Feeling Afraid


I can do no wrong
In the eyes of a guy that takes lives
But live his life as a lie
And they wonder why
After all I have done
I wait at the end of it all to cry
But when I told them to leave me alone
They didn’t understand
At the time I was put out at 12
I was considered grown
And months later I confused Youth Services Center* as my new home
But they talked about me and laughed instead
So I held anger for years
And couldn’t control the urge
To react with violence
Even though I was really scared
I developed an attitude which has led me where I am: in jail
And they don’t know how it hurts to be real
So sometimes I wonder why I am not dead
Every night, I sit in my cell and think
Is it reality or am I tripping?
Because I can hear the walls talking to me
And I wonder, should I continue to listen?
In a strange way it feels good
Even though I know the Devil is on a mission
But God is not quitting
So there’s two voices I am hearing
So am I brave for admitting that I am afraid
But do not know what I am afraid of?
Or should I just hate the feeling
That feels good to love


*DC’s juvenile detention facility


  1. Idris Kuti on July 20, 2021 at 11:25 AM

    This is a really nice poem. I believe you are brave for admitting you are afraid, only the brave can admit when they are. God has a plan so keep believing in him.

  2. Aarthi on July 26, 2021 at 9:12 AM

    Hi MH, this is a great poem. The way you described fear translating into anger/violence was powerful and heartbreaking. The solitude and paranoia through the walls of the cell, the duality of the Devil and God, your description of love and hate and how they are often tied together… I loved the flow and depth of this piece! Thank you.

  3. Abby on July 28, 2021 at 12:10 AM

    Yes, you are brave for admitting you are afraid. Sharing your emotions and being vulnerable is one of the most courageous things we can do, so thank you for sharing your courage. Keep the faith, it sounds like you are a person who continues to persevere one day at a time. Loved your poem.

  4. Kellyn Wagner Ramsdell on August 12, 2021 at 10:23 PM

    This poem had a powerful rhythm to it that kept me engaged and drove me to re-read it several times. The way you incorporated a whole timeline was also really impressive. Well done.

  5. Katie on August 16, 2021 at 9:45 AM

    MH, I think you are extremely brave to feel afraid whether you know the reason or not. It is always brave to acknowledge our emotions and it is even braver to feel them fully. I can tell that you are reconciling with your feelings and attempting to process them, which I think is a beautiful thing. I hope your journey leads you to a safe and supportive path.

  6. Maxine Cassell on August 18, 2021 at 10:12 PM


    Your poem is very moving and I am absolutely stunned by your vulnerability. Each line is a deeper understanding of your story and the feeling behind the actions you had. “I couldn’t control the urge, To react with violence, Even though I was really scared”. These few lines were so emotional and honest and I want to thank you for sharing. Your words matter and you have displayed them so well. Your poem is unique and breathtaking. Please keep writing!

  7. Amma on August 19, 2021 at 10:19 AM

    This was really powerful– the inner struggle you’re describing is clearly felt in the words. The part about wondering whether or not to listen to the walls is especially a powerful metaphor. I hope you find inner peace soon.

  8. Joy on August 19, 2021 at 10:21 AM

    Wow, this is a truly beautiful poem. It is raw, it is vulnerable, it is beautiful. I am sorry you had to go through these experiences that no one should ever have to go through in their lifetime. Thank you for letting the world read your poem and opening my perspective into your life.

  9. Lalah Saleem on August 19, 2021 at 10:24 AM

    I can feel your emotions and it almost made me cry, but I want you to know that you are not alone. I sometimes lay in bed at night in the dark and confuse my negative thoughts with reality. I know what it’s like to argue with the voices in your head and I just want you to know that you are more than every negative thought you tell yourself. You are an amazing poet and capable of amazing things. I know it can be easy to find comfort in what isn’t good for you when it’s all you know, but you’re stronger than you think. You got this! I believe in you.

  10. Audrey Smallman on August 19, 2021 at 10:32 AM

    Hello! Thank you for sharing this poem. The hurt and struggle is felt, but I applaud you for being able to reflect on these emotions. While I cannot directly relate to your experience, this piece transports me to a place where there is a clear desire to be understood. For me, writing can be cathartic, but also vulnerable. In particular, I appreciate the way you were able to articulate how it “hurts to be real”. In my own struggles with mental illness, this is something that I have felt deeply, and I thank you for creating this space for reflection. I encourage you to continue writing, particularly in times when other methods of expression seem inadequate. You have a true gift.

  11. Sophie on August 19, 2021 at 10:44 AM

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve figured a few things out about feelings, not many, but a few. I may be young, and trust me I know I’m inexperienced, but I’ve had a lot of exposure to mental illness. Again, it’s not much compared to so many people, but hey, every experience is valid. My best friend started struggling with an eating disorder when she was 13, my other friend was depressed, and we had to do our best to get her to eat every day so she would at least have something. Since then many of my friends have struggled with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. My boyfriend cheated on me because he was lashing out and then a year later was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and my sister was diagnosed with the same thing a month later. I have been in and out of therapy for self harm and other random stuff. Through all of this–and I’m sorry to dump this, I just kind of started writing–I have learned that feeling your feelings is better than keeping them bottled up. But you gotta find ways to let it out in a healthy way. So, feel your anger, get fucking mad, be sad, be pissed at the world, be confused, be scared, write it all down, yell it out, breathe it out, cry (don’t hurt yourself please, it’s not worth it I promise). But feel those feelings, because they let in the door to others, hope, happiness, excitement, love, joy. And yes, I know your life and mine are different and if this is dumb please just ignore it (or hey you could tear it up as part of being mad) but out of all the things I’ve learned that is one of the most important. It’s okay to not be okay, life sucks a lot of the time, and you have to let it suck sometimes before it can get good again. I wish you all the lovely thoughts in the world and I hope the voice of God and all things good are the loudest.

  12. Simon Moskovitz on September 3, 2021 at 6:37 PM

    Hi MH,

    This poem is really powerful. I can sense the fortitude you’ve built in your life. Being on your own at 12 is scary – I can’t imagine what it’s like but can understand the anger that comes from it. You express yourself really well and have a bright future. I hope you get out soon and utilize your creative skills and talents.

  13. Robert on September 3, 2021 at 8:08 PM

    Your writing and understanding of what struggles you have faced is inspiring. Stay focused on what you can control. You have the opportunity and focus to do what you want with your life moving forward. Keep up the great focus and use your writing to help move forward.

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