Our Voices > Dispatches from Inside

A Hundred Roses

May 18, 2022

By Pam Bailey

One of the men I correspond with in federal prison has a long list of medical concerns and grievances he has filed — and for which he has been punished in myriad ways. Yet a regular theme of his emails is the joy he experiences when he encounters a squirrel in the rec yard and can get the animal to eat out of his hand. In this poem by Joseph Randy Mays, he writes about the importance of small pleasures — Pam Bailey.

People often think that prisoners don’t experience or notice the small things that those in the outside world usually take for granted. Like looking up at the shimmering gold of the sun, a rainbow after a storm, or geese flying by in formation.

I was tickled to death a few days ago when I lay on my bed and I could see the sun through my window. It shone in my face and it took me away, transporting me to a distant field. What a beautiful feeling. I dedicate this poem to moments like this.

A hundred roses, a colorful explosion in full bloom,
visible from multiple windows in our TV room.
It was only a week or two ago that the buds were closed;
but their prolific numbers were a clue to what would soon be disclosed.

A beautiful sight I am so blessed to see;
it touches the heart of the gardener in me.

I thank God for these creations of sheer beauty.
To share these experiences has become my unselfish duty.
I’m gonna miss these blooms when they fade away;
but for now, I have a hundred roses I can enjoy today.

Stop and smell the roses is a cliche, but it should be our mission. Whether we are in prison or the outside world, we should take time out to enjoy all that God has blessed us to see.

Read more from Randy Mays in his book, “Beyond the Bars.”

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