Judged Cover


I’m known on a last name basis
In a place
Where numbers come with faces
Will you ever know me
On a first name basis?
More than the name I mean
I’m more than a criminal, you see
I once had dreams
Skateboarding and BMX competitions
Once an innocent seed
No impediments to my visions
Then came abuse as a child
My ability suddenly in question
A pure heart defiled
Smiles turned into depression
From selfless to selfish
What have I become?
What you consider wrong
Is normal to some
A bitter life prolonged
Is easier said than done
So I became an expression
Of what I felt within
Though innocent were my intentions
My life was filled with sin
Reckless in my behavior
Because I didn’t value self
Putting myself in danger
Was my cry for help
So I cried and I cried
So did my mother every night
While her tears were literal
Mine were more mystical
My actions held a deeper meaning
Preventing others from seeing
And a talented kid from being
All he wanted to be
Crime gave me meaning
And a gang provided safety
Until for my pain
There was no more compensating
It took a precious life
Just to see how precious was mine
It took so many squandered years
For me to value time
It took me all that doing wrong
Just to do what’s right
It took a cell all alone
Just so that I could cry
All you have to do is look on your screen
For you to make judgements about me
But that will never tell you
About the real me


  1. Achal Shah on February 23, 2021 at 12:22 PM

    This was very well written poem! I think this really allowed me to think about who I surround myself with and how the people one surrounds themself with can impact their life.

  2. Ayzhiana Basallo on February 23, 2021 at 7:31 PM

    Wow, this poem was so deep! I got every emotion of this poem and I felt every word. I really liked how deep you dived into this one. You gave examples from your life and you made it relatable to people. You really went within yourself and you did a lot of self-reflecting. The beginning of the poem really made me want to keep reading more and more. I really enjoyed your piece, can’t wait to read more!

  3. shai on February 24, 2021 at 11:04 AM

    MV, this is a really powerful poem! It shows growth and self-reflection, both of which are incredibly positive 🙂 sending my best wishes!

  4. David Liu on February 24, 2021 at 2:25 PM

    Your past does not define you. Other people’s opinions do not define you. The only thing that will define you is how you choose to act. Stay strong!

  5. Fabiola Vega Albino on February 24, 2021 at 11:11 PM

    great poem! it touched my soul I felt every word of it. Keep working like this.

  6. Fabiola Vega Albino on February 24, 2021 at 11:30 PM

    Love the metaphors and figures used. I thing the way this poem is written is very clever and sophisticated. Great work!

  7. Emily Bickel on February 24, 2021 at 11:50 PM

    Beautiful poem, friend. This required a lot of time and thought. This took me through your experience so beautifully – we are too quick to judge people in situations that we don’t understand. i have no critiques for this – super heartfelt and I loved every word. How unfortunate is this circumstance.

  8. Charese on February 25, 2021 at 2:52 AM

    Your emotions are so raw, and bring about such a different perspective about the world and its inhabitants; the wrongdoings that occur and result in circumstances such as your own. It’s such a well-written piece, and I admire your perseverance in all of your experiences. Your use of imagery is not only captivating, but inclusive where it helps to feel what you feeling; it induces sympathy. I love it

  9. sarahpimentel05gmailcom on February 27, 2021 at 10:51 AM

    The first lines of your poem are very powerful to me. I love how you talk about wanting people to know you on a first name basis.

  10. Gisela on February 28, 2021 at 7:10 PM

    Hi MV,
    Your poem makes us see the events in your life through your words. It’s vey powerful, it is very moving. We can feel your mother’s pain, and we can feel your pain. You mentioned that “..all you have to do is to look on your screen for you to make judgments about me, “ To be honest, the way you tell your story, it is hard for me to judge you, all I see through my screen is the suffering of a very wounded person. I can see that you went through a lot and your regret is real. I hope that though your poems you can feel some comfort. Keep writing. Thank you. Gisela

  11. Joyce on March 1, 2021 at 2:14 PM

    Dear MV,

    Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable in this poem. It sounds like you have done a lot of critical and positive self-reflection, and I hope you can love and value yourself now. I hope you are able to overcome the challenges you had to face in your childhood and forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you have made, because it seems like you know now what is right and wrong. This poem is written beautifully, it was really moving. The phrasing and rhymes you used make it flow well, and the story you are sharing is so powerful. You are an amazing writer and this is such an important message. I am wishing you all the best for the future!


  12. James Artis on March 1, 2021 at 2:45 PM

    Keep Writing, Keep Writing, Keep Writing…..This human existence is such a journey. The real you is always bigger than your mistakes. I really like the part about looking in the mirror. Please continue to write so the world can see your greatness.

  13. ken on March 2, 2021 at 1:03 PM

    Wow. This poem is so heart felt and emotional. I can tell that it has real meaning to you and that you are trying to express why you did the things that you did. It was very well written and was very deep. I loved reading it! Keep up the amazing work!!

