Who Would Know?


Who would know I got my mind right?
It’s obvious that at home I was blind
But who would know I got my eye sight.
I have an L plus 50
Which means they want me to be locked up beyond life.
The food is so bad, you don’t want to know
What I would do for a Klondike.
Most guys finish school in here
They will never get to have a prom night.
I know you could give a lot of these guys another chance
But who would know that I’m right?

The case manager and parole board only sit down with you
Long enough to count to 5 twice.
So who would know if someone’s a different man
Or if that person wants to do and be better than?
Those that have that job
Don’t seem that interested in giving a second chance
They know they’re going to deny you before you enter the room.
They won’t even give your case a second glance.
You stay up all night, thinking about what you’re going to say
Just for them to give you that
Come-back-in-5-years dance.

I pray to GOD I make it out of here with my sanity
While my mind is clear and advanced.
But who would know?
I’m stuck in a live-right-and-positive-everything trance
Instead they judge you
Off of the vibe of everything past
And their excuse is to say
You haven’t changed, you have everything masked.
I realized now that they throw some of us in here
And want us to remain trashed
And that some people don’t care
That I’m a changed man
The fact is I had a chance

Maybe my first was my last.


  1. Kayla Rogers on June 10, 2022 at 4:24 PM

    Wow. This was such a moving piece. To make the reader be able to feel and visualize what you are going through. You have so much talent. Please never stop writing and never stop expressing your feelings.

  2. KC on July 28, 2022 at 1:06 PM


    Your words are powerful. I can feel your desire to do good contrasted by those that look down on you. Your last 2 lines give me chills, “The fact I had a chance, Maybe my first was my last.” I believe in your conviction. Keep writing!


  3. Mike on July 31, 2022 at 9:50 PM

    Powerful poem, JH. Keep writing, regardless of the judgements of others, one’s ability to change their own internal mind and eyesight is a feat of humanity. Your poem brings this out in a way that could inspire others.

  4. Olivia on October 10, 2022 at 1:47 PM

    I thought you were very clever with the way you were rhyming, and it flowed pretty nice. It seems as though you were taking accountability for what happened back home, but now you are ready to change and be better. They judge you on your past but all you want is a second chance. I can almost feel your pain of wanting to be heard and seen as someone who has made that change and someone who is ready to work and get back in the swing of things, so I bet that can be pretty frustrating for you, but all you can do is keep trying. Great poem.

  5. Dhara Patel on October 17, 2022 at 7:49 AM

    Really great poem! The use of words and the way you described each concept flows really well. Having a chance in life without being judged is really important these days because someone is always watching.

  6. Ainsley on November 3, 2022 at 10:22 AM

    Hi JH,
    This poem is so well written! Your message about our system and the way it operates is very powerful. The lines about case managers and parole boards not caring about their job and always denying second chances is frustrating to read, especially as more emotion comes through from the rest of your poem. I really appreciate the way you convey this state of change where those around you are unwilling to recognize it. Change can be difficult, especially when the motivation to make said change is to turn around your life, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to not have these changes and feelings acknowledged or recognized. This poem is very intense and evokes emotion from the reader, sending an amazing message about changes that need to be made in our reform systems. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and emotions,

  7. Julia Santosuosso on November 11, 2022 at 8:22 PM

    This is absolutely incredible work. As someone who has never been inside of a prison or known anyone closely who has been, this poem gave me a lot of insight. It reminded me that some people are robbed of having another shot at the life they long for. While I am sure these emotions are so terribly hard to deal with, you have done a beautiful job at putting them into words. I hope that you continue using this art as your outlet; I loved hearing the words you had to say. Thank you so much for sharing

  8. Emily on November 11, 2022 at 8:31 PM

    Nicely done JH! Like what everyone else is saying, just keep writing. Your words have power, and they are your guide. Keeping your sanity truly must be a hard thing to do. Writing calms, me when I get overwhelmed. I’m sure if you keep writing the hard truths and the untold and forgotten stories of an inmate and as a person, you will be just fine. I hope one day you will be given the chance to prove you’ve changed.

  9. Kristen Shave on November 21, 2022 at 10:41 AM

    I especially love the last line! I love your rhyming patterns you chose to use. You capture judgement in an amazing way that is hard to do! You chose the perfect words in this poem and painted a picture in my head. I love your emotion you capture! Please keep writing!

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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.