On the Same Page: Coping with a Parent in Prison

Free Minds frequently holds “On the Same Page” events, in which members who have completed their sentences and returned to society – our Poet Ambassadors – share their writing and their stories of personal growth and positive change with the community to prevent violence and demonstrate the power of reading and writing to transcend challenges.

Last week, we held a particularly powerful On the Same Page event with middle school students from Chesapeake, Virginia. We end each On the Same Page with a Toast for Change, during which everyone present shares some way they hope to grow as a result of what we learned together that day. During the Toast, a courageous 13-year-old young woman named KW shared openly for the first time that her own father is incarcerated. Poet Ambassador LaTrae spoke with her after about his own experience and struggle coping with his father being imprisoned, and he shared the feelings of shame and secrecy that touch so many families impacted by incarceration. It served as a powerful example of the connection that comes from sharing ourselves and our stories.

Since the event, KW has written a number of poems to explore her feelings. We are posting them here to share and celebrate her strong voice and to continue creating space for all those touched by incarceration to share their stories, connect, and grow together. Thank you, KW, for your strength, your courage, and your willingness to share!

Through My Eyes
– Through my eyes there was a man
– Known as my Father
– Through my eyes he was the best person in the world
– But that opinion took a big curve
– He made bad decisions
– Thats always how it goes
– He hung out with the wrong people
– Their names still stay unknown
– Through my eyes he deserves to stay in prison
– And i have better wisdom
– To not follow his footsteps
– Because i have eyes that show me
– The best life i could have
– Without a father i love
– The way he tells me he does
Why Put Me Through This?
– I struggle with the pain and suffering everyday
– It hurt so much I ran away
– The letters you send drive me crazy
– Trying not to think of your voice inside my head
– I think of the day I came and saw you
– A barbed wire place I felt I was locked up to
– You came out to the visitors room
– In that tan ugly jumpsuit
– Why put me through this?
– When you know your little girl wants a daddy too
Years Go By Without You
– Daddy this poem is for you
– I know you wont hear it but I will send it to the prison
– Hang it up on your wall
– And the pictures I send of me growing big and tall
– As the years go by without you
I Love You, I Love You Not
– I love you
– Or do i not
– You tell me
– By saying you bought all that stuff
– when you really stole and lied
– That really broke my heart
– Saying you love me or is that a lie to
– You tell me because……
– I love you
– And i think you love me not
– You were there for me
– Thick and thin
– My mother showed me love
– While my father didn’t mean it
– But he made me the greatest person to be
– I show respect for my family
– My step dad is my new father
– Without him i didn’t know how life would be
– Without a father in need
Free Minds
– you’re thinking about this
– you’re thinking about that
– just close your eyes
– take a deep breath
– and you can free your mind
– with just two easy steps


  1. WilderSoul on July 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    I liked this, and three others liked it before me 🙂
    Gave it a five star rating too!
    The way it is laid out as a series of poems works well.

  2. Emily Willard on July 30, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    KW, thank you for sharing your poems – they are full of so much emotion, and you describe them so eloquently. I like the intermittent rhyming, too. You do a good job describing the different emotions pulling at you, between being mad and disappointed at your dad, and loving him. You describe a feeling of betrayal, not know if you can trust what he says is true. I have a strong feeling that your dad loves you, but he just may not show it or say it in the ways that you expect, want, or need.

    This set of poems put together really flows, showing the different layers of your grief, but also your resiliency in this situation. You send strong messages of hope, that others can see as inspiration:
    “- Because i have eyes that show me
    – The best life i could have”
    “But he made me the greatest person to be”

    Please keep writing, I look forward to reading more! – Emily

  3. Shaboom, shaboom on August 9, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    I love the form of these poems: the hyphens are great; always having a feeling of in interruption, of change, of a mind that is ticking down a “to do list”. There is a lot of beauty in the rawness of these poems- the confusion of feelings- the anger, the hurt, the confusion- feel so tangible- and accepting and being able to express these feelings in constructive and direct ways is such a powerful step in healing and taking direction of your own life: i think it’s fantastic!

  4. Joe on August 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    KW, you have such a strong voice! I love the format of your poems and how elegantly each of them juggles multiple emotions, questions, and doubts. It takes a lot of strength to share thoughts this personal. I hope you will keep using writing to work through this and any other challenges that come your way.

  5. R on December 14, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    You have profound wisdom and the courage to speak your truth. Dividing your thoughts into sections made your words all the more impactful. It was as if you took the reader on the journey as you lived it. Keep writing!!

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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.