Piper, if I May Have a Word?


before prison

I watched your show

binge watched even

who didn’t?

in the furor

was common ground

among disparate selves

racy and fast paced

it engendered empathy

for a diverse gang

national phenomenon

it captivated us all


black is a little black dress

versatile, all purpose or sexy

what does orange

have to do with that?

then there was real prison

I wore orange

for a year

jumpsuit ill suited

for feminine curves

or a sense of humanity

I didn’t meet hot women

(no one is hot in orange sack cloth

and ashes of abject humiliation)

or have dance parties

or great sex (or any sex)

my skin withered

from lack of affection


black is trendy and chic

slimming, for daywear and night

true, we wore orange 24/7

and I did lose weight


Did you really wear orange at all?

Feds wear khaki scrubs

those are haute couture

compared to orange


burnt smelling jumpsuits

everyone wants to wear black

it’s sexy in a bra

all business in a pencil skirt

orange is stigma in shapeless coveralls

no one bargain hunts those


in real prison

I was always scared

I cried (a lot)

I was so alone

I was miserable

I felt guilty if

I accidentally laughed

you referenced the misery

almost in an aside

unnecessary eyeliner on a model

it was the carb-laden

diet of my existence


I thought about you

and your story

in harsh reality

and how we might

have common ground

middle class professionals


so I read your book

searching for understanding

validation of experience

my search for affirmation

abandoned me

in a bittersweet desert

destined to find myself


I felt your empathy

desire not to judge

your compatriots

I appreciated that

I was impressed

by those sentiments

I scavenged what I could

well-schooled in prison survival

take what serves me

pretend I don’t see the rest

the disconnect arose

in the fun

you described

how you ran and shouted

like those women

I couldn’t stand

who acted like prison

was a street gang


who relished

the release from responsibility

that incarceration wrought

celebration of orange

is the color of abandonment

dereliction of duty

abdication of obligation


I longed for

my responsibilities

I fought the urge to

Bitch-slap women

who said jail

was a vacation

but then I would

have been sinking

to the level expected

of a felon

black could be the darkness

hidden inside us all

that we secret

even from ourselves



in my despair

I thought your survival

could light a torch

in the darkness

orange is not

the color of my torch

in black I hide

from demons and demonizing

 orange is neon shouting

my greatest private shame


I keep trying to understand

the title to your story

so many women

go to prison

were you capturing

the ubiquity

of our captivity?


I know you are a warrior

speaking out against the system

I just don’t understand

how you colored

your experience


I must have gone

to prison

with a different

set of crayons



27 thoughts on “Piper, if I May Have a Word?

  1. I wanted to ask you about this, but wasn’t sure how exactly…
    I have never watched this. I have always hated the way it is advertised, and glamorised…
    And the title…
    But now I really don’t know what to say.
    This piece is awesome. And breaks my heart for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What I find ironic is that the show is so diverse in its cast of characters and that I think is fabulous and it does a really good job of showing their back stories in ways that’s empathic rather than sort of throwing everyone aside as a bad person because they’re in prison. So that part I really do appreciate. But the glamorizing part is very much not accurate.
      And thank you for your empathy. Some of these pieces are things that have sat in my head for a while and I’m now dumping them:-)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m really glad to hear that they handle the characters with empathy. I just honestly hate the way it’s advertised here. So I am glad you wrote about it, I honestly did want to ask you about your impressions on it.
        And you are welcome. You most certainly have my empathy, I can only imagine. I feel you are such a blessing to all of us with your experience and talent.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like something intense and life-changing that this experience had brought to you, and, sometimes, we’re all, imprisoned, by our own devices, we just can’t realize it, and so, we keep on, living, in our own imprisonment of our selves…it’s really, truly, very sad, come to think of it…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So powerful, yet humble also. I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through; a very interesting choice to read her book while you were in there; she’s certainly not my favourite character in the show! Thank you for being brave enough to put this all down and out to the world…

    Liked by 1 person

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