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.

We Must

By MH

We protest in the loudest voice the injustice of the “justice system”
We protest our dehumanization
We protest our victimization
We protest our torture
We protest the harsh treatment by the “justice system”
We protest the harshness of the “justice system”
We protest the failure of the “justice system”
We protest turning humans into numbers and statistics
We protest a system negatively altered human life forever
We protest a system that destroyed human mind, heart, and soul
We protest….
We protest….

Our protest heeded no positive responses
We heard instead the calls for harsher treatment
We heard them say
In the name of justice we imprisoned you
In the name of justice we caged you
In the name of justice we took you away from your loved ones
In the name of justice we gave you the harshest sentences
In the name of justice we made our streets safer
(violence, drugs, and crimes rife still in the street)
In the name of justice we took your rights away
In the name of justice we sent you to be rehabilitated
(there is no rehabilitation to speak of, you mean we sent you to the most
prestigious universities of criminality, it is called and funded by
the “justice system” [prisons] there you will achieve the greatest
degree in the pursuance of crimes)
In the name of justice….
In the name of justice….

We wondered how they weren’t able to hear our cries for justice
We wondered when will they hear us, when will they hear our voices,
our stories, somethings must be missing?
We must reexamine and find the causes
We must take a look at us, at ourselves
We accepted and contributed to our tragedy
We seem to lose our sense, intellect, understanding, comprehension,
empathy, love, thoughtfulness, mindfulness, etc…
the cause effect of the “justice system”
We live instead in a state of delusion, illusion
We accepted to live in such a tragedy, because we let it affect us
We lost our purpose
We lost ourselves
We lost our inner peace
We lost our hope
We live in a state where anger, blame, and frustration took control
and paralyzed us
We deny our reality and live with the flow
We refuse to use the paddles in our position to paddle our boat
and reach the shore, reach our destination, instead we let the
currents take us wherever it wishes to
We will not change what’s happening to us, until we change what’s within us

We deny reality
We are not aware that the theaters long since it closed its curtains,
the audience long since they left, and the awards long since they
have been awarded, there is no need for anymore acts.
We search for the precious minerals, but we only find toxic and useless materials
We will not be able to remove the cuffs and shackles (not the physical ones)
that are restraining us, until we find the treasure, the priceless treasure
We all, each one of us have a precious gem and jewels, in our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies.
We must hasten in seeking our treasures, find it, refine it, produce and share it
We must stop chasing after the mirage
We must remove and break these shackles
We must not accept to live in such a tragedy, we co-founded ourselves
We must wake up.

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I Don’t Need It

By LL

Content warning: self-harm

 

I don’t need it
I can make it through the day
Well, maybe… I think
And if not, I’ll just have a drink
I like wine, I’ll be fine
Pass the time, pass the blunt
Left hand to right
Cause I don’t need it
I don’t need it
Okay, maybe I do
Life is hard, a little too much
It knocks me down and I get in a rut
Unable to pull myself up cause I’m too weak
So weak in the knees and then I freeze
Once I freeze, it takes over me
I’m paralyzed, stuck and then…
No, I don’t need it
But I want it
That’s pathetic but least I’m honest
It won’t take long, I’ll be quick
It’s like a prick, okay that’s a lie
But I don’t feel the pain so it’s fine
Just one minute, might be some blood
But I won’t be flooded w/ thoughts anymore
The thoughts are bad, overpowering, mean
I scream but who hears
Tears fall cause… I don’t need it
But I want it
I want the relief, the release
To be free from the pain inside
One cut, two cut, three
Anything to come up and breathe
And then I’ll be okay, til I’m not
But til then I’ll tell myself
I don’t need it

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Suburbia

By AB

Suburbia:

We drove to your parents’ home, out in suburbia talking about all the things you wish you could change.
Like that man you see for help with your head and the way you see yourself, or the way your parents run their house.
But that’s life in suburbia; where house wives drink all day, as the husbands work for the man for just enough pay.
You told me all about all the dysfunction in the neighborhood, like Ms. Robinson’s gay son.
And the kid who used to play with guns until one day he got mad and then he got sad and then nothing at all.
But that’s life in suburbia; where the kids aren’t all right, and the parents all fight.
So we hid in your room and rocked out to all your favorite bands as we got high and dreamt of distant lands.
We talk about white flight and we stay up all night, then we do something brand new, well at least new to you…
But that’s life in suburbia; where love like ours is just so taboo and everyone pretends to know the real you.
After we’re done I give you a hug and you tell me this wasn’t just a fling and that you’d like to make us a thing.
You told me about all your secrets and I told you mine, while Kurt sang along in a high pitched whine.
But that’s life in suburbia; where the kids’ romances are built overnight as the parents struggle and sleep apart at night.
But it didn’t matter to us, as we sat together in your new car, wishing and wanting for this to go far.
But it wasn’t meant to be, or at least that’s what you told me, as you drove me home, out of your suburbia.
But that’s life in suburbia; where it’s fun to play until the end of the day…

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When I Fall

By JK

There are so many levels to the word fall
I’ve tried to find ways to explain them all

Autumn is my favorite season
Using the word fall seems like treason

It’s such an easy way to say something that feels so beautiful
Cool, crisp wind & fresh air that’s so plentiful