  14. Casey Engel on March 3, 2021 at 12:42 PM

    You. Matter.

  15. Ayzhiana Basallo on March 3, 2021 at 11:10 PM

    Wow, your poem was so powerful. I loved reading it, it really got into my soul. So much emotion and so much value in it. It was absolutely amazing, I would not change anything about it. Keep being real and keep writing, poems can hold so much value and they are really helpful with getting things off your chest. I loved it, keep writing please!

  16. Gracie on March 5, 2021 at 12:01 PM

    I am an 11th grader sitting in my AP English class, and from the hundreds of classical poems i’ve read, this has, BY FAR, been the most powerful. You truly found your gift- keep nourishing it and keep proving to people that you are more than what meets the eye.

  17. Cameron on March 8, 2021 at 10:24 AM


    Wow, thank you for sharing with us your story. It’s dehumanizing how people will take one look at someone or their actions and make terrible judgements about the person. None of us know what it’s like to live in another person’s shoes, and we have to stop acting like we do! MV, you had so many powerful lines in this poem, but I particularly liked: “So I became an expression/ Of what I felt within” and “Putting myself in danger/ Was my cry for help.” I wish others would realize this, especially educators. Thank you again for sharing!


  18. Varun on March 9, 2021 at 6:28 PM

    I think the poem was good and really hit home the point that people in prison are also people, many of whom have complicated pasts and value their futures

  19. Ean Rogers on March 11, 2021 at 3:44 PM


    This is a really powerful, humanizing, and eye-opening story. It reminds us about the humanity of every person and how everyone has a story. It’s really thought provoking, I can’t stop thinking about it. The growth seen in those last few lines is huge and you can really tell how far you’ve come. I hope the real you is doing well and keeps writing because your story has the power to help people.

    – Ean

  20. Brittani Forman on March 11, 2021 at 4:00 PM

    Dear MV, nice poem! I like the short staccato lines. It helps with the flow of the reading of poem. Nice job

  21. Jill H on March 13, 2021 at 9:45 AM

    You’ve beautifully shared a piece of the real you in this poem – thank you you so much.

  22. Joseph M. on March 14, 2021 at 7:27 PM

    Dear MV,

    Thank you for sharing this poem. The lines that stood out to me most were “It took a cell all alone / Just so that I could cry.” This was so powerful in describing the way that we often feel the need to hide our pain, so that it ends up coming out as anger or destructive actions. It’s powerful that this poem ends up in a place of being able to be vulnerable– to be in touch with “the real me.” Even beyond the powerful message, I enjoyed the way that you told a long, complicated story while incorporating rhyme and rhythm. Thank you for writing & sharing.


  23. Veda on March 15, 2021 at 2:53 PM

    Thank you for sharing this and your vulnerability. It is truly admirable. This poem is just everything. Beautifully written with such an important meaning. Although I have never met you, I felt as if I could see you through this poem. This poem changed my perspective on an aspect of the world–an aspect of the world that I failed to recognize until now. Thank you for teaching me and making me a better human being. My heart goes out to you and I hope that you are able to do things that make you happy. You deserve it. Your poem evokes such emotions for anyone who is reading it and your word choices, the way the lines break, the way the poem itself flows makes it so incredibly powerful. This is amazing. Thank you so much.

  24. Melissa Norwick on March 23, 2021 at 1:06 PM


    This was one of the BEST poems I️ have ever read! Your words were powerful! You were able to express yourself and share apart of your life where most others tend to shy away. I️ think your poem is easily relatable to many other youth individuals. People who have been where you have been or feel the same things you have felt. Many people who can relate to this poem might read it and decide to change their path before it is too late. You are changing lives! The way you reflected back on your choices and wrote about how that has impacted your life shows growth. You are more than a last name or a number. You are someones child, friend, or loved one. Keep writing because you have a true talent. I️ wish you the best. -MN

  25. Derek H. on March 25, 2021 at 4:44 PM

    Wow what an insightful poem! It is so important that we take time to get know individuals on a deeper level and don’t let biases interfere with the way we treat others. Thanks for sharing, this changed my day!

  26. Joe Fargo on March 25, 2021 at 10:21 PM

    Dear MV,

    Thank you for sharing this poem. The emotions you convey and the rhythm you use to show them make your poem so powerful. I empathize with you, and I hope you continue writing.

    Best wishes,
    – Joe

  27. Samantha on March 26, 2021 at 4:36 PM


    This was such a vulnerable, powerful poem. You took us on a journey of self-reflection, hope, pain and suffering, and yet, you showed us how you still see a light at the end of the tunnel. This was beautiful, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.



  28. Emily on March 27, 2021 at 6:32 PM

    This is a great glimpse into your emotions and it’s incredibly powerful.

  29. Sawyer S on March 29, 2021 at 2:10 PM

    thank you for sharing so much of yourself in this poem. its beautiful. please never stop writing! I hope it’s helping you find some solace. Sending you love and light!

