Like many other indulgent writer types, I often wonder if I’ll end up in prison. It just takes one dystopian government, you know. Unlike other indulgent writer types, I have real reason to worry. The backlash against President Trump is coming, and I am not convinced we’ll lead it. What if President Cory Booker launches really vague hate speech laws and all the overzealous trolls from Think Progress start suing everyone who ever wrote for Current Affairs?

And what if Title IX goes national and leaves college scandals in the dust? It doesn’t take much, you know. I don’t think I’ll do well in prison either. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’d just work out a bunch and read a ton of books. But I doubt it. I’ve never shoplifted because I always figured I’d die of embarrassment if I ever had to tell someone I got arrested for such a lame crime. That embarrassment will pale in comparison to saying, “Yeah, I did six years for calling Bill Kristol a ‘fat retard’ on the Internet. I got three years for fatphobia and three for ableism.”

I bring this up because I want to know if you’d visit me. Would you write me letters and send me cigarettes? I wonder how many people from my past would. Given how few people can muster the energy to reply to my autistic emails, I figure not too many would bother going through the arduous visitation process. Maybe that’s just a new way of saying, “No one would come to my funeral if I died tomorrow,” but man, people are fucking lazy. People would be sad that I got locked up, sure. They would wish I was not in prison. But actually visit? I have my doubts. I hope you would. That’d probably be a sign of a life well-lived: when your ex-girlfriends visit you in prison.


“Prison” is an excerpt from Richard Power’s new memoir, Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.