It often makes me want to fall asleep
Listening to trees & the breeze puts me in so deep

Speaking of so deep, what about how we fall in love
That phrase always stumps me, makes me wonder

Then I shrug
When you fall the first thought is that it hurts

It’s painful just like love when you realize it’s not gonna work
To think it all started out with a smile, because you’re a flirt

So you fall back and then you’re back on once again
When is this cycle gonna come to an end

Now you’re careful, fully aware
You won’t ever fall through the cracks

All it took is one time
Now you’re back on the right track

And
You can also chill out and cut the next guy some slack

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Autumn In My Mind

By TT

Temperatures cool to signal the change
clothing layers increase to acknowledge the same
leaves fade and trees grow bare
the vibe of autumn is clearly in the air.
As squirrels hurry to improve the cache
The bears eat thinking of a sleep that last
Colors once green, go orange then gold
Mother nature’s beauty can never grow old
So we all watch this transition a glitter
and await the next coming of winter

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Sad 2 Say

By JS

She was born to a single mother
Father tried to come back when she was ten
He came with clothes and gifts, but she was already
cold within

His love was what she yearned for, but he was too dumb to understand
Not to mention the streets had given her a kiss on the cheek
And when I wasn’t looking, the streets held
her hand

Mother tried to supervise
But it’s hard for a single mother who is raising 3 kids
Plus she had 2 jobs, somebody has to put food
in the fridge

The little girl is now twelve
Skipping school and getting drunk
She’s loving the attention that she’s getting from the boys

Sometimes, she runs away for days, leaving the mother worried sick
The father done packed his bags, said f*ck her life he’s going to live his

This is not a rare story in the hood, this is how it is
A lot of mothers are struggling
The worst part is when they lose control of their kids
The little girl gets pregnant, and the cycle repeats
It’s messed up how they set it up for the poor
Let the poor stay poor and the rich get richer

Flood the hood with drugs
Oh and give them guns too
Let’s limit their education and give them low paying gigs
The part that’s really messed up is that they said, “F*ck the kids”

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Fork in the Road

By AC

On the path I was given, I’ve seen many things…
Devils with no horns…
Angels without wings…
Flowers that never bloomed, to roses that grew from rocks…
Dreams locked in a room, minds glow in the dark…
As with the many courses laid, many choices were made
Some for better, some for worse, others still being played…
Now here I am, at this fork in the road
And no matter which way I go
It won’t lighten my load.
If I choose left, that could lead me to death
If I choose right, it might lead me to light
But if death is my choice, that could lead to peace…
But if light is the way, that could lead me to grief…
If I happen to decide on the least beaten path
It could ask of me a patience I’m not sure that I have
If I choose the other, that will likely unfold
Mind, body, or heart eternally cold
Familiar is the way I ‘ve watched many trek
The other way’s foreign, don’t know what to expect
And now I must decide, and I’ll live or die with it
Staring down the road with the dead end, I chose the one
Without limits.

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In My Heart

By AW

I have been
Stuck in this cage alone,
Knowing, yet, scared and
Barred from the help
Necessary to transcend
This blinding suffering
Ingrained in my gut.
My dad’s father’s
Popa’s father’s pain,
I feel in my heart.

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Untitled

By NG

No clothes
No shoes
No lights
No food
Child being raised by a child
Leave struggles with no rules
So no school was the road
Stuck in poverty nowhere to go
Just another lost soul
They don’t care to help
So we don’t care to do whatever
Stealing cars and rob just to feel better
The cells in jail
Where they rather put us
Instead of getting us real help
We just a product of our environment
We just trying to make it
They just trying to take it
But we hold on stand strong
Like a knife going through fire
We become stronger after the fire
Pain could become a distraction if you allow it
Pain could also be strength if you use it right
No matter what keep your head high
At the end it’s always light

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Biggest Fan

By DJ (Trey)

I would buy a ticket to your show,
Sit in the front row,
Stand up and cheer as you sing from your soul.
Catz may cry, dogs might bark,
but I’ll keep your ticket next to my heart.

If you was a dancer, I would pay for a dance even if you had one short leg.
I would keep my outfit in a Ziplock body bag, just to smell your fragrance.
If you paint, I would pose and buy them all at the art exposé.

I joke with you and laugh because Lord knows I got it bad.

I would pay top dollar for one more hit,
You are like a drug and my body wants its fix.

I got it bad, I got it bad, I know,
But can you sign these pictures, and say to my Biggest Fan?

 

This is Trey #3

New

By DT

I’m tired of the old where is the new
New year, New month, Same ol you
Nothing feels like new shoes
New love or a new car
Except new blues or a release date not too far
I’m tryin new ways for the same ol thing
It’s a new day, but the pain has the same ol sting
So I ask, is anything new under the sun?
Or do your present become your future
But was it new when it began?

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Wait 4 Me

By AS

Wait 4 Me
Because I’m almost free
No more cuffs on my hands
No more shackles on my feet
No more waking up sad
No more crying to sleep
I’m tired of commissary bags
& stupid kiosk machines

I’m almost free
1 million things on my mind
Like when I leave out these doors
Ain’t no more count time
No more waking up 4 dimes
I’m tired of watching Fox 5
I’m on my way to R&D*
With a Kool-Aid smile

 

*Receiving & Discharge

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