Poem: “Too Young”

Too Young


Too young to be over DC Jail

But you can’t be afraid

So to stay out of trouble you watch TV and play spades

You try to be cool and protect your space

Because you don’t want to get in a fight and get maced

Too young to smoke

But you are never too young to hope


  1. j on October 22, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Wow! These last two lines really get to me. This whole poem helps me understand better what it must be like to be a juvenile at DC Jail- thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Andrea on October 25, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    I can hear how you’re playing with your rhythms in this piece. I also enjoy how you’ve begun to bring some of what events make up a “day” for the narrator in this piece, bringing in the spades was surprising. Word choices like that begin to resonate for a reader. The TV watching would be expected, the trying to be cool & protecting one’s space would be expected, but playing spades isn’t. Also, the word choice of spades resonates with issues of race as well as card-playing to chase away boredom. It made this reader wonder if hearts would ever / could ever be played.

    The slant rhyme between smoke / hope was also very interesting. I actually enjoyed those sounds more than space / maced. However, the assonance of the long a sounds in afraid / spade / space / mace was actually more effective for me than the rhymes themselves. Those long a sounds added a particular voice to the piece for me.

    For the next draft, consider working on the images, extending some of the shorter lines. Bringing in action, like the card playing, which to the writer could seem a boring activity, is actually a pleasurable aspect of reading. Many readers would not have the experience of what you, the writer, finds ordinary. That’s why people read. They want to jump out of their lives & experience another’s. Another thing you might want to consider in your next draft is moving to two rhyming words in a single line, but leaving the ends unrhymed; or rhyme just lines 1, 4 & 7, then 2&5, 3&6.

    best wishes,

  3. Ali on November 7, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    The last line is amazing. Hope is such a strong word, action, thought…etc. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Krystal on December 3, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    Your words resonate like an old soul. I like the rhythm and tone – and the impact of your conclusion.

  5. Na'Yonna on April 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    This poem will open up many youths eyes to see other things they could do instead of getting in trouble!

  6. Dvaughn on April 13, 2011 at 10:42 AM


  7. kassidilenae on November 17, 2020 at 2:57 PM

    Thank you for sharing this! I can tell you are wise, and I hope you continue to cling to hope no matter your circumstances. As you grow older, fight to do what is right even when what is wrong is much more tempting. Keep writing!


  8. Samantha on January 30, 2021 at 9:24 PM

    “You are never too young to hope”, man, that was AMAZING! It’s so true, you are NEVER too young to hope. Keep pushing through, and doing what you can to get by! I love that poetry has become part of an activity that you can do as well. I love this for you!

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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.