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.

Never Again

By DJ

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

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Judged Cover

By MV

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

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Identity Crisis

By MC

Is the real me
Who I was or
What I’ve become?

Is the change in my life
A run from fright,
A cry for help or
A heavenly plight?

Envision my past,
Make a mental collage
It seems my life is a
Stagnated growth spurt

So much learned,
But such simple mistakes,
Like a mile run
In back pedal.

Am I the Dancing Monkey,
Or the Empowering Imp?

So much abuse
So much promise
Famous or infamous?
Which will rule?
Which will I choose?

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Peculiarities of Love

By AC

There is so much power in this word.
Four letters,
one syllable,
and stored within it,
the power to change the whole entire world.

Many people refuse to believe in love at first sight,
and yet, if you were to ask
your very own mother what it was like
to contemplate your existence
for the very first time;
to see your small body,
to see your small hands,
and at once be able to grasp, then comprehend
that you were by far
the most perfect extension of her.
She will tell you
there was nothing other than love
for you in her eyes.

Then there is the true love of a father
for his own lovely child.
Even if you haven’t witnessed this love,
hopefully one day you will hold
the blood of your blood,
believe it is real, and you will no longer need
to live the rest of your life in denial.

Then there is the other side of love,
the one that keeps pulling us together,
trying to diminish the distance
that divides our lonely souls
It goes jumping from one heart onto the next,
giving us reason after reason
to smile, to laugh, to hug.

Love is also the silliest of bugs.
It morphs,
from a friendship into maybe a little
something more.
It draws the best within our beings,
giving us reasons to look up into the sky,
to wish, to imagine, to dreams, and to hope.

This bug can be transmitted in a smile,
and maybe through the sparks within our eyes
Maybe in the slightest of a touch
of our hands
as we talked,
unaware of how the hours passed us by.
Maybe it was the way her dress fluttered in the wind
to remind me that I’m alive
Maybe it was the smell of her perfume,
or the way her hair glowed
under the moonlight and the bright stars.

Four letters,
one syllable,
and stored within it,
the power to change my little world.

About this poem: This poem speaks of the power of love. It lists some examples from the bigger picture all the way to the smallest picture. It touches on motherly, fatherly, friendly, platonic and romantic love in that order from stanza #2 through #6. But wait! There is more! My beloved reader, if you were kind enough to read the poem backwards from #7 to #1, you should be able to imagine a love story unraveling going from a first date all the way to the couple being proud parents and ready to take on the whole world. This is my Happy Valentine’s Day to you and may every day of your life be a day in which you feel loved and cherished. For what it’s worth, I love you dear reader. Thank you for your time. As always, enjoy!  

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Family

By LM

Never take them for granted
They can be here today and gone tomorrow
It may be too late for the “I wish I would have” moments
Cherish them while you can
There will always be a constant lack of communication
But you’ll always be family

Every family has their share of ups and downs
But that brings the family closer together
Family is there when you need them
Sometimes missing in action
But there when you need them
Family is all we have
And sometimes we lose sight of that
But nevertheless
We’re reminded when we need them

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Quintessence of African American

By PJ

My country…
Tis of thee.
Bittersweet land, apparition of liberty.
So long withheld from me…

Of thee I see
Land where my fathers died,
Land where the pilgrims cried.
A pretense of courtesy,
But held disdain deep.
Likewise, today people in positions of authority
And opportunity.

My country…
When will you unchain the shackles: mentally
Historically, and physically
That bind us
Civilly to hypocrisy.

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Struggling and Dreaming

By T.R.

Da struggle is for the best of us
Dreaming is for the one’s striving to chase success
I come from the mud
Where struggling is all I know
If we ain’t got it, go next door and tell’em,
“My mother said can she borrow this until she goes to the store?”

Now I’m in a jail cell chasing my dreams
(But only dreaming)
Love don’t kill, people do

Struggling and dreaming will have a person rob, steal, kill,
Shoot you, and hurt you for things one strives for
When one’s struggling, it’s a chase to your dreams
Be patient, dreams become a reality
When I endure this so-called struggle of mine
Only the strong survive to overcome these obstacles

To dream and dwell, one must have a sharp mindset
To look or picture their future

Struggling and dreaming is the meaning of life
Dreaming, and struggling is just the way we live
And I will chase my dream from my struggle

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Incarcerated

By R.B

Brick walls, fences, and razor wire criss-crossed in a bind

Feelings overlooked ‘cause remorse is the punishment of crime

No warmth lives here but the wind that chilled

Where it’s a lot of counterfeit ‘cause fake outweigh the real

Not always behind walls and locked doors while doing time

But in the outside world, incarcerated in the mind

Not always what it seems, sometimes a blessing

Only what you make of it, not always unpleasant

A learning experience that’s strongly reckoned with

A chapter of one’s life that’ll never just shift

Forever with you, there all the way to the end

But what will you gain? Strength? Or will you bend?

