Trust the Rusted Chains


Herringbones those were on me, my ignorant a** wanted big gold ropes
DNA slave mentality
15 handcuffs, 17 add shackles for a Lifetime
Airplanes, ankles and wrist pain, swollen rivers my blood thickens in my eye
I see George waiting patiently for me, why Soledad Brother?
Milk crates full of chains, ominous black boxes by us for us
Belly chains pulled tight in Lewisburg basement all night
Summertime lights on all night
On Henry Hill, man them crackers a tear you up
Hot pipes and gas that they’ll swear don’t exist
Stop fightin’, an inside joke, you been there, then u know
Rogers, he the worst of the bunch
BANG! Rip up your family pictures etc.
From it he gets so much pleasure
3 minute shower in a cage
Fools rappin’ all day, 3 in the mornin’ monkey play
What would George say …about them planting razors when they shake you down
Because police got killed in D town
Day one, phase one. we call it
You know if you been there to Henry Hill
The Big House, where they throw everything important away
And lie on they mama with a straight face
Throw you downstairs when they feel like it
In E block the early smell coming up from the laundry is the only thing that calmed me
At night, I chased stars like the way when we was little with cars
B block cells so lil’ with big bugs, gas on all the books
Lay on the floor at night to breathe, dreams with the bugs
Feeding the birds in my window, wishing I too could fly
I do that a lot
If you been to Henry Hill then u know how I feel about chains


  1. Lauren Blanchard on January 13, 2021 at 2:37 PM

    Your poem is insightful and articulated in a way that kept me on the edge of my seat. I appreciate your transparency. You transported me to a place I’ve never been before. You made me think. You taught me new things. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve got people listening!

  2. Joyce on January 15, 2021 at 2:26 PM

    Dear JA,

    This was such an interesting poem, almost like song lyrics or a rap. It has such a unique rhythm. You are so talented. There is such powerful imagery in this poem. I’m don’t think I can understand the story since I haven’t experienced it, but the reader is able to tell that you are remembering a vivid experience and conveying strong feelings and emotions. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable. Amazing work!


  3. Virginia B on January 17, 2021 at 10:29 PM

    I like the way you share so many different vivid images. It really paints a picture of the experience and the people, smells, and sounds. And then I like how the speaker only describes what is going on, but also shares how they feel about it. I was especially drawn to the lines “In E block the early smell coming up from the laundry is the only thing that calmed me,” “Lay on the floor at night to breathe, dreams with the bugs/ Feeding the birds in my window, wishing I too could fly,” and “If you been to Henry Hill then u know how I feel about chains” There are so many really interesting details in this poem. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Johnny on January 18, 2021 at 9:57 AM

    Hey JA,

    Thanks for sharing your poetry. I got the inside joke. After you mention it, I did hear that more than I realized. Keep your head up and I hope that you keep writing.

    God bless,


  5. Jordan on January 18, 2021 at 10:03 AM

    Hi JA!
    I really enjoyed reading your poem! The emotions were raw and I could truly feel the experience and vast array of emotions that you were trying to convey in your poem. Your wonderful use of descriptive language and imagery kept me hooked the entire time! Keep up the great work!

  6. Mary B on January 18, 2021 at 11:16 AM

    Great work! My favorite line of the piece was “At night, I chased stars like the way when we was little with cars.” Keep up the great writing!!

  7. Gabrielle Cascio on January 18, 2021 at 4:24 PM

    Hi JA,

    Thank you so much for sharing this poem. Your word choices are incredibly descriptive and vivid. My favorite line is: “At night, I chased stars like the way when we was little with cars”; I love the rhyme and the image it provokes! I hope to read more of your work in the future!


  8. Cameron on January 20, 2021 at 1:00 PM


    You have such powerful imagery here. You’re writing has a great flow, and because of that, I felt like I was at the edge of my seat, wanting to read more. I am very privileged in that I have not experienced what you have experienced, but I want to thank you for opening up about your experiences and struggle—I think this will make you even stronger. I’m excited to read more of your work! Keep on writing!


  9. Bridget on January 21, 2021 at 2:18 PM


    Thank you for sharing your writing. This poem really drew me in and made me want to keep reading. I appreciated all the imagery and emotions. Keep writing!

  10. Osman Jelani on January 28, 2021 at 2:57 PM

    I feel like I was right there with you in Henry Town. I felt like I was chained up too. Your words are powerful and you’re a great story teller. I feel like if this had a beat to it it would make a great song. I appreciate it.

  11. Gisela on January 30, 2021 at 4:06 PM

    Hi JA,
    Henry Hill sounds like a horrible place. They may rip up your family pictures, they may push you downstairs and take important things from you, but they cannot take your mind away, your sense of calm with the laundry smell, the stars from the sky, and the birds from your window. You fly through your mind and through your poems. Thank you for sharing. Gisela

  12. Kahliya Zykia Ruffin on February 10, 2021 at 11:14 AM

    The detail and the suspicion of this poem is great. It leaves me wondering as if I am reading a book.

  13. Emily Bickel on February 24, 2021 at 11:59 PM

    “Dna slave mentality” cut me deep! Handcuffs really are likes shackles for a lifetime. This poem is really important. Maybe decrease the stanza length a bit to help the whole thing to flow a bit more?

  14. Joe Fargo on March 25, 2021 at 11:09 PM

    Dear JA,

    Thank you for sharing this poem. Your amazing use of imagery is vivid and kept me on the edge of my seat. I hope you continue writing, as I’d love to see you soar like those birds from your window.

    Best wishes,
    – Joe

  15. Brittani Forman on April 7, 2021 at 3:15 PM

    Hey JA
    Very nice poem! Very insightful and filling

  16. Aracelli on May 3, 2021 at 9:02 PM

    Hi JA,

    This poem holds lots of powerful imagery and emotion. There’s a lot of specific references that make the events in this poem especially powerful. I also like the unique rhythm and rhyme. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Billie Marcheva on May 6, 2021 at 11:26 PM

    Hi JA,

    Living through this must have made you build up so much strength. Adversity changes a person. It can be hard to keep pushing yourself to feel fine and put up with all of it day in and day out. I hope you find a way to be compassionate with yourself and respect how you’re feeling through the thick of things. I hope poetry helps you process all of this and more. I really appreciate you sharing because I love reading your work.
    Sending you love.

  18. Meghan on November 20, 2021 at 10:29 PM

    Hello JA,

    My name is Meghan, I’m a senior in college and currently taking an English class that aims to engage with the community beyond our university. Thank you for sharing your poem. Your words create such a vivid story. It depicts the heaviness you’ve experienced, but it also shows the moments that bring you peace, like the smell of fresh laundry in the early morning. I found myself reading it multiple times as it is truly a powerful piece. I hope you continue writing, your words are important and should be read by many!


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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.