Brick walls, fences, and razor wire criss-crossed in a bind
Feelings overlooked ‘cause remorse is the punishment of crime
No warmth lives here but the wind that chilled
Where it’s a lot of counterfeit ‘cause fake outweigh the real
Not always behind walls and locked doors while doing time
But in the outside world, incarcerated in the mind
Not always what it seems, sometimes a blessing
Only what you make of it, not always unpleasant
A learning experience that’s strongly reckoned with
A chapter of one’s life that’ll never just shift
Forever with you, there all the way to the end
But what will you gain? Strength? Or will you bend?
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The poets featured here are currently incarcerated, and many of them are in federal prisons far from home. Your feedback is a valuable source of motivation and connection to the outside community. Post your comments, feedback, and encouragement in the space below the poem. Messages will be passed on directly to the author. Comments may not appear immediately on the site, as our team processes them to mail to the poets.
I like how your poem holds the answers to your last question “What will you gain?” “Only what you make of it.” Against all the harsh images of walls, fences, and the chill from the wind, your poem seems to show us that the mind is not incarcerated after all. Your poem did not need to be long to be very powerful. Keep writing. Cheers, Gisela
Even from just one poem, I can tell that you are incredibly talented. I hope you continue to use your experiences in your creativity and communication, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
The message you are conveying in this poem is very powerful and insightful.
Wow R.B. this piece gave me chills! You addressed such important issues in such a beautiful way.
I love how you explained your story. You showed but didn’t tell the whole thing which is what I like. Each line I wanted to know more and more. I really enjoyed reading your poem, I like your style.
The poem is really descriptive because the writer uses vivid language. This poem is memorable to me because it help me realize that I should be thankful for the things that I have. The writer strongly emphasizes about determination when he talks about the learning experience. Overall, I think that the writer is experienced when it comes to living.
I hope you gain strength during these difficult times. I love how descriptive the poem is. Thank you for sharing!
Hi R.B.! This was a beautiful piece, thank you for sharing! I found it to be very insightful and eye-opening to the shackles of incarceration that extends past those of walls and physical being. The “Not always behind locked doors..incarcerated in the mind” was my favorite line in the piece. My question for you, is how would you characterize leaving this “incarceration in the mind”. What would the theme of your writing be and what would your inspiration be?
this short poem is so creative and sounds great due to rhymes. It also does a great job on taking its point across. I love the vocabulary and metaphors. great job!
This is super powerful. Thank you! You really explain the experience of living through this. I love the complicated rhyme scheme as well. No critiques!
The imagery you wrote is well written, it definitely brings about the emotions felt during that time of incarceration. What’s really interesting though is that, this can have so many meaning. I also see your poem as a way of being a prisoner of one’s own mind, especially because of the since line where remorse is one’s punishment. I love the meaning of this poem as well, with how the situations that one is in can be seen and felt in different ways.
What I really enjoyed most about your poem is talking about how people that are not even locked up can still be locked up in their minds. How you ended it with will you bend? That hit me. Keep on writing….
Great job writing this poem. This was very rhythmic to read, it felt a little like rap lyrics. The imagery you use is very strong and powerful. You talk about both physical incarceration and being incarcerated in the mind, I think it was very clever to mention both. I like that you pose questions at the end of the poem. You seem to be asking yourself and other incarcerated people what they will learn from the experience and potentially gain from it, which inspires important self-reflection. I hope that you have a bright future ahead, and you can gain strength from the challenges you’ve endured.
Whew, this was powerful. I appreciated how you spoke to not only being physically incarcerated, but also the incarceration of the mind that impacts so many folks. Thank you also for speaking to the grim realities of life in prison, especially when you stated: “Feelings overlooked ‘cause remorse is the punishment of crime”. That line really hit me hard. Thank you for sharing this work with us! Please keep writing and sharing your experience. We all need to hear it!
A Wondering Mind – Aminah Odhabi
Finding a soul within,
Is a declaration of aspiration,
Contradictions of the journey
To be Black or white
Relying on its grey agenda
Ought to be the jester of the system
Vacancy signs of your purpose
Underlined by the Roman rule
Wars of stability to the rest
As their soles are switched now
Underlined by the courtesy of survival
Except there’s nothing to point at
A rough patch for consumption
A past, as a prisoner without walls
At the wake of grace, I left lingering
You’re a resident of your second thoughts
And first subconscious reverberation
At the crack of dawn you promised a change, you’ll brush your hair
As you’ve walked these floors
You’ll stop shivering at Venus
Your state of mind will unclassified
As you’ll manage those steps
With your eyes open
Great poem. I love the ending, but it would be great to see this idea of bending and snapping throughout the whole poem to connect everything. The razors at the beginning would go great with that theme, and I think that’s what you are doing at the end but painting physical imagery of sharp objects/metal/bending throughout the whole poem would be awesome. Loved reading this.
I definitely agree with you that the mind is the greatest prison. As you said what matters is how you see that prison, and what you decide to make out of it. This was an amazing poem. Thank you for sharing it!
