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.

  14. Julia Bruffey on September 19, 2021 at 6:43 PM

    This is such a powerful poem, and being honest about your feelings and fears is very brave. Not only is it brave to admit this, but also to talk about your past and the things you have been through. The devil tries to make his way into people’s lives in the sneakiest ways, but the best thing to do is focus on our God and remember that he has a plan. This was beautifully written, and I hope I read some more of your work.

  15. Sanjana on October 17, 2021 at 4:02 PM

    Your poem is very moving and powerful. Although it may have been a difficult time for you, you do a good job reflecting on those emotions.

  16. nisha on October 17, 2021 at 4:13 PM

    This poem is emotional, and you incorporated a timeline of where you are now, and it goes to show how brave you are. You are willing to stay strong for God, and I like the honesty that you give off in the piece.

  17. Gitta Rogers on October 17, 2021 at 5:10 PM

    This is a beautiful poem. The fact that you wrote this piece shows how strong and brave you are. Reading this poem makes me feel your emotions. Thank you for this wonderful piece.

  18. ahvuhnee on October 17, 2021 at 6:38 PM

    Wow there is so much courage in admitting your fears in this poem, I commend you! Great job!

  19. emilylam99 on October 17, 2021 at 6:52 PM

    MH, your poem was so moving and touching. It’s sad to say that the justice system is not that great. I believe that everyone has their own trauma and people just need a little help with their journey. You’re already so brave by expressing how you feel and know that there are people who love and care for you.

  20. Divyaa Matta on October 18, 2021 at 10:20 PM

    I liked reading your work. I love how you express and reflect upon your emotions — very brave. It is inspiring to read through this. I am sorry you have gone through these events but I commend you for sharing!

  21. C on November 9, 2021 at 9:36 PM

    Of course you are brave! Just writing this poem shows that you are brave, it takes bravery to be vulnerable. No one should have to struggle like you so young. Being afraid and angry are totally reasonable in your situation. Keep on focusing on what you can control and channel your feelings in productive ways like your writing. I believe that your future is bright, stay strong and don’t be afraid to be afraid.

  22. Meg McTaggart on November 17, 2021 at 1:24 PM

    Please continue to keep writing. This poem was amazing. I think too, if you continue writing, when you look back you will see how much you’ve changed. Poetry is a great maker to see how you’ve responded to what life has thrown at you. In this poem, I can see that you have the courage to acknowledge that there are negative feelings in your life. Once you acknowledge them, you write them out, you let them stop controlling you.

  23. tnicholson13 on December 2, 2021 at 11:56 AM

    MH, I am so sorry. We have failed you in this system and your life is an example of we fail so many young kids. Your life is a result of our failure to give you love. When kids do not feel love they do not know anything but anger and this leads to violence. I wish more people could read this poem.

  24. Flynn on December 3, 2021 at 1:12 PM

    A true expression of feelings from someone who most people probably thought did not have any is a true sign of bravery. Keep making strides and I hope you can choose the light over the dark!

  25. Francisco Salinas on December 6, 2021 at 11:17 PM

    Greetings. I am a student currently enrolled in a class to engage with communities. Your poem really gave me a new perspective in life. I always think to myself that life involves working until you die. And for me who has grown up in a school and now in secondary education, after reading the thoughts and feelings you have on life, it really opened my eyes. I guess what I learned from this is that life in itself is too complicated to be defined. And to answer your question of whether you are brave for admitting fear, I could answer by saying that I lie to myself about my true feelings. You clearly dominate, control your emotions more than I do. Whatever the answer is, I just know that you are strong. Perhaps in a weird way, you have lived more than I have. Those are just my thoughts. Thanks for sharing yours with me.

  26. Ella on December 7, 2021 at 5:18 PM

    This is a really strong poem and I appreciate your vulnerability. I am so glad that I got to read your story and I hope that you continue to tell it as it is really powerful and deserves to be heard.

  27. priya787 on December 12, 2021 at 2:52 PM

    Hi MH,

    I can’t directly feel the pain that you have experienced or still experience, and so I can only imagine how at 12 years old you were stripped of your freedom and normalcy. Words that come to my mind: fear, ache, loneliness, betrayal from adults. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us. Find happiness in the smallest things. Take it day by day. Remember that you are more than your past. Writing allows you to create your own dimensions, connect with your inner and outer worlds, and escape reality. Never stop writing, hold onto hope, never let it go, and make it your best friend!

