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.

They Don’t Hear Me


The sound of my mother’s voice
“J.R. you are not dumb,
just pay attention”
as I sit staring at the math problems
the tutor has in front of me

but they don’t hear me

I’ve always had a mind of my own
ever since I was able to stand on
my own

but they don’t hear me

As a baby I tried to tell people
what I wanted
and didn’t want

but they don’t hear me

I would see my older brothers and cousin
run out of the house when my back was turned
because they knew I’d
I would tell my little legs
to move

but they don’t hear me

The sound of my mother’s voice
“J.R. you can do the work”

but they don’t hear me

Imagine being unable to express what you’re feeling
I am still that baby who is crying inside trying
to tell the people
that I know
what they don’t

but they don’t hear me

Here I am today still unable to tell my mom
how I feel because she’s passed on
However I still find myself talking to her

hoping that she can hear me

Because I can now tell her that
I don’t know how to do
what she wants
but can only do
what I can


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We See Nothing Wrong


Patching up holes in “old” drywall,
Sanding down all that lies rough,
Painting over mistakes with white paint…
Left me with a “spot” of new.

Like a full moon in the night,
A reminder of the damage I caused.
Catching my sight every time I turn,
But these people pass by oblivious…

Still, I anticipate the scrutiny ruefully.
Finally questioning “doesn’t that spot bother you?”
A white spot on an old wall…
And they say “we see nothing wrong…”

Maybe it’s time to forgive myself…

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Me and My Pen


The bond we share is unbreakable
The love I have for you is not overrated
The feeling I have for you is real
The energy you give me is good

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Whose, Who


Can you see, see?
Whose really free, free?
We are caged, people are caged, animals are caged
This keeps me so, so raged!
Because the plague, plague raged, that, that
Caged, caged…
Counties, communities, cities, countries
All plagued, plagued, even the dead
Rage that ignited rage, that swept, kept
Many caged and when we turn the page…
We see, see, so many have aged from being caged
People urged to stay caged from the plague that
Swooped in like the rage, and ate away the aged
Rage that invades men, women, children, and moves
So rude, that the people intrude—intruding –
They storm, swarm, and looking enraged…
Trying to overturn and overhang
Now they too are among the raged that is caged
From east to west, to north to south
From shelter, to apartment, to house, to hospital
To nursing home, to jail cell, to prison cell
All feeling like hell, in the midst of this spell
That has left the rest in a shell, telling tales
We’re all caged, with rage, all on edge
Wonder, wondering when, when, when, you, me
And we can be free, free, free…
We all want…
Can you see, whose really free, free, free or do you see?

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Story of My Life


My life is like a notebook filled with empty pages
Bitter words and blank statements
I stare at the pages and try to picture
What should go in these spaces
When I can’t get my own, I take from others
And try to replace them
I’m not being a follower
I just use the leader’s example as inspiration, persuasion
And sometimes motivation
Convincing me to keep the ink on my paper
These bitter words are like lemons and grapefruits
If you put enough sugar on it, it will taste true
People sell it everyday like Minute Maid
But a lie will stay sour until it’s lemonade
These statements I make that seem so bold
Are often the ones that make my heart
Look so cold

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See and Be Seen


My creativity revealed the
Viewpoint for integrity & identity
In the world where Black artists
Can struggle with partial justice
And support my strange response
Could help power our community
With social love
But a struggle to deal with spiritual formation in America
Are traditional standards
Embracing leadership features unique strength
On him who apply reflection then sureness
Across the land
I’m beautiful
Respected in visual art for a lot of soul
Corporate characteristics
Successful me

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Phantasmagorical Echoes


Dear people of this planet,
Kings, Queens, Citizens,
of this lonely, stone-skipping on universe waters,
of this cozy blue pebble that we choose to call earth.

I want to tell you that Today we exist;
That Today, we walk on a path
forged by the blood of preceding ancestors;
That Today, we are more pleasantly carried
in the arms of our history and the shoulders of time.

I want to tell you that great women and men
have sacrificed their precious existence
just for us to be here, at this crossroads of sorts,
at this place where we stand.

The time to honor our parents has come.
The Torch has been passed down to us,
and its fire still burns.
Today we find ourselves in the midst of a beautiful moment,
where we can bring true change and reform.

Today we need the long-silenced sounds from our past
to be spoken and heard;
The voices of our forebearers’ bones, scattered across the desert,
speak their truths to a listening sky
as the clouds carry their inaudible words in the wind;
Roots, sing their sweet lullabies to their family trees,
Soft, lovely melodies reaching every branch, every leaf;
Waves of blue oceans bring peace to the souls
of those who found a new resting place
while on the everlasting quest to find Home.

