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.
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
My mind is powerful, that’s why I use it,
My body is a vault, that’s why I protect it,
My dreads are strength, that’s why I nurture them
My eyes are movies, they tell a story
My hands are tools, that’s why I write.
My legs and feet are one, that’s how I run
My skin is light, but I’m still black
My perfect picture of me being me.
As my thoughts escape and illustrate stanzas through the
ink of my pen…
I can feel the chains being removed which held them within…
No longer am I confined by ignorance …
I am now intellectually vigilant, vividly envisioning all that’s depicted …
No matter how encrypted or scripted …
Though I am physically in bondage, my conscious is liberated
And constantly attending college … College of SELF
To attain knowledge of self…you must break the shackles of
your capture and adapt to the fact that there’s no limit to
the infinite landscape of the mental …
Whether it’s reading, writing or just reciting your favorite song …
That’s an example of being mentally enfranchised …
And not subjugated to the conflict of right and wrong …
On a larger scale, we all are trapped in some kind of prison cell…
This entails being physically obligated by mentally frustrated …
So, our minds become prisoners of ourselves … we aid it …
But when we ‘connect’ our ‘free minds’ we climb to heights
that can never have restraint …
our word of essence is: can.
We will never say can’t …
When we understand that we’re gifted, have freedom and
are righteous …
We help unlock millions of minds just like us …
By SH aka Sincere Echoes
I sit in a six-sided box, 259 cinder blocks encased to hold me physically captured.
In my isolation, my 2 windows offer 2 different views.
1 for the inside and the cells don’t change, only the occupants face.
And 1 for the outside where the scene doesn’t change, only seasons, night and day.
So here I relax on 1 paper thin mat with two beds that are stacked.
And there’s 387 holes in the vent over for the air to flow
and my food gets shoved in one bean hole in the middle of my door.
1 table, 1 seat, 1 toilet where I sleep, 1 sink, 1 shower, 1 mirror
to see me stare at me and my 22 prison tattoos of ink
and 90 locks of dreads that sit on the crown of my head, twisted to the grits.
18 scars too that healed, but never quite heeled.
Cause I can remember the reason for each, of every scar that comes to be,
18 years in the belly of this out-of-control beast.
26 years olds when left those streets as I stare at these 4 walls
thinking back on my 13 felonies and the 188 months was a sentence of this case,
10 years in the feds, 8 years in the state, 4 guns,
put me away for a decade and my 3 kids ain’t got much to say
cause they grew up without me.
And I can’t count the many people who doubt me.
But know it’s more than my 10 fingers and 10 toes.
And these last 10 years I had to do it on my own,
except when Free Minds letters slide through the crack in my door.
Yet I still got 60 months left to go and all this is my truth and I can’t give you any more.
I’m inmate H— 2—064.
Counting my ways, counting my blessings,
counting my days, one day at a time,
giving you a story of the numbers of my life.
Identifying information has been removed to protect the author’s privacy.
All this wasted time in a federal prison
I didn’t take the cotton out my ears and put it in my ears and listen
This isn’t the way to spend life, I won’t do this anymore
I’m still young and there’s a lot of positive things I haven’t done before
Incarceration isn’t built for rehab
And I’m educating myself, paying this tab
In situations I’ve learned to walk away
I refuse to be locked in a cell again, this to God I pray
Coming to prison was once a fear
I wake up everyday, can’t believe I’m really here
The devil’s inside me, I won’t let him put me down
And the day I succeed, I will make sure I wear a crown
I am the company I keep
And I won’t stop until I change myself, there won’t be sleep
Life is what you make it
And I learned we all make mistakes, nobody is perfect
I can’t keep up with the old me, I have a family to feed
Things will change, my liberty is all I need
I have to put my pride to the side
For when I’m back on the streets, there’s nothing to hide
One word killed the Eric Garners and George Floyds of America.
One word deprived them of life and happiness.
One word hinders African Americans from the sweet joy of liberty.
One word denies us our equality.
One word allows injustices to go unchecked.
One word permits the violation of our rights.
One word created mass incarceration.
One word killed the Sandra Blands and Breonna Taylors of America.
One word will keep black lives inferior.
The word… “except.”
[Proposed by Congress Jan. 31 1865, ratified Dec. 6 1865]
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
“I will never forget what a great shock this was to me, here, for the first time, I was made aware of the existence of a race problem.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968
When nobody was there, you was
When life brings me down, you’re always there to help me up
When I’m not feeling good, you always know what to say to put a smile on my face
It’s like you can read my mind even though we are so far away
And when I thought life was blank, you guys taught me how to pick back up my pen again
So I wanna thank all of my Free Minds friends for helping me open my camera lens
You crossed a desert and an ocean to find me
In a rainforest sitting under a tree
To me the only friend in the world was the sky and the leaves
Then you step in my path
Oh dear, a Queen in the form of water to refresh my soul
Laugh until the sun came up and then she turned cold
One touch shattered her
And a lavender breeze took her away from me
The sky and the leaves couldn’t believe the king of alone
Was tricked by the breeze
I’m known on a last name basis
In a place
Where numbers come with faces
Will you ever know me
On a first name basis?
More than the name I mean
I’m more than a criminal, you see
I once had dreams
Skateboarding and BMX competitions
Once an innocent seed
No impediments to my visions
Then came abuse as a child
My ability suddenly in question
A pure heart defiled
Smiles turned into depression
From selfless to selfish
What have I become?
What you consider wrong
Is normal to some
A bitter life prolonged
Is easier said than done
So I became an expression
Of what I felt within
Though innocent were my intentions
My life was filled with sin
Reckless in my behavior
Because I didn’t value self
Putting myself in danger
Was my cry for help
So I cried and I cried
So did my mother every night
While her tears were literal
Mine were more mystical
My actions held a deeper meaning
Preventing others from seeing
And a talented kid from being
All he wanted to be
Crime gave me meaning
And a gang provided safety
Until for my pain
There was no more compensating
It took a precious life
Just to see how precious was mine
It took so many squandered years
For me to value time
It took me all that doing wrong
Just to do what’s right
It took a cell all alone
Just so that I could cry
All you have to do is look on your screen
For you to make judgements about me
But that will never tell you
About the real me