Dear RB, nice poem. Love the flow of it. I love the question at the end, it is very thought provoking.
Thank you for sharing this poem. The imagery of various borders – brick walls, razor wire, and fences – really conveys the emotions of isolation that you write about. Your vulnerability is empowering, and your last line of questions really provokes thoughts that I hope to reflect on for some time. I hope you continue writing, and I hope you are doing well.
Hello! I really enjoyed reading your poem, it brought me so many different emotions throughout. I like how towards the end you wrote about how incarceration is a very good but tough learning experience. I also really enjoyed how you ended off the poem. The question at the end really got me thinking about the people that go through incarceration for any amount of time.
I really like the imagery that you use here and your perception of everything that you’re experiencing.
I really like how you described your poem. You really put a lot of feeling and emotion into this one and I cannot thank you enough. I know it may be hard to share what you really feel and that is what writing is all about. I really like how you finished it with a question as well, it has me thinking beyond the poem.
The growth of your experience is apparent and appreciated in this piece. The use of diction makes it much more personable.
This is a beautiful poem. The way the last line is written is so impactful — when I read ‘or will you bend?’ I got goosebumps. Your take on the multiple meanings of incarceration is so on point. I hope that you continue to write and share your perspective — you have great things to say.
RB – Thank you for sharing your poem, it is really powerful. I hope you realize the strength you have gained, because I can see it in your words. I really loved the rhythm of your poem. It feels like it matches your heartbeat and it especially brought your poem to life. Keep on writing!
I admire how R.B. manages to view prison life as simply another opportunity for growth while not shying away from its harsh reality. Lines like “Only what you make of it, not always unpleasant” helped me understand their mindset that they use in order to stay strong through this experience and make it through to the other side. R.B. never dwells too long on the negative aspects of prison that are outside of their control and the fact that they managed to approach a poem with the kind of optimism that’s displayed in final lines gives me hope they’ll continue growing as a person and maybe even continuing to write about these experiences. The second line in the poem: “Feeling’s overlooked ’cause remorse is the punishment for crime” was another example of how D.B. has already been changed for the better not because of his incarceration, but in spite of it. I hope they continue to write and continue to stay resilient.
RB, this is such a powerful poem! You really gave an inside look of what it’s like to be incarcerated that most people will never understand. The last line stuck out to me when you ask what will you gain? Overall this was such a powerful piece that has a unique perspective, keep writing!
RB, the lines: “feelings overlooked cause remorse is the punishment of crime” and “no warmth lives here” pulled me in and gave me an idea of how you feel while incarcerated. I have to commend you on the power of your words! as well as the content. i love how you mentioned the impact of incarceration even outside of prison, the mental cage that keeps you feeling restricted. really powerful poem, please keep it up!
I am at a loss for words after reading your poem, RB. I don’t know what it’s like to be incarcerated, but this really opened my eyes to some of the hardships that you face. I think you are strong for sharing your story through this beautifully written poem and even stronger for holding a somewhat positive outlook despite your experiences. Thank you so much for sharing!
Your poem is extremely touching, and speaks such volumes and speaks so loudly of how it feels for one to be incarcerated. When you say “no warmth lives here” my mind pondered to many things that we people consider “warmth”. Comfort, kindness, love, physical touch, and after considering all of those variables as a form of warmth, I felt sad. Those incarcerated don’t get that treatment, and to sit and really think about it, it ached me. You are so strong and your words are truly so strong, you are simply inspiring. Please keep writing, you touched a soft spot in my heart. Thank you for sharing your creativity and the interpretation of how you feel within those walls.
This was a very well-said summation of the overall mood in prison in addition to the mindset that comes with being incarcerated. This poem allowed someone to see not the physical aspects of prison but a glimpse of the psychological aspects. In addition, I enjoyed the varying perspectives including being in the outside world but incarcerated in the mind. While you are straightforward in your analyses, you counter some points with a sense of optimism which is very enlightening. Time is someone everyone takes for granted and I enjoyed how you acknowledge that one can choose to better themselves or not with that time.
Hey RB, this poem you wrote is so powerful and I am so glad you shared it! I loved your use of imagery, it made your poem come to life and better creates that picture in my head of what you see. While I have never experienced being incarcerated, you opened my eyes to the difficult times you face and I can see your strength. Thank you for sharing this!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I do not know from personal experience the hard realities of what you are going through but you painted a good picture. I also think it shows your strength when you look on the positive side of your experience. Keep up the good work and stay strong!
Hi Im a student at Wayne State University and am in a class that aims to engage with the community beyond the university and corporations. I found your poem to be extremely touching and made me think deeply about life. Ive never faced the hardships you have had, not even anything close but this poem made me feel like I have experienced it and it told such a good story. Really liked it and good job and good luck in the future!
Thank you for your piece. It is very eye-opening and descriptive. I enjoyed how you shifted the poem to looking at the brighter side of things. That can be hard at times, but if you have the right mindset you can get through anything. Your description of the setting as your opening is clever and helped me visualize your piece. The lines “Not always behind walls and locked doors while doing time, But in the outside world, incarcerated in the mind” spoke to me the most. It put me in the shoes of those who are/have been incarcerated and what they are feeling. These people do not feel like they incarcerated while confined in this state, but once they enter the outside world they are reminded of their differences. Thank you again for sharing something so personal.