Today we must know who we are
and where we come from.
We need to understand the depth of our heart
and the power it holds;
The power to experience empathy, compassion, and love;
The power to know the true meaning inside our sweat, tears, and blood.

Today we need to remember
what makes humans humane;
We need to remember what makes us equal,
regardless of creed, ethnicity, gender, or race.
We share this planet, this moment,
this air, just the same.

Do not fall victim to the ideology or the wicked
telling you we are different from each other,
and all of us different from the rest of the world.
Let us all be different together, united,
imperfectly perfect and beautifully flawed,
phantasmagorical echoes fighting fights that, sadly,
silhouettes of historical ghosts already have fought.

But still, we must fight.
We owe it to the next generations to hand them a place
that is better than the place we received;
A place with no room for discrimination or hate;
A place that can give the goddesses
that live among men
the equality, the safety, and the trust
they so truly deserve;
Let’s hand the new generation a place
where the definition of Justice
derives from the word Just,
even for those who swore to Protect, and to Serve.

We need to keep marching ahead and
hand down the Torch.
We will not be stopped;
Just like you can cut all the flowers,
but you cannot stop spring from coming.
Human progress will always find a way to keep going;
We can never be stopped.

About this poem: I tried to bring together the ideas that: those who came before us began the fights we continue to fight today; our ancestors suffered for us to be right here, right now; united we stand; there is so much more we can do; and we must do it for the next generation of this world. Hope it’s okay, and as always, I do wish you -reader- enjoy the reading of this as much as I enjoyed the writing.

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Sing to Me, Brandon


Content warning: suicide

Sing to me, Brandon
early hours of the morning
sky pretending in its darkness
that daylight never comes

Sing to me, Brandon
of the times we spent
drinking, laughing, living
before you went away

Sing to me, Brandon
of my failure to follow
of my scramble to live
and my fear of…everything

Sing to me, Brandon
in the nightmares you visit
with your eight-ball hemorrhages
shattered teeth in my mouth

Sing with me, Brandon
when we meet again
and all I’ve done since
won’t mean anything

Note: Spc. Brandon W. shot himself at 5:40 AM on a Thursday before PT. I tried to give him mouth to mouth, yet he still passed away. This still causes me nightmares and pain, even though it happened in 1998. I miss my friend.

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Change 4 What!

By BF aka Sadeyez

Why is it that when I’m happy
They seem mad

Why is it when I smile
They look sad

I look in the mirror
And wonder if it’s me that they see
Is it something in my teeth?

What could it be?

I try so very hard to be liked
Only to be hated

I must change

Should I change my hair?
(No) the voice said

Should I change the way that I talk?
(No) The voice yelled

Should I change the way I dress?
(Dammit I said nooo)

Then what should I change
I wanted to be loved Sadeyez

You are well put together by the
Hands of God

You are beautiful and much
More just the way you are

To hell with what they think
2 change 4 them is 2 be
Fake 2 you

So love you 1st
And the rest
Will follow

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My Feelings Burn


The most fragile part of me is our strongest connection
Your kisses live in my memory with the possibility that now offer me completion
I’m so well and it’s strange to be
I’m torn by misdirection
You are my queen, my ambassador
You amplify my aspirations
So, beautiful, I live for you as you live for me

This is such a happy ever after
You travel miles and pass the finish line
We’re starting on time
My tongue bears your name
If they knew where to look, they would find it
You showed me I am “I” because you are forever magnificent
The most amazing story ever told
So much more to be written, thank you

I only pray that my lips are as soft as yours
My wisdom flows so fluently from my mind
Your eyes read so truly of my spirit
Your laughter speaks the clarity of time
You are the “I” that I admire

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Get It Done


Trying to make it through
And get to the finish line
I feel like I’m going to pass out
But I continue and keep striving
Because this is not my last lap
Never giving up
Because I know things will get better
Gotta complete my mission
And get that chedda’
So don’t sleep on me
Because I know I’m the one
So keep going
And get it done

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First Poem


Is this how my life is supposed to end?
Alone and locked up in the pen, down on my luck and up against the wind
It seems like my confidence is slipping and setting in is depression and misery
I can’t blame nobody for this problem but me
My youngest daughter doesn’t even know me
And the others are grown and don’t need daddy no more
Thinking about that reality keeps me up at night and it hurts me to my core
I pray to God to help me to stay strong and survive
Help me to turn my life around for it is greatness that I strive
I know I wasn’t the best father in the world
But can’t nobody say that the most important thing to me wasn’t my girls
Even if it’s our bond you want to sever
Just know that you are tatted on me and will be in my heart forever
So as I sit in this cold, concrete box with a heart full of pain
I will not stop fighting until I’m one day free and with my girls again
So God please forgive me for my sins
For home with my girl is where I belong
Help me to right my wrongs and allow me to finally move on

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