Pen Fiend

By D.W.

As I sit back
And operate this pen
In my mind
I feel like I’m a pen fiend
Sick with words
Sick with the pen
Whoa! Just had a brain freeze
Right back at it
Like your every day dope addict
Sick, can’t go without it
Got to write about it
In my eyes
I see the light
And only I can see what to write
Every day and night
I think, am I doing what’s right?
This is my life
Some say pray to Christ
But every time I think about it
I am back writin’ with the pen
Sick with so many emotions
And no one to talk to
So who can I turn to
But my pen
I’m just your every day pen fiend

My World

By JG

I was born into a world where the only language men understand is violence and you have to be trained to go at the drop of a hat. Displaying physical aggression at any given moment. Gun, knife, or a bat, or hand to hand combat, you never knew. You just had to be ready to work with no hesitation.

A world where your reputation is everything, it can make or break you.
A world where it’s best to simply stay in your lane, play your role. Because when you try to step outside of yourself into someone else’s position, it’s only a matter of time before those that occupy that same position figure out that you don’t belong there. Then exposure can and will take place.

And in the world I was born into, exposure can be a matter of life and death… I was born into a world where there’s no such as thing as meek, either you’re strong or you’re weak. Predator or prey. Any chance of finding a grey area is slim to none.
A world where manhood is defined by how many girls you can have sex with, how much money you have, and whether your guns goes off or not.

A world where extortions, armed robberies and drug dealings are a part of everyday activities, from sun up to sun down. A world where the probability of your death being a homicide is much higher… I was born into a world where most people who don’t know how to cope with the pain of their struggle try to numb it with drugs and alcohol.

A world full of so much potential but the people have endured centuries of brain-washing that has taught them to hate themselves. The young man doesn’t value his own life much at all, so he surely won’t think twice about taking yours. The young woman will sell her body to you for a dime rock, a dippa or an E-Pill. How much value can she possibly be putting on herself?

A world where we’re conditioned from early on to believe that somehow being educated and well spoken is lame and un-cool. A world where the gentleman generally doesn’t exist because we’ve been terribly misinformed, whether it was directly or indirectly as to how we’re supposed to treat women. I was born into a world where most never escape, and blessed are the few that do…

I was born into a world where it’s not nearly as glamorous as mega-media would have you believe. It’s an everyday struggle to simply survive. I just wish that all of my brothers and sisters in the struggle the best. I would love to see my world rise above the current state of mind, back into our original state consciousness. I’ve highlighted the problems, but I choose to be a part of the solution. I will start by being the change I would like to see in the world. The more I learn, the more I will grow, the more I will rise and shine and be a source of light for others.

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The Weather Inside of Me

By RJ

The weather inside of me is a storm
Hurricane Katrina times ten
And it has been brewing since the day I was born
The good thing is I’m coming out on the other side of this storm
To bright sunny days

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Trust the Rusted Chains

By JA

Herringbones those were on me, my ignorant a** wanted big gold ropes
DNA slave mentality
15 handcuffs, 17 add shackles for a Lifetime
Airplanes, ankles and wrist pain, swollen rivers my blood thickens in my eye
I see George waiting patiently for me, why Soledad Brother?
Milk crates full of chains, ominous black boxes by us for us
Belly chains pulled tight in Lewisburg basement all night
Summertime lights on all night
On Henry Hill, man them crackers a tear you up
Hot pipes and gas that they’ll swear don’t exist
Stop fightin’, an inside joke, you been there, then u know
Rogers, he the worst of the bunch
BANG! Rip up your family pictures etc.
From it he gets so much pleasure
3 minute shower in a cage
Fools rappin’ all day, 3 in the mornin’ monkey play
What would George say …about them planting razors when they shake you down
Because police got killed in D town
Day one, phase one. we call it
You know if you been there to Henry Hill
The Big House, where they throw everything important away
And lie on they mama with a straight face
Throw you downstairs when they feel like it
In E block the early smell coming up from the laundry is the only thing that calmed me
At night, I chased stars like the way when we was little with cars
B block cells so lil’ with big bugs, gas on all the books
Lay on the floor at night to breathe, dreams with the bugs
Feeding the birds in my window, wishing I too could fly
I do that a lot
If you been to Henry Hill then u know how I feel about chains

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