  30. Alivia on March 30, 2021 at 12:26 PM

    This poem is so eye opening, it makes me really think about what went on in your life prior to where you are now. I like how well this poem appeals to emotion. Also the part where a few lines rhyme make it even better!

  31. Eileen on March 30, 2021 at 6:41 PM

    Hello MV,

    I admire this realization of yours that people may look at you but never see the real you. I think you are a very gifted writer and have a strong ability for introspection. I think you have realized something important that the judgement people pass on you based on your actions does not define you. You are simply a human being reacting to your desire to survive and be heard, just like anyone else

  32. AYDEN JOZWIK on April 1, 2021 at 5:52 PM

    MV has a real talent for being able to write rhymes and themes in such a truthful manner. Reading this I felt like they laid everything out on the table about who they are, who they were, and who they hoped to be before getting into trouble. The fact that MV is so honest about themselves is why that first and last line of the poem was so potent for me. Since they have gotten into trouble they’ve been forced to take on a new identity which strips them of their ability to stay true to themselves or be judged fairly by society at large. MV is honest about how they didn’t fully realize the importance of the time and freedom they had until after they were put behind bars. I hope MV is able to use their experiences to keep writing because they are really talented at it and it seems like it has given them at least some form of release since as they mentioned they will forever be judged unfairly because of past circumstances outside of their control that contributed to their current incarceration. Writing seems to give them a chance to reclaim their identity and so I hope they don’t stop.

  33. Talib Williams on April 2, 2021 at 12:22 AM

    This was really well crafted. I read every line as if I was truly there by your side throughout your life. And even though I may never know you in person I feel reading this poem gives me a better perception of the real you. Great work

  34. Kylie on April 2, 2021 at 2:32 PM

    Hi MV, it’s ironic that in a poem that is so much about identity and the power of names that I have to start my comment with only your initials. I found your piece to be incredibly moving and well written. It has a natural rhythm to it that works beautifully and your use of alliteration throughout shows natural poetic instincts. The unconventional mix of rhyming on non rhyming lines really helps to convey a stream of consciousness feel to the piece that works really well for what is, at its core, a meditation on identity. I particularly loved the way you used literal and mystical when discussing the tears of yourself and your mother. Keep up the excellent work and keep playing around with rhyme structures to find your best mode of expression. Overall, really great work!

  35. Aprile on April 3, 2021 at 11:58 AM

    Hi MV, thank you so much for writing this poem. This is truly incredible, and I wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences so eloquently in this form. I am thankful that Free Minds gives us the opportunity to learn about you, your past, and your present. You explained so much about how being a criminal is so commonly associated with immediate judgement, and I am sorry that you face such a connotation. I believe everyone truly is a good person and that all can learn from their past experiences to become better. I am working to advocate for you through promoting Free Minds events. You are clearly a very talented writer, and I hope to read more from you in the future. Wishing you the best in all that you do.

  36. maggie on April 4, 2021 at 8:46 PM

    This poem was very deep and very well written. Thank you for sharing and I really liked the story behind this

  37. Ava on April 6, 2021 at 2:59 PM

    your poem is a work of art. I love all of the intricacies of the rhythm that you placed throughout the piece, the compelling word choices, the boldness to be personal and not back away from the hard truths that you have learned. you have a beautiful story to tell and I am grateful that I came across your piece!

  38. Soy on April 7, 2021 at 10:53 AM

    MV, I can’t thank you enough for sharing so much of yourself and your experiences in this poem. I know you’ve dealt with people making assumptions and judging you for so long, so thank you for being vulnerable here. While I may also never know the real you, I think I’m getting insight into who you are on the inside from this poem; you can see your passion, pain, and determination through these lines. You’re so strong! You’ve been through so much and you can only get stronger from here. Thank you again. Your poem and your story will stick with me.

  39. Nicole Burkoski on April 9, 2021 at 8:48 AM

    Judged Cover by MV- This one of the most moving poems I have ever read and it gave me only a glimpse into a life that I have not lived but moved me like I knew this person. When he goes into detail about the loss of his innocence the poem shifts to a tone of sadness more than regret. He has not only owned his mistakes but his poem shows how he has analyzed those mistakes. This poem shows not what he was thinking throughout those mistakes but how he felt and what those actions symbolized. The way he describes taking a life in order to value his own is extremely impactful as the poet realizes the value of time. Absolutely amazing!

  40. Lauren G on April 12, 2021 at 4:58 PM

    This poem is very meaningful. I really like the use of your title here which provides a great context about the poem. It really reminds you that you have no idea what else is going on in someone’s life under the surface. I also like the point of how a lot of aspects of our lives can be taken for granted such as time and dreams. I really enjoyed this poem.

  41. Callie Cloran on April 13, 2021 at 11:15 AM

    Wow thank you for sharing your words. They are powerful and I believe that the real you is worthy of being known. I can’t imagine the hurt you have endured. You are a gifted writer good job!

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