In the last decades there have been many articulate and illustrious cons to tell us what it's like inside America's prisons -- none more impassioned and defiant than Dan Berrigan. This latest of several volumes of poems, letters and essays contrived during an 18-month ""Live-in Grant conferred on the author by the U.S. government"" in Danbury, is a diary. It is full of faces: angelic potheads, wizened lifers, prison big shots, sharks, informers, heroin addicts, political resisters, all undergoing the same animal farm treatment. Taking his title from Dostoevsky who wrote about his own time in the brig in The House of the Dead, Berrigan pursues his theme of dehumanization; of jail as ""the seizure of a man by the death force of the state,"" telling of his own and Phil's struggles -- teaching, fasting, rapping, praying -- to turn on a few lights, ""not permitting oneself an unexamined pity."" Gratuitous malice, petty sadism and boredom are the constants of prison life, recorded by Berrigan from his cell where he lies ""sleepless as a night frog"" or from the dental clinic where he works by day. ""I feel like a stone set in ice"" he writes of his own spiritual numbness during one particularly despairing period. But not for long. Like Berrigan's poetry, the diary is filled with resistance and affirmation and the gay, impish humor of an unrepentant, incorrigible Jesuit.