Untitled (I Wake)


I wake
to the sun rising in the East
the rays burning my eyes
as I shake off the sleep

My first vision is bars
before a screen and a half open window
beyond that is cages
a gun tower and twenty foot wall

Then I see something else, everyday
that should give hope to all
High upon a pole. It waves at me
Sometimes to the East, sometimes to the West

Surrounded by blue skies and white clouds
Both symbols of freedom
Both symbols of life
Today I feel neither, tomorrow will be the same

I am of the world, but not in it
So I stare out the window and wonder, WHEN
When will I live my life in this manner
Of life, of liberty and the pursuit of happiness

WHEN, I ponder as I look at the star spangled banner


  1. Reid Baron on September 13, 2017 at 2:48 PM

    I like the attachment of the flag to what it is supposed to stand for. Sad, and well-done.

  2. Sadie Davis on October 6, 2017 at 6:52 PM

    Hello, LC
    The imagery in your poem is very powerful and gives me a sense of place. I would love to read more of your descriptions of your surroundings and your daily life and your imagination. You are not forgotten. Many of us are with you, working from the outside to make our justice system more just and to help people find the resources they need as children so that they have better lives and more options. I hope you will keep writing and sharing your observations and know that we are thinking of you. I am hoping that you will find some peace of mind each day through your creativity.

  3. Kate Bulger on October 9, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    I love the images you created in this poem. You walk a very delicate line between hope and despair– and it is lovely. Good luck and keep writing and having hope! Thank you for this poem!

  4. cabinsikkim on October 24, 2017 at 8:36 AM

    nice one sir.

  5. Jonathan on November 6, 2017 at 8:20 AM

    Such awareness at the dawn’s early light! And a vivid reply to Francis Scott Key’s verses about our flag. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sara on November 6, 2017 at 10:39 AM

    Hi LC,

    Thanks for sharing this poem. The first thing that I notice is your strong command of imagery. Your vivid descriptions allow readers to feel that they are experiencing something through your eyes and that really connects me to the poem. I love the way you describe the flag as something that should give hope, that waves – all without naming it as a flag. The statement “I am of the world, but not in it” works to bring together this idea of “The American Dream” that is so starkly contrasted with the feeling of injustice. Ending with the image of the star spangled banner also invites readers to think about their own citizenship and feelings toward America. Thank you again!

  7. Margot on April 13, 2018 at 10:53 AM

    Your poem has excellent rhythm and imagery.

  8. Sydney on April 24, 2020 at 1:40 PM


    The struggle you describe in this poem is something that I think can apply to a lot of people in America—certainly among the rising number of those incarcerated, but also among those on the outside. It’s impossible—even irresponsible—not to see the injustice that goes on daily in this country, but many of us still find hope in the ideals that America is /supposed/ to be guided by. Sometimes it feels like a cruel joke, listening to the national anthem or reading some of the founding documents that talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Despite this, despite being told its unpatriotic to question the past or to protests in the present, I feel that the greatest form of patriotism is to push for change. To hold America to its own standards. To refuse ignore oppression and to build a country that serves and honors ALL of its inhabitants.

    I really enjoyed your poem, and I hope you continue to write about the grey area between—as another one of the other comments here says—hope and despair. Because that’s where life is truly found.


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