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Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker Reads a Poem From Prison

The freewheeling drifter and accused killer lays his soul bare with some spoken-word rhymes from inside New Jersey's Union County Jail

He’s been labeled a freewheeling drifter, a folk hero for the digital age and an accused killer. And now, after 15 months behind bars, the man known as “Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker” may soon also be known as a prison poet.

The voice of the onetime Internet phenomenon has emerged from inside New Jersey’s Union County Jail to lay his soul bare and reflect upon the universe. During a recorded phone call with supporters last week, Kai—whose real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary—broke into a series of rhyming couplets.

“I want to read you a poem about everything I believe in,” says the 25-year-old bard. “Here it goes. Here goes nothing.”

We the ocean bathed in light  

Dive bodies of heavenly height 

Defuse the souls of every star 

To earth’s own molten iron bar 

Salty shimmer through stormy eye 

Shines a message to the sky 

Here beside me just for tonight 

Gemini sits by candlelight 

Nervous system not so tense 

Due to Saturn’s influence 

The moon pulls at our salty eyes 

As sunshine’s will to hypnotize 

As above so be below 

But any new intentions show 

The shooting star appeared to be you 

But now I don’t know what to do 

Creation speaks creator’s voice 

We show ourselves with every choice

Kai’s star turn came in February 2013 after he clobbered a maniac driver with an axe while thumbing a ride through California, and then offered the world a profanity-laced retelling of the story, which was captured by KPMH News. For the next four months, he rode a wave of Internet fame, landing an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and crisscrossing the country to stay with strangers drawn to Kai’s sauntering spirit. (Full disclosure: Kai nearly slept on my couch in Brooklyn, but my now-wife and our roommate said no fucking way.)

But the good times came to a sudden end that May when Kai was accused of beating a 73-year-old attorney to death in New Jersey during an alleged weekend romp. While he hinted that he had been drugged and raped by the victim, Joseph Galfy Jr., a grand jury indicted Kai for murder in November, and he has been in jail ever since.

A judge is expected to set the date for Kai’s murder trial on Sept. 8. Kai turns 26 next week.

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