  28. Roxanne on January 8, 2022 at 11:19 PM

    Dear MH, You’ve shared a very painful and personal story and I really admire how honest and raw you are about your pain and fear. Your poem is wonderfully composed and written. There is a lot of talent in the way you have structured the poem and chosen words to tell your story. Still, what is best about your writing is how thoughtful and deep in your vulnerability you are. From you poem I feel a whole spectrum of emotions from anger to sadness to awe to hope. It hurts, but it’s an important hurt. I really hope that you’re able to keep writing. Be well, Roxanne

  29. Maddie on January 10, 2022 at 10:36 PM

    That was very profound. I can’t begin to imagine the internal struggles you must be dealing with, but well done with writing about it. Hopefully, writing this poem helped you be more at peace with yourself and your struggles. Stay strong!

  30. Ella Schmidt on January 16, 2022 at 10:41 AM

    Hey MH!
    This poem carries such a powerful emotion. As I was reading I felt as if I was having this internal debate with myself. I especially loved the lines, “Even though I know the Devil is on a mission. But Good is not quitting.” I think these speak volumes. It can be incredibly difficult to decipher which voice is speaking and which to listen to. But, only the brave can admit to this fear, so yes, you are brave and I admire your strength. Thank you for this beautiful piece, I can’t wait to read more of your work!

  31. Robert D on March 3, 2022 at 4:14 PM

    Very well written poem, your words truly came to life while I read it. The timeline in the poem really helped me get a good understanding. Keep it up.

  32. Lauren Vinson on March 21, 2022 at 12:59 PM

    The line you write, “God is not quitting” speaks volumes. You clearly have seen true struggle, but that does not mean your story can not be changed. You can change your path to write it your own. Lead to the Lord and you will not be alone. There is a bible verse that stays, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. ” Psalm 37:23-24.

    God will always be by your side, stay struggle and know this moment will not last forever.

  33. Talib Williams on April 14, 2022 at 7:40 PM

    This was an incredibly well written poem! The publish a poem like this takes bravery and I applaud you for going through and submitting this piece. Understanding one’s emotions and how to properly deal with them at such a young age must have been difficult and frustrating when met with opposition from YSC and later on in life. Keep your head up as things always tend to get better in the end. Stay strong and keep up the good work!

  34. HJ on April 15, 2022 at 11:31 AM

    I think this describes what a lot of people feel on the inside but are afraid or ashamed to express on the outside. And I think you putting this into words does make you brave. I hope you hear the words of God and use them to tune out the voice of the devil. Thank you for sharing these strong words.

  35. Camryn on April 24, 2022 at 3:41 PM

    MH, you are brave for admitting your fears. Writing and communicating your feelings, no matter how confusing they may be, is the first step to understanding and overcoming them. Persist past these difficult times. Use writing to escape the walls you feel stuck in. Never lose your faith.

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  37. Jill on October 16, 2022 at 5:14 PM

    This poem was very powerful and I thank you for sharing your story. Being alone at the age of 12 is very scary and you are brave for coming forward and admitting that you are afraid. By writing these poems can help not only yourself but others as well who may be trying to overcome these fears as well. Your writing in all is truly a gift and I encourage you to keep up the great work!

  38. Stace on October 24, 2022 at 3:43 PM

    I really enjoyed this poem. There is always bravery in authenticity and honesty. Listen to God’s voice and keep writing.

  39. Oshane on October 30, 2022 at 11:25 PM

    You are very brave for expressing that you are afraid of what the future holds. Anger is present within us all whenever we are faced with tough situations that are not going in our favor. Though we try to resist the anger sometimes it comes out and we break. We all try to learn from our mistakes. Stay strong and dont be too hard on yourself.

  40. Emily on December 11, 2022 at 10:19 PM

    You are brave for admitting you are scared. Most people don’t express themselves at home never mind in jail. You are a fighter. The voice in your head saying bad things is not the voice to listen to. There are people who care, even if they don’t show it. While the world around you may be horrible, there is always one person who will miss you. I can say I could be the first. I would miss your writing. You are very talented. I can see that through the way you wrote this poem. It felt as if we were having a conversation, a fine line between formal and casual. You express how you’re feeling in your work as clearly as day. Even if everything goes wrong, grab a pen and some paper. They are the best friends anyone could ask for. Writing is a therapy that almost anyone could do.

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