Mango Tree


Imagine how being in this damn cage
Used to produce a lot of hatred, depression, rage
But 23 and 1 now?
I slow stroke books and savor each page

See, I developed myself to be
Militant minded and scholarly grounded
Maturity, my manhood, Islam….
In jail is where I found it

Forget a rose
I grew a mango tree out of steel and concrete


  1. Ed Jones on June 24, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    I really like some of your language a lot, especially “I slow stroke books and savor each page”–both the slow FEEL of “slow stroke books” and the rhyme at the end of the line. Plus I think the contrast between growing rose and growing a mango tree out of steel and concrete is such a powerful image. I’m just curious why you decided not to have concrete rhyme (though it does pick up the sounds of “tree” and “steel.” I hope to see more of your stuff. Ed

    • freemindsbookclub on July 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      Ed, thanks for continuing to consistently give thoughtful feedback and encouragement – our members definitely appreciate it and love receiving your comments. Thanks again!

      • Ed Jones on July 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        Glad to hear this. It’s the first acknowledgment that my comments have gotten through. Your comment motivates me to continue. BTW, who are you?

  2. Andre Williams on July 2, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    MH, I enjoy how you took the time to turn your life around while imprisoned. You didn’t allow jail to brake you as an individual and grew from your experiences and mistakes you have made in the past, continue to grow.

  3. Mbachur Mbenga on July 2, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    I appreciate every last word of this poem.
    I love that you incorporated your religion into this piece. It shows your strong faith base and that you are hopeful of all things.
    I hope to see more of work MH.


  4. Lila Weitzner on July 2, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    I’ve seen this poem at a Write Night before and the way you describe books still strikes me. As someone who loves to read it feels good to read about someone else who also clearly LOVES books. The imagery at the end is incredibly powerful. You make the reader see the mango tree pushing its way out of the concret and steel. Thanks! I can’t wait to read more.

  5. Andre Williams on July 10, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    MH, Great poem. It is great to hear that you are taking the time in order to grow as an individual and become mature. Continue to write and express yourself through poetry.

  6. Abby T. on July 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    MH, I read this poem at write night and was taken aback by the imagery. It is such a beautiful image – a mango, a colorful and sweet fruit, birthed out of concrete and steel. It sends a message that you will not be put down by your environment. I’m so happy to have read this.

  7. Sarah S on July 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    What can I say that hasn´t already been said in the comments? Amazing poem and stunning imagery- “I slow stroke books and savor each page” as well as
    “I grew a mango tree out of steel and concrete” are my favorite lines; they´re just perfect in the context of your narrative. This is a little poem that packs a big punch, emotionally as well as creatively. It not only shows that you´ve grown a lot, but also that you appreciate how much you´ve matured, and how determined you are to stay on your new path. Keep writing.

  8. Nikayla Kirchner on April 23, 2020 at 5:04 PM

    I absolutely love this poem! I love how you described your journey through depression and into education, almost as if books were your muse through your struggles and experiences. My favorite thing was your allusion to Tupac’s poem “The Rose that Grew from Concrete;” beautiful analogy, and a powerful reference, especially given how Tupac was an artist who rapped about these kinds of things, such as the street life, incarceration, racism, and more. I thank you for your work and your artistic expression.

  9. Jade on September 24, 2022 at 8:57 PM

    This is really good! I like how you take us through your own personal development and the ending “Forget a rose
    I grew a mango tree out of steel and concrete” really helps to visualize that personal growth and how it must have been challenging, but so rewarding.

  10. Oshane on February 5, 2023 at 11:26 PM

    Hi MH,

    Thanks for sharing your poem with us. I like how you say that your life is like a steel and concrete mango tree. This is a powerful metaphor because it shows that even when things are hard, we can still find ways to create something beautiful and meaningful.

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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.