Rest in Peace Bambi (Untitled)

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I first met Laurie Bembenek in the late 1980s while she was serving a life sentence for killing her husbands’ ex-wife. The former Playboy cocktail waitress, and Milwaukee Police officer maintained her innocence her entire life, claiming she was framed for filing an EEOC complaint against the MPD.  She was convicted in what was called the most circumstantial case in the history of Wisconsin. She escaped not long after I wrote a series of articles for the Shepherd Express questioning her conviction and uncovering evidence along with private detective Ira Robins that was later used to help her negotiate a plea deal, which led to her eventual freedom.  She died of liver disease Nov. 20, 2010.  In my files, I found one of her unpublished and untitled poems she mailed  to me about life at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.  She loved to read; she loved to write and she loved freedom – something she never captured in life even after being released  — Timothy W. Maier

Laurie Bembenek (1958-2010)

October 23, 1987

It now takes more than one hand

To count all the birthdays I’ve spent here.

Waiting in a dark office one cold morning

I glanced up at tree branches outside

noticing that already they look like veins

stretching skyward,

and realized

I can no longer live like this.

You  would think

that after years of being subjected to  so

much dehumanizing

degradation and intrusion, after being

stripped-searched while menstruating

(to the obvious delight of two lesbian guards)

after being forced to use the toilet

in front of many strangers,

after being seized in the middle of the night

to shovel snow or to urinate into a cup

upon command,

after year upon year of sensory


of being mental sodomy

of being harassed










threatened and interrogated

you would think that the small punishments could be ignored

when we are loudly warned,

not to let a visitor kiss us again,

when we are ordered to do meaningless

work and then to lose 2 days pay for being late,

when we are helplessly moved from place to place,

when we are denied a package of cookies from home;

but this deathless oppression only grows


becomes more unbearable.

I am tired of wondering

how many fascist assholes read my letters

(and then wonder if they will

reach their destination

of being monitored by cameras,

deprived of sex

ruled by a lack of alternatives and the

sounds of belts, keys and walkie-


I can no longer watch the children

Outside the fence crying:  “But Mommy

I don’t want to say good-bye.”

I have no children but I feel like that


I look quickly away

from the red-eyed women. I

don’t want to see anymore.

I can’t stand the paranoia, the worry and despair.

Sometimes of late

It feels as though I could explode

Hurt then They would win.

I would only trade my poignant reality

For psychotropic drugs and paper gowns.

So I gather up another armful of resistance

and go on,

for now.