Surrounded by concrete walls.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude.
Surrounded by concrete walls that don’t distance me from reality.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one dreams – that are kept away in prison cells.

Rodeado por paredes de concreto.
Rodeado por un inmenso sentimiento de soledad.
Rodeado por paredes de concreto que no me alejan de la realidad.
Rodeado de uno-y-mil sueños frustrados – que en celdas de prisión están aguardados.

Surrounded by concrete walls.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude; that attacks my thoughts.
Surrounded by concrete walls, surrounded by a strange feeling that starts playing inside my head.
Surrounded by concrete walls, where you only hear the voice of solitude; that sings to my heart to the slow beat of a tormented heart.
We keep on walking through the valley of solitude.

Rodeado por paredes de concreto.
Rodeado de un inmenso sentimiento de soledad; que ataca a mis pensamientos.
Rodeado por paredes de concreto dentro de rodeado por extraño sentimiento que comienza a jugar dentro de mi cabeza. Rodeado de paredes de concreto donde lo único que se escucha es la voz de la soledad; que le canta a mi corazón al ritmo lento de un corazón atormentado. Seguimos caminando por el valle de la soledad.

Surrounded by concrete walls.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one problems.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude, that flirts with my heart in the darkness of the night; and it invites to dance to the slow beat of a tormented heart. We keep on traveling the most traveled road.
“The road of forgotten.”

Rodeado por paredes de concreto.
Rodeado de uno y mil problemas.
Rodeado de un inmenso sentimiento de soledad, que le coquetea a mi corazón en la obscuridad de la noche, y lo invita a bailar al ritmo lento de un corazón atormentado.
Seguimos caminando, recorriendo la calle más transitada “la calle del olvido.”

Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude.
Surrounded by concrete walls, where the voice of solitude is the only thing you hear.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one memories of the past.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one frustrated dreams — that are trapped in prison cells.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude, that attacks my thoughts.
We keep walking through the valley of solitude.

Rodeado de un inmenso sentimiento de soledad.
Rodeado de paredes de concreto, donde la voz de la soledad es lo único que se escucha.
Rodeado de uno y mil recuerdos del pasado.
Rodeado de uno y mil sueños frustrados que en celdas de prisión están atrapados.
Rodeado de una inmensa soledad, que ataca mis pensamientos.
Seguimos caminando por el valle de la soledad.


  1. Yesica Benitez on April 27, 2020 at 1:06 PM


    I often think that I am surrounded by walls as well. Although my walls are not physically present and I am free to go wherever I please to go, I still feel trapped in a sense. I do have a feeling of solitude, a feeling that no matter how surrounded I am with people, I will always be alone in this world. I feel like even though there are a million people out there constantly making contact with me, that I will never really want to let them into my life because I have a wall in front of me. I feel like I build my own walls. It would be nice to let the walls down for a while, but I am too stubborn to let others in. I build many walls around me, and I do feel alone. Although I can’t imagine what it’s like to have concrete walls around me 24/7 I do feel connected to you in such a way that I know what it’s like to feel trapped. I loved your poem and I felt such a connection to your words.

  2. Sarah on April 28, 2020 at 3:42 PM

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully lyrical poem! The degree of surrounding solitude you’re feeling is intense and I can feel a small portion of it through the imagery in your words. I want to also surround you with support from the Free Minds community, I know it may be hard to feel because of the distance, but we are here! Please continue to create and share your beautiful work!

  3. Jocelyn Matos on April 28, 2020 at 6:57 PM

    I see you took allot of time in this. You are bi lingual! Great skill to have in this world. I hope your days get better day by day. Solitude can be used in many positive ways.

  4. LesleyB. on April 29, 2020 at 2:34 AM

    This poem shows the person longing for time outside. It captures the mind that is wandering about the past memories and how they remember their memories and dreams from their past. It seems that this person is trapped inside their own mind and physically. Great poem. This really speaks to the injustices that are happening right now with immigrants being locked up in cells and quarantined. Gracias.

