Tryna Make a Change

This poem was written collaboratively by youth being held at the Youth Services Center (YSC) during a Free Minds “On the Same Page” outreach event.

Tryna make a change—stay focused ‘n out the way

Tryna make a change outta 15 cent
Tryna make a change by being patient
Because if not dat, da mentality remains
All or nothin’
 
Tryna be successful to make a change
Goin’ to school and following the rules
Stop smokin’ before I start choking
Tryna make a change so I can better myself
                                
Tryna to make a change for me and my family but mostly me
Because I say family first
Making a change—I’m going to stay out the streets
Stop smoking tree
And start thinking ‘bout my family before I do dumb stuff
 
Trying to make a change in the way I live
Trying to make a change by not repeating the cycle
Trying to make a change because there’s another way to make a dollar
 
Trying to make a change
Maturing intelligent young men to see their true potential
Trying to make a change in the way I think
Trying to make a change in this creative world
 
Tryna make a change
Because I don’t want to be the same
All my black people dying
I know our mothers tired of crying
Trying to make a change but it’s hard
Get locked up get released
This stuff feel like a circle
Calling out their friend
Talking about how they blowing on purple
I love my friends like a brother
But I can’t keep going in this circle

5 Comments

  1. Sarah on February 11, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    I think this is a great poem but the last stanza is by far my favorite because I feel like it is able to sum up everything that the poem is saying about the cycle of drugs and incarceration, the effect that this has on people close to you, and how difficult it is to break out of the cycle. “But I can’t keep going in this circle” is a powerful last line and a perfect way to end the poem. The contrast between the authors (“maturing intelligent young men to see their true potential”) and their old friends (“talking about how they blowing on purple”) really saddens me and I think starkly points out the frustrations and difficulties of starting a new life and making better decisions. I’d love to see more collaborative poems.

  2. wanderingendlessly on February 11, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Truly moving! Great work! I’d love to be able to pass this on to my blog readers if that would be alright?

    • freemindsbookclub on February 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      Absolutely! We love to have our poems shared – we just ask that you link back to the Free Minds blog so that your readers can come look around and give feedback we can send to the writers. Thanks so much for your interest and your comments!

  3. Ed Jones on February 13, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    I agree with Sarah. The last stanza hit me the most. But throughout I liked the repetition (“Tryna…” Also, I liked it when the poem used details that connected to me on a gut level, like “Tryna make a change outta 15 cent” and “Calling out their friend / Talking about how they blowing on purple.”

  4. wanderingendlessly on February 14, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Reblogged this on Families and Friends of Inmates and commented:
    FREE MINDS empowers young inmates to write new chapters in their lives.

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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.