Poem: These Boots

A new CO uses poetry to explain to her friends and family what it is like to walk a mile in the footsteps of a correctional officer


Calling all poets! CorrectionsOne’s poetry column highlights some of the inspirational, moving and funny poems authored by our readers.

This month's poem is by a new correctional officer who finds it hard to explain to people what COs do for a living. "I find it even harder to explain to my friends and family why I don't want to talk about work even though they're just wondering how my day was," said the new CO. "It's just one of those jobs where unless you have done it, you will never quite understand it. That fact, coupled with an evening of scrubbing lord knows what off the bottom of my boots, led me to write this poem."  

Email your original writing submission for consideration to editor@correctionsone.com.

Corrections is one of those jobs where unless you have done it, you will never quite understand it. (Photo/Pixabay)
Corrections is one of those jobs where unless you have done it, you will never quite understand it. (Photo/Pixabay)

My Boots

Walk a mile in my footsteps

Walk a day in my boots

And you'll understand and maybe appreciate

How they got to how they look

 

Listen to your radio

Loud beep sounds the alarm

Your buddy calls for circulators

That's when you know to respond

 

Over rock and cement

Through heavy rain and snow

It's always windy, just count on that

And an uphill run as you go

 

Not sure what you're running into

You just know your help is needed

Could be a fight with bloody faces

Could be an argument getting heated

 

But might I prepare you 

For the things I often meet

It's not the punches or the yelling

It's an offender in defeat

 

A bed sheet torn in several pieces

Tied oh so secretly

If you didn't know these people like I do

You might just think they're sleeping

 

But, of course, your buddy knows better

He's one of me, he's my brother

He knows the signs, so don't hesitate

For if you do, it might be too late

 

Breach the door

Pull back the blankets

See what your buddy knew

Seven knots tied around their neck

Their face extremely blue

 

Forget the knife, it never works

This work you do by hand

Little by little, knot by knot

You'll pull it strand by strand

 

It's infuriating, it's stressful

Gives you nightmares while you sleep

But for now, focus on what you're doing

COs don't accept defeat

 

They begin to breathe 

Tonight they'll be on watch 

No shirt or socks, just one green gown

15 minutes rounds, your buddy walks

 

They survive another night

It's a job well done indeed

Now they begin to bang their head

It's a sight you can't unsee

 

Blood pours down their face 

And you try to convince the decisive 

That their pain won't last forever

That it's a temporary crisis

 

Your captain yells "Suit up"

So go don your vest and helmet

You prepare to enter the cell 

You are given your assignment

 

As a team, you charge on in

Wade through blood and dirty water

They put up a good fight, but in the end

Five on one is always stronger

 

You cuff them up and maintain control

As you take them to the bed

With restraints laid out and ready

While they're begging to be dead

 

You strap them down, it's never pretty

It won't feel good but that's the job

You leave them in the room alone

While you hear them start to sob

 

Just like that, your job is done

At least right here, right now

For the minute you think it's over

Another alarm begins to sound

 

You must forget what you just saw

And however you must feel

Tonight you'll drink and joke about it

It's not great, it's just how we deal

 

Through blazing sun that burns your face

You sprint uneven paths

Through mud and dirt and, of course, uphill

Sweat dripping down your back

 

Not sure what you're running into

You just brace yourself for all

For when your buddy says they need you

You'll be there to answer the call

 

Flooded cells and fistfights

I've done it all as you can see

For those boots that you are wearing

Have every mark that there can be

 

Walk a mile in my footsteps

Walk a day in my boots

And you'll start to understand and maybe appreciate 

How they got to how they look

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