  5. Katie on May 1, 2020 at 11:52 AM

    I really enjoyed reading your poem. I think utilizing the repetition of “Surrounded by concrete walls” is a really great way to start each stanza. Your themes are apparent and strong. I hope you continue to write with so much power.

  6. Michaela on May 1, 2020 at 11:54 AM

    I thought that your poem was very moving and I appreciated that you wrote in Spanish and English. I am so empowered by your work and your ability to harness your feelings into such a beautiful piece of poetry. Your words are touching and I hope that my comment can help you a bit with your feelings of solitude, you have me cheering for you and I’m sure so many people that are proud of your work on this piece.

  7. Haley on May 1, 2020 at 12:00 PM

    This is such a powerful piece. The feeling of solitude is one that I think a lot can relate to…especially now with so many people under quarantine with COVID. You do an incredible job portraying what you are going through and relating to the readers

  8. Jenny Ulehla on May 1, 2020 at 12:03 PM

    This is very moving LV. Keep reading and writing. It will help light the way. JU

  9. Isobel on May 1, 2020 at 12:13 PM

    Hi LV,
    I loved the repetition of “Surrounded” as it drew me in emotionally and is a great element of poetry. In your solitude, I hope you know I am thinking of you. I hope you continue to use poetry as an outlet. Stay strong and I hope to see more poems from you!

  10. Kayelynn on May 3, 2020 at 4:12 PM


    Very heart wrenching piece. You give the readers an intimate view into your thoughts and emotions, it’s eye-opening to learn more about what incarcerated people feel and experience. I enjoyed how you also translated each stanza into Spanish, which can expand your readership past those of us that only speak English. Great writing and I believe that you’ll overcome the difficulties you’re facing!

  11. Patricia on May 5, 2020 at 11:18 AM

    I thought this poem was absolutely beautiful. I especially loved how after every verse you repeated the verse in Spanish. I think that shows how intelligent and capable you are. Thank you for allowing me to read this, I was touched by your honesty and vulnerability.

  12. Bonnie Dorsey on May 6, 2020 at 11:32 AM

    Your poem “Surrounded,” with its repetition of sounds and words and ideas, successfully portrays the mental pain and loneliness of incarceration. I was especially intrigued by the way you constructed the poem, layering an English verse above a Spanish one, then back to English. Not only does it add dimension to the total poem, but it is helpful for someone with just a little Spanish and gives the opportunity to learn more of the language by seeing how each English line is translated into Spanish.
    Finally, many of your images—e.g., “solitude that flirts with my heart,” and “traveling the most traveled road,” give the poem a meaningful personal signature, one hard to imitate.

  13. Ellen on May 7, 2020 at 4:50 PM

    Hello, LV–I really like how this poem is in two languages, making it accessible to even more people.
    These lines are such a powerful twist on Frost’s lines about the road less traveled:
    We keep on traveling the most traveled road.
    “The road of forgotten.”

  14. Carlos Guzman on May 8, 2020 at 3:05 AM

    To LV,
    After reading your poem I cannot help but to have an immense feeling sadness for the way you are feeling inside those concrete walls, as you stated in your well-versed poem. Your writing skills impress me because you are able to evoke feeling into it and it is something a lot of people cannot do. I envisioned myself in your place and I cannot help but to feel bad for the way you are feeling inside! Living in incarceration must be such a horror and nightmare, I cannot imagine what you are going through.

    I really liked how your poem is in both Spanish and English because it is really great to see you are fluent in both languages. One theme I found hard to miss in your poem is of solitude, feeling alone and in the darkness. It is a very powerful feeling and one which many people cannot experience. When you mentioned “We keep walking through the valley of solitude” is a great example of being able to paint a picture figuratively for the reader because I actually visioned myself walking through a deep gorge, a place where I would my wildest nightmares and monsters live.

    However, as I walked through this gorge I saw light at the end of it, almost as if this valley of solitude is a test and those who remained focus to succeed will see the light at the end of the tunnel once again. Just know, hope is always around the corner and you must remain positive in a better tomorrow, as humans hope is all we have sometimes. I don’t know if your religious, but my mother always taught me when I feel beaten or alone, to pray to God because he is always right by our sides. Don’t give up on yourself and remain faithful things will always get better at the end of the day. I truly believe in second chances, and I am confident you will be happy once again.

