HMP Cooking and Equality

October 26 2018

HMP Cooking and Equality

HMP Cooking and Equality come from M James’ Crime, Love and Literature, a collection of a total of 21 poems, which received a Platinum Award at this year’s Koestler Awards.


HMP Cooking

I was raw from the gangster’s butchers

On Poverty Street.

Grilled in a police station,

Packaged in a cell like meat,

Seasoned up on remand with the usual

Smile: ‘keep him sweet’.

Then the judge fried me with 18 years

Through a gaze that seared my skin

And sent me down to boil with rage.


The spillage on the daily baking-paper

Said I’d been given a large serving of thyme.

To today’s palates

Not using so much would have been a crime.

My sauciness simmered

As the killer bacteria left my bones.

My rich smell steamed out

Scenting the home.

I was hot-headed before,

But cooled right down.

Taste buds began to desire

Me, but weren’t sure if I’d

Go well with wine.

They probed and tested my temperature

For any hidden danger

With a sharp stab of patronisation.

“All seems fine,” Chef Parole said


He didn’t want the responsibility

Of anyone catching food poisoning,

So he left me in the pot for longer.

“There’s too much spice and too many meatheads

In here.”

Don’t roast me for too long.

I could burn

Or I could be the nicest chicken

The world’s ever tasted.

“I’m now infused with the essence of a sage

Leaf and taste like a clever little stew.

Try me now!”


When we come together

Words like racism

Will become Old English,

The tides will remain

On the shores of our hearts

Teaching schools of young fish

To swim together.

When we connect

On broken concrete

Acid will stop eroding streets;

Hearts will burn with amour

Allowing elders to enjoy

The end of ‘World War’.

When we judge minds

Rather than gender

And open our blinds

To Love’s sunshine

Many might not feel

Their status is a crime.

When we smile.

When we believe.

When we materialise these dreams

A new word


into dictionaries –


(Painting by Edward, a Gold Award recipient at Koestler Awards 2018)

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