The Untold Story of Me


Inspired by the book Voces Sin Fronteras (Shout Mouse Press)


1985 I was born in El Salvador, right in the middle of a civil war. There was a lot of crime and poverty, because there were more pressing things for the government to worry about.

1991 A few months after my father left for the United States, my brother was born. Amazing brother. We kept fighting all the time, but he has always been there for me. My friend for life, though he sucks.

2000 We (my brother, my mom and I) came to the U.S. It was hard to get the hang of it (I might argue that I never truly did get the hang of it), but I managed. Life changed dramatically, mostly for the better.

2004 I graduated from high school. It felt like a stepping stone, but continuing education was a bit tricky with my immigration status. Also, that year my other brother (half) was born. I love him tons, as I do the other.

2010 After almost ten years of being in this country, I was allowed to get a residency. My doors opened wide and I started to make money at 8-hours-a-day jobs. Everything looked bright.

2012 A dark cloud came over my bright world. A series of bad decisions in my life led to my arrest this year, effectively destroying absolutely everything that had happened in my life up to this particular point in time.

2017-18 After thinking I had lost my VOICE, along with everything else due to my arrest, I discovered I still have a voice, even if my life as I knew it is effectively over. I discovered this in a Write Night letter, in some person’s comment that read something along the lines of : “A.C., I enjoyed your poem. I relate to [such and such a thing]. I liked [this and that]. Thank you for sharing, please keep writing.” I thought to myself: “People actually read these poems that A CRIMINAL has written? Someone read MY poem?” Not only were they reading it, they were relating. They were getting some sort of consolation from me, knowing that they were not the only people in this world to have these thoughts. That thought. They felt that in a way, my writing was helping them remember/realize that they were, in fact, not alone with their thoughts. “Wait, what? Helping? Me? A freaking criminal actually providing ANY kind of help back to the community that I felt I betrayed by breaking the law? I can help?” And so I push myself to share my thoughts openly/honestly so that people can see my vulnerabilities, and doubts, and regrets, and life lessons. I want people to see and comprehend that the world keeps spinning no matter what, and yes, we all have ups and downs, wins and losses. It’s all part of being human. I want people, all people, to simply see that they are not alone in this human experience. I’m a human too (though I’m an Alien…from another country). That’s why I write life lessons; sometimes the tone/mood is down, sometimes up, sometimes in love, sometimes hurt, sometimes hopeful, sometimes profound…etc. I want to show my human side, I want to show the man hidden behind my inmate #. I want to have a Free Mind.


  1. Maggie Piazza Carroll on April 10, 2019 at 10:08 AM

    “I want people to see and comprehend that the world keeps spinning no matter what, and yes, we all have ups and downs, wins and losses. It’s all part of being human.”

    Thank you for this!

  2. Kayelynn on April 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM


    Thank you for sharing your story! It’s great to see how writing can cross bridges in humanity and helps us realize we have more in common than we thought before. You have a way with words, you’re honest, and you’re not afraid to be vulnerable. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other poems from you!

  3. Sydney on April 23, 2020 at 11:36 PM


    You are not just a criminal, or an alien; you are a person, first and foremost. Anyone who takes the time to look at you will see that, and I hope you surround yourself with those who dare to look. Thank you for being who you are and sharing your story.


  4. Jocelyn Matos on April 28, 2020 at 5:09 PM

    When you are locked up it is hard to maintain the ability to feel like you are apart of the outside world. The only sense of gratitude you will get is by letters sent from home or finding your happy place inside. Keep writing to express yourself. We are here and We are listening.

  5. Sarah S. on August 23, 2020 at 7:28 PM

    “I discovered I still have a voice.” YES you do, and it’s a beautiful, important voice! I think a lot of Free Minds members don’t realize how beneficial their writing is to the people reading it. This is not a one-way street. You are far more than an inmate number; you are a complex human being with important thoughts and experiences to share. I do hope you will keep writing. PS: I have been to El Salvador and it is an amazing country.

  6. N. B. on October 20, 2020 at 5:00 PM

    Wow. AC this piece has left me speechless. I love the creative format with the dates and timeline style. When reading your poem, I FELT from the very beginning. I felt the urgency in 1985, I laughed during 1991 because that’s siblinghood, I felt hopeful for you from 2000 to 2010, and I felt crushed in 2012. But oh boy, 2017-2018 (and I hope 2019 and 2020 too), that is what truly moved me. We all make mistakes in life, and the best people are open to listening about and learning from yours. You’re not identified by the word “criminal.” You are a human being who feels and writes and loves, and you communicated that beautifully through this poem. Thank you so much for sharing, and I hope you will keep on doing so.

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