    I also like your verse “…that flirts with my heart in the darkness of the night; and invites to dance to the slow beat of a tormented heart.” I mean… this is so powerful and thought provoking. You can definitely feel how beaten in silence you may be feeling. Great use of metaphoric language to describe, not matter what you do being in jail brings loneliness and it is unescapable. It is like you have a new relationship with loneliness. Very great writing! seriously, congratulations. My heart felt to the floor when I read this.

    I am writing this letter to you because I am a graduating senior at San Jose State University and of my course requires for us to reach out to those in our communities, to engage and motivate! I know you are limited given your circumstances, but if there is anything I wish you take away from this letter is to remain hopeful and to continue to write poems! Your experiences and stories can be used to help others in need. You have a very powerful skill to evoke feeling through writing, it is truly very special. I hope nothing but the best and I am sending you positive vibes, I hope you see happiness soon!


  15. Ray Ryan on May 10, 2020 at 3:01 AM

    I really like your use of repetition and I sympathize with your situation and hope the best for you!! Sometimes the road of the forgotten can just be the road less traveled but I wish you the best and like your poetry! It’s quite heartfelt.

  16. Freddy on May 11, 2020 at 5:01 PM


    I hope that you’re healthy and well during these turbulent times. Your poem was touching and I am so sorry that you are feeling a solitude that no human being, especially no human being your age, should feel. Your writing is beautiful and I hope you find some solace in your strength of mind and in your writing.
    There are people who care about fixing the cruelty of our penal system and who are fighting for your rights. I hope that one day you are able to walk out, and no longer be imprisoned by four walls, but instead be filled with love from people that care about you. Thank you for letting us see your work and sharing a piece of you with us.

  17. Catherine on June 23, 2020 at 8:06 AM

    My initial thought when reading this poem is I appreciate the back-and-forth translations between English and Spanish, which, to me, demonstrates the uniquely human experience that those across cultures and languages share of being alone only with their own thoughts.

    After reading this a few times, my overall impression is this is a powerful poem which speaks to the struggles and experience of being alone, constantly. This poem reminds me of all the times where I have felt helplessly alone, but I also encourage anyone to find the voice of positivity and recognize that no one is truly alone.

    I feel your emotions and feelings of solitude/isolation through every word. Your poem is so powerful, and I encourage you to continue to express your thoughts and feelings. I have had family and loved ones in prison and I know it can be lonely. Physically you may be separated and in solidity, but don’t let these circumstances define you. I want to continue reading your work, of how you redefine your dreams, and walk forward through the solitude. I hear you and see you and you are not alone. I wish you nothing but love and peace.

  18. JM on November 6, 2020 at 10:55 AM

    Dear LV,

    This poem was so well written and full of references that really communicated the experience of being trapped in solitude. Your references to “one thousand and one” reminded me of The Arabian Nights and your reference to the valley of solitude reminded me of the Biblical passage– I can tell you have a lot of literary knowledge that makes your poem even richer in meaning. I also really liked the way that you compared the solitude to a relationship. Even though you were communicating an experience of being trapped and alone, there was a sense of being surrounded– by memories, thoughts, dreams, and yearnings– that made the solitude feel a little bit less lonely. I also really enjoyed being able to read each verse in English and Spanish and to feel the ways that using a different language can make the poem more musical and rhythmic. I haven’t practiced my Spanish in a long time but was happy to realize how much I recognized! Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem.


  19. ken on December 17, 2020 at 9:41 AM

    This is such a powerful poem. I can tell you really took time to write this and explain what you are feeling! Keep on writing so you are able to express your feelings because you are so good at it. I also love the repeating parts to your poem! All in all you did an amazing job! Keep it up!

  20. Oshane on December 15, 2022 at 5:37 PM

    Hi LV,

    Very good poem. I Like your usage of repetition on the words surrounded and solitude to express how you feel as well as adding the twist to it in Spanish. We all at times feel like we are surrounded by emptiness but know things will get better. I look forward to hearing more from 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.