About the Poetry Blog

The poets featured on this page 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. These 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.

Click on the poem title to open it up, and then post your comments, feedback, and encouragement in the space below the poem.

Feeling Afraid

By MH

I can do no wrong
In the eyes of a guy that takes lives
But live his life as a lie
And they wonder why
After all I have done
I wait at the end of it all to cry
But when I told them to leave me alone
They didn’t understand
At the time I was put out at 12
I was considered grown
And months later I confused Youth Services Center* as my new home
But they talked about me and laughed instead
So I held anger for years
And couldn’t control the urge
To react with violence
Even though I was really scared
I developed an attitude which has led me where I am: in jail
And they don’t know how it hurts to be real
So sometimes I wonder why I am not dead
Every night, I sit in my cell and think
Is it reality or am I tripping?
Because I can hear the walls talking to me
And I wonder, should I continue to listen?
In a strange way it feels good
Even though I know the Devil is on a mission
But God is not quitting
So there’s two voices I am hearing
So am I brave for admitting that I am afraid
But do not know what I am afraid of?
Or should I just hate the feeling
That feels good to love

 

*DC’s juvenile detention facility

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Where Is Superman When You Need Him?

By JH

Where is Superman when you need him?
He could have swept through,
and stopped the police from giving that beating.
Used his superspeed to catch the bullets,
before they hit and stopped his breathing.
It’s messed up that people have died for the littlest reasons.

They needed him.
I believed in him.
But maybe next time he’ll show up,
before someone’s lip gets blown up.

Then the police can go back to eating donuts
and drinking coffee.
Then the rioters won’t riot,
and property damages won’t be so costly.
Trump can go back to talking about how tall the wall will be.

If Superman showed up sometimes,
imagine how easy the police’s jobs would be.
They could keep the shields, tear gas, and riot gear,
all locked away within the armory.

I could leave my home and wouldn’t have to worry,
about the police bringing harm to me,
unless he has to fly off
to figure out where Lex Luthor’s next bomb will be.

I just hope he’ll fly through
and be the superhero he is in the comic scenes.
Maybe then the Black man’s future
will be more promising.

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Resurrection

By PJ

I keep looking at these trees
From this window, I can see
Them inside the cemetery
Each evening and now
They stand between me and the sky
I imagine weeping willows in the south

They remind me of old photographs
Depicting southern pastures
Especially when the evening sun
Is orange and it splays through the leaves from
One tomb to another
Last night I smelled gunpowder

Rightfully so, rightfully so
I’ve just learned of another loss days ago
A female’s daughter
Decades after her loss of a brother
There’s something about this city
The cemetery, weeping willows, and gunpowder

Entombed last night
On the 4th of July
Through the trees
I could see
The fireworks, the city was smoky
The cemetery was dark–hovered a mist
Created between gunpowder and humanity

Rightfully so, rightfully so
The nation’s capital, it’s as though
The weeping willows have been there as long as those
Confederate sympathetic tombs
And trapped between the two
The mist of souls lost to gunpowder

Oh say can you see the ghost
Luminous on the road between the tombs?
The bombs bring to light
The gun powdered creed

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John Lewis

By AM

Dedicated to John Lewis, one of my heroes

I remember when I met you in 2001; when you spoke at my high school in D.C.
At the time, you told us “good trouble” was your motto
And what you stood for was equality for all people
Listening to you, I was inspired and sought to learn more
About you, but never forgot the day I got to shake your hand
The trouble I engaged in wasn’t good and sent me away
But I always remember your speech at my school
When I got to see the movie Selma, I knew your name would become more well-known
For those who didn’t know

You paved the way for many and stood on the frontline for a nation in peril
To change the narrative with many other leaders like yourself
When I saw the documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble” on your life’s work
I watched how you pushed for the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and other laws you passed
But I remember the words that would forever stick with me
Which was when you said, “We only pass through this way once”
I took these words to mean how you fought for so much throughout your life
That you’ll get to do once and leave the legacy behind of what you have done to live on

You got the chance to witness the rise of a new movement
And encourage us all to continue the fight
And kept your voice heard by all, even while sick
So I honor you, look up to you, and will never forget all you have done for the cause
And all people throughout your life on this Earth
May your name live on, and may you rest in paradise

Peace.

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Untitled

By VC and AB

It was heard and seen around the world
As time elapsed, people stared at the unexplainable
While excessive force compelled pain to consume the air
“I can’t breathe!”

People gathered by the thousands
All races around the world
Protesting for justice and equality
For every man, woman, boy, and girl
“I can’t breathe!”

Sleeping Beauty was who she was
Dreaming in a better place
Than this troubled world
Her aspirations right at her fingertips
Until that door was kicked in
And bullets left the clip
“I can’t breathe!”

Basketball games look different
Football games are not the same
Men and women stand arms linked, unified
Demanding justice and change
“I can’t breathe!”

