Growing Old

August 14, 2018 | Mark Thompson

In this piece, performed in The Strength of Our Convictions:  The Auburn Redemption, Mark “AZ” Thompson, who has been incarcerated for thirty-eight years, explores growing old in prison.

I never gave much thought to growing old…

When you’re young, dumb, and full of fun

More often than not you can’t think pass go.

So here I stand, the big 60… months away from 61.


Those of us that know, like Moses and Job

Worn out war stories, told over and over,

Grow pretty old… old is old.


Ever so gently time creeps up on you.

Today it’s my back that’s bothering me

Yesterday I was having trouble with my vision:

“walking up and down the stairs with these damn bifocals

takes a while getting used to.”

The doctor tells me that because of my poor eating habits

And fluctuating blood pressure

He’s placing me on the diet line.

Honestly, do I look as if I need to be on a diet?

Fried fish, re-fried fried chicken, fried rice… what can I say?

In the past 38 and a half years,

I’ve eaten enough potatoes that I should change my name to spud!


Growing old behind prison bars

Has allowed my battle scars to manifest themselves.

As a youth, I was often neglected and over-looked

Often left to look after my younger siblings.


It’s 2018 and life is still the same

The average age of the men that I mentor is 24

The shoes that I wear have more time in them.

When they talk to me

It’s as if I’m not even there….

When it comes to dealing with the politics of prison

I’ve been there and done that, and I’ve even bought the t-shirt.