazily pleased with it
so developed an epistolary rapport after the meeting,
Friends through many letters, Mark didn't know Robin's crimes,
They moved Robin to a new prison, and said “no books this time”
devastated, Robin immediately went on a hunger strike,
Dropped nearly 80 pounds and Mark decided to write.
Robin explained his pseudo editor job to the commissioner,
That he was obsessed with learning, a great reader and listener,
Impressed with the dedication of this autodidact,
he said, we'll let you off early and you can have your life back
Released after 16 years, at 44 years of age,
no life skills, or decent wage, the bills couldn't be paid,
Robin kept in touch with Mark, his only common social factor
Mark started electing to be Robin's benefactor.
Sent countless dollars over the course of many years,
Finally Robin met with Mark, hugged him and burst out in tears,
They hiked, talked books, saw a play and the Dickinson house,
When Robin drove home he noticed the glass of his window was out,
Robin was robbed in poetic justice and Karmic punishment
And ironically no longer reads to escape the world, he's a part of it.