A Living Death

By  TTB

The worst pain I’ve ever felt
was looking at you, reach for me
through a video screen and I couldn’t
touch you; right then, I knew
what it felt like to die, a living
death—

A poem from a father to his youngest son.

Mouth Piece

By JM

Once, I was a man with a mouth piece
Who perceived himself
And who others perceived
As a loser, an outcast, a loner
Who did not fit into the normal world of friends
I have a mouth piece that may make a lot of people mad
Because I choose to use my First Amendment right
Of Freedom of Speech
But I also have a mouth piece
That brings joy and happiness to peoples’ lives
A lot of people love me
Because I have the courage to speak what’s on my mind

Never let anyone hold you back
And never keep stuff bottled in
You should feel free to let it out
Because you never know
If what you are holding in
Can change someone’s life

We’re Dreamers

By LV

They had promised us a better future.

We’re the ones that dream with a better future,
One by one our dreams were being achieved
We’ve built a future, in this country we’ve anchored our lives
At the end of the day, we have been awoken
to face the rawness of reality.

We’ve pursued the American dream,
they have traded our American dream;
Now we’re only dreamers,
that’s the title the government has given us.
A dream that in reality is more like a nightmare,
a nightmare that we’re forced to live day by day.
Dreams are one thing, but the reality is another.

Now we’re dreamers with an uncertain future,
My future seems like the next nightmare
It seems like they want to lock away my dreams
in a cell of an immigration detention center
“It doesn’t cost a thing to dream.”

We’re the dreamers,
The ones that claim justice, because we love this nation
We’re the ones that have overcome many obstacles,
We have reached plenty of achievements.
There’s many that wish to crush down our dreams

WOKE

By HF

What is WOKE in this day and age
Is it simply activism only from a social media page?
Is it an afro and a pick?
An Olympic stage raised clinched fist
Consciously eating organic kale salad
While digesting an Erykah Badu ballad
Is it Nat Turner’s unspoken rage?
An Angela Davis gaze
Is it a national anthem knee?
What is WOKE in the 21st Century?

What does it mean to be WOKE?
Is it the audacity to have hope?
The subtle militancy of Malcolm X’s ghost
Political satire at an extreme right wing roast
Pledging allegiance to a black body swinging from a tree
Being WOKE is strange fruit in the 21st Century

Is being WOKE something confined to the tongue,
Or the manacles of the miseducation of the Negro becoming undone?
The souls of black folk arising from a collective slumber
A raisin in the sun transcending the shade of the summer
Is it something we can taste, touch, see, hear, or feel?
Or is it only a vision our united third eye makes real?
What is the price we pay for being sound asleep?
Is it gentrification cultural misappropriation of being WOKE in this 21 Century?

Free Minds staff on the Atlantic’s “The Art of Re-Entry” panel for Justice in America!

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop was invited to amplify our members’ voices at the Atlantic’s “Justice in America” event in May. Grateful for the opportunity to fulfill our mission of uplifting marginalized voices, Executive Director Tara Libert and Poet Ambassador James Allen spoke on the panel “The Art of Re-Entry,” with fellow panelists Stephen Belber (Writer and Producer, O.G.) and David Domenici (Executive Director, Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings). Together, Tara and James powerfully spoke on the work and impact of Free Minds, creativity as it relates to self-expression and self-worth, and bibliotherapy (the therapeutic use of books to distance the self from one’s own reality). Read More