Your poem was very touching and eye-opening to the world you have been forced to live in. I was impressed by the metaphor of not only being incarcerated physically, but also in your mind. Please keep on sharing, you have a great talent!
Your Poem was very touching and the message is deep. Thank you for sharing this with us and stay strong.
Incarceration is a punishment that you beautifully captured in these words. You showed the upsides, the downsides, the incarceration of the mind, and the incarceration of the body. I felt as if you touched on incarceration changing the mind in your poem as well and I think that you bringing that to light inspires change and insight in the minds of those who may not see it that way. I appreciate that you can inspire those thoughts with your words. You did an amazing job. I can tell you are expressing the feelings of your life while you write and I encourage you to continue to do that.
Hi RB, I love how this poem talks about both physical and mental incarceration. It’s important to recognize that many people are mentally trapped in some way, and how that hinders them. It’s super important to do your best to grow and improve from your experiences, and I like how you pose the question of what you will gain. This is a very powerful poem.
I liked how you talked about not only being physically jailed, but also the mental imprisonment that so many people face. Thank you also for addressing the harsh reality of jail life. Your poem is quite moving. I’m hoping you’re aware of the strength you’ve gained since it’s evident in your statements.
Hey, thank you so much for sharing this. I like how you point out the dark parts, but continue with a good mindset of the learning aspects as well. My favorite line is “Not always behind walls and locked doors while doing time, But in the outside world, incarcerated in the mind.” I reread this line a few times because it spoke to me. There is so much emotion in this poem, and I hope to read more of your work.
Hi RB. I am a student from a community engagement class, and your poem was the first to give an actual experience of what it is like to be in a prison. It takes courage to do what you did. What I learned is that in a prison, you are not always behind bars. I am getting the sense that you can roam around outside to see the walls, but to have your mind incarcerated as well… I guess I can only fear if that ever happens to me. Before I continue I would like to thank you for sharing this with me. I enjoy the rhyme scheme that went along with the poem too. One piece of feedback I have is that I was confused when reading the “where it’s a lot of counterfeit ‘cause fake outweigh the real” line. Perhaps that says more about myself, as I am inexperienced, but I have put quite a bit of thought into it. You are a champion to me. I know that sounds cliche but you still exhibit memories, feelings, powerful thoughts, and it just shows me that your mind is not suppressed, to which I call you a champion.
“Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof,” – Alan Moore
Your poem not only demonstrates your skill as a poet, but also your mental fortitude. The way you are able to create a beautiful piece of art while also commenting on incarceration is very impressive. I loved your use of rhyming, and it really made the piece stand out. Thank you for sharing your story!
Though the poem depicts that the life behind those fences may not be what one wants it also shows that your mind is not incarcerated. This poem allows me to see the hope and remorse that you are feeling. Great job!
this is a beautiful poem about the experience of incarceration. Your comparison between the outside world and prison is very intriguing and right on the mark. Our mind is our greatest tool, and yet our greatest obstacle. Like you said, it is up to you if you gain strength or bend. We must choose for ourselves what will “bend” us and choose how to deal with situations/lessons. Please continue to write because you have such skill and write beautifully.
RB, thank your for sharing this poem!! I have never experienced this but it is very interesting to see the connection of being incarcerated in prison and outside. Thank you for bringing this to my mind.
I think this is an amazing poem. I love that you pointed out the very real hard ships of incarceration, but also showed that it can be very beneficial if you put effort in. I Love the line “ Only what you make of it, not always unpleasant” I love it because it shows that its not all bad and then you can walk away with some lessons learned. I also love the lines “But in the outside world, incarcerated in the min d” I think this shows that you may be free, but your mind may never be. Thank you for sharing
This is a very motivational poem that explains the physical and mental struggles of being incarcerated, but having the strength to get through it. My favorite line is “But what will you gain? Strength? Or will you bend?” This quote sticks out to me so much because it is an everyday question I ask myself when I am struggling. I believe that whatever you are going through, you will gain strength and get through it!
I love the words you chose, and the imagery in this poem is very strong. It paints a very clear picture and helps carry the emotion in the poem. Even though it is short it is very meaningful. I really like the lines “Feelings overlooked ‘cause remorse is the punishment of crime” and “No warmth lives here but the wind that chilled”. I think that those are both powerful lines. I like the way that you write and the rhymes that you chose, and I hope you continue to write!
I think that this poem was absolutely amazing. It showed that you can got through hell, but have a positive mindset while going through it. I can’t imagine what it must be like where you are, but you described it beautifully. I think your last line can relate to a lot of things in life, “will you gain strength or bend?” I think whenever you go through hardships you have the decision of either going through it and staying strong our letting the hardship take you over. I am so glad that you were able to contain strength, it can’t be easy, but if you have a solid foundation nothing can knock you over.