“I can’t breathe” weren’t just words
It was a life
The kickin’ in of that door
Dismissed a beautiful young life
“I can’t breathe!”

This can’t just be a whole lot of talk
And meaningless chatter
It has to be in your heart
That… Black Lives Matter

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Dream

By AH

Dedicated to my daughter

Yesterday, I had a dream about a girl
She was light skin like me
She possessed my eyes
My hair
My lips
My feet
And every time that she smiled
I smiled
Every time that she cried
I cried
Each tear feeling like invincible bullets tearing
into my flesh
Leaving behind a painful mess
Yes, yesterday I had a dream about a girl
and the dream was over before I could
pull her close to my heart
It was over
Before I could tell her my story
Tell her my part
God I pray for the chance to see her again
So I am going back to bed in hope of dreamin
about the girl that looks like me
again

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Abundance

By SW

I remember being in the streets living
Project living, dreams of making millions
But project living earned me a spot in the system
Times got hard
So I prayed to Allah
Just keep your mind occupied
On your journey or your ride
Before it’s too late, tell your God
You appreciate him for keeping you alive

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A Happier Note

By AC

Lately, I have been feeling trapped,
Trapped in a nightmare from which I can’t wake,
As if I were inside of a coffin
From which I’m not able to escape

And I know the sun is shining out there
But its light barely makes it here.
The coffin opens somehow and I slowly step out,
Calling out for my loved ones, for anyone, really
In my mind I seem to be screaming aloud

I try to see the world
But there is nothing but walls and fences around
So instead, I try to see the complexities of this make believe world
Swallowed by the reality of another existence
What’s worse? I cannot wake up to get back
Back to the life I was living before

The air has been sucked out of my lungs;
I am screaming as loud as I can
But nothing comes out, there isn’t a sound.
I’m running and running but somehow I’m stuck on the ground.

Then somewhere inside of my brain I realize this is simply a dream,
From what is a dream if not a nightmare that ends on a happier note.
And on that notes, I wake up:
I wake up a free man,
Free from the chains that have shackled my soul

About this poem: This poem falls in line with the hope that all our nightmares will someday cease to torment our lives and hopefully on that day they can transform into dreams.

Enjoy!

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Notepad 2

By MV

I know its been a while since the last time
We spoke or since I’ve written
Hope you don’t mistake my procrastination
As me being distant
Because honestly, I enjoy the feeling
Of my pen on this paper
And I miss it
Alone with my thoughts
As I write this missive
Your therapeutic value was priceless
Though simplistic
Like when I misspell
It’s holistic
You never come with rules or opinions
Never closed minded
No matter how absurd my visions
Never ask what brand
Or what color my pen is
My sounding board when I’m trippin’
Or come off as pretentious
I appreciate your stone face demeanor
Even as I vent this
I’ve been away lately
And I have no excuses
You stayed patient while I delayed
Even though I know
Things between us would never change
Like you would chastise me for the wait
It’s insane
Nevertheless it passed through my brain
For you notepad
I say
Thanks

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Mourn

By WD, Tha Sensational Poetologist

Strength is born when you mourn
And sorrow leads to success that no one can suppress
Unless it is used wrong and not as a stepping stone

Which is why I don’t seek solace
Instead I acknowledge that no one will respect me
If I don’t use grief correctly

Especially when I am mourning the loss of freedom
Because the mourning process is protracted
When I’m impacted

By grief that can possibly morph into depression
If I don’t teach it a lesson
That will benefit us both

So my oath
To heart is to never let it break
As long as I’m strong and awake when it aches

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Feelings

By TR

I can’t cry
So when it rains, I run outside
Look up to the sky, let the
Rain drops flow into my eyes
“Like I’m really crying!”
Tear drops don’t exist
Love turns to pain
Feelings into emotions
When would I let it all out emotionally?
Because my anger keeps provoking me
I wouldn’t care if you didn’t say
‘Hi’ to me
A couple of my Brodies died without
Saying ‘goodbye’ to me
Pressure busts pipes, but I remain
Strong in both heart and arms
But still put my feelings & love in every
D*MN POEM!

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Bright Blue Skies

By DC

Bright blue skies clothe inner city lies.
There’s a quitter entangled in, “how many times I have to try.”
Curious to know your real motives,
Hands over my eyes in disbelief when I seen the real molders.
Now rumbling within like a racing car’s motor.
Standing on each other’s shoulders to look the Devil in his eyes,
but over sleeping on the morning reality no longer wants to hide.
What a time to claim you’re tied!

Bright blue skies clothe inner city lies.
If the deserts died of thirst then why do they look more alive?
I asked with pride & your answers hid the truth,
if I come from them why am I so fond of you.
I learned what you taught but never got as far as, who?
That bright blue sky that camouflaged those inner city truths…

 

P.S. I’m searching for brutally honest constructive criticism, I hope that isn’t too much to ask from you all. Take Care, R.I.P COVID-19

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