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.

Broken Souls

By AE

They are cast aside, rejected,
Longing for that day, dejected,
Harboring torment, desperate,
Illusions of normality.
Twisted, sick, corrupt captors,
Like a black hole, it sucks you in;
The environment, the elements, rhetoric,
Nontransparent and hidden from society.
To our families, once begotten,
But now only forgotten,
They are broken around him,
Fallen, one by one, again and again.
The sickness is in the air…
But he fights it!
His gas mask, the only person who’s always cared,
Fighting to persevere, detractors become irrelevant,
His chin high, his chest out, he is benevolent.
He remains headstrong, steadfast, and whole,
And will never fall as a broken soul…

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Poem with a Verse

By AC

Let me take you to a place I like to go,
when I’m looking for some answers
to the many, many questions
about things that I don’t know.

There is no car that could take you on this road,
no shoes that could make your steps feel any lighter,
and there is no amount of magical concoctions
that could ease any of our pains
as we continue to march on.

We’ll have to travel East
until the East begins to blur
and slowly eliminates
any difference it can hold
in contrast with the West.

And we’ll continue on
until the North lifts up its arms,
becomes brothers with the South,
and respectfully embraces
in something resembling warmth.

When we get close to where we are going,
the clock will keep on ticking,
but its measurements will no longer mean a thing.
You can come and stay with me forever,
but there will be no one that could tell you
what forever really means.

At this place, the twilight lasts a little longer,
shining light on our ever-winding road
that ahead of us continues twisting
in contrast with how straight it may now seem
on the parts we’ve left behind.

We’ll need to find a way
to get off the road that we walk on
and get on to the trail
that will take us to the world that lies beyond.

When I get onto this trail, I always see a pond;
the dim light reveals shining silver water
that shows me the reflection of the person that I was,
the person I will be, and the person that I am.

On the horizon, I see mountains,
darkened by the distance,
hidden by the shadows
of all the things that are unknown,
unseen from where we are.

When the hypnotizing spell is broken
and I continue walking,
fireflies slowly begin to gather by,
lighting up for every thought and every idea
that proved way too elusive
to keep bottled in my mind.
Now they gently float on the warm breeze,
blessing me with light.

I keep walking until the ground is just no more,
until the water in the shining silver pond
begins to cascade off the side of this small world.
I sit down,
and I let my feet dangle off the edge
while I’m staring into space,
trying to figure out where the fireflies lights end,
and where the glowing lights from all those stars begin.

GOD, it’s all so beautiful out here.
You would think it would be cold,
but it feels so nice and warm.
The wind carries the familiar scents
of all the things I miss from home.

The starlights hit the water and then scatter,
shining light on to my face,
reminding me at once
of what I love about this place.

I check inside my pockets
for the things of value, I have brought.
Inside one of the pockets, I find a small, torn piece of paper
with a verse that I once wrote.
In the other, I have nothing,
and so I get the thought:
I am the richest man alive,
for I have nothing to distract me
from what really matters in this life.

And as I sit out here,
feet dangling on the edge of the whole world,
thanking whoever thought the earth was flat,
for I like to come here now
when nostalgia, loneliness, and sadness
take a hold of my poor soul.

I think about the stars,
and I feel their loneliness as well,
they spend their whole lives shining
in a place so far away.

I think about my loved ones,
I want to hug them,
I want to kiss them,
I want to tell them to their face
that I love them so very much,
every passing second of every single day.

I want to see the sparkles in their eyes,
I want to hear the glorious sounds,
of their laughter and their smiles.
I want all those things I love,
I want to live them once again.
I want all of those things,
all those things that give me strength.

Come, sit down with me.
Come, look at the stars with me, my friend.

 

About this poem: I just wanted to take the reader out on a field trip and bring him/her into my mind. Sorry for mess, I don’t usually have much company inside my head. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Good luck figuring out the symbolism.  

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Child of the Ghetto

By AF

Young child of the ghetto,
Through your eyes I can see
the pain,
Memories of the past roaming
through your
brain,
Friends, family, and the people
we used to know blood’s been washed up
by the rain.
Your heart then grew colder,
and acts of violence have gotten
bolder,
Feeling the whole world weighing
down on our shoulders,
And no longer caring whether we
live or die.
Young child of the ghetto
Young child of the ghetto,
I can feel your
pain
Disloyalty, deceit, betrayal, and
mischief
Is mainly what we see
when you live in Southeast;
I know because that child
was me.

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Elements

By MV

I was fortunate to walk this earth with my feet
To the earth will my elements go
Back to dust for someone else’s being, once I’m deceased

I was replenished by water, the sun’s rays against my face
Once I’m gone, my fluids will concede
Returning to its original stream

I meditated on my breath, synchronized with the wind
At one with the planet, on earth’s axis I slowly spin
Gladly I relinquish, exhale never again to take it in

The fire in my passion lit many trails ablaze
Eventually it too will meet the chill of death
As it returns to the coldness of space

I will be at peace, no regrets, no complaints
On how my life was spent
Thankful for my time, the elements, my temporary tent

As for my soul, whether there’s a heaven
Immediately after death I don’t know

Rumors of rewards, doctrines of Paradise
All I can do is be patient and enjoy this present life

 

Author’s note: I wrote this poem because of my experiments with meditation and Buddhist teachings. I wanted to convey my peace, not just in my living, but also the inevitability of death. What did I do with my elements? Hopefully by the time I come face to face with death, I can say that I used them wisely. Death has a lot to do with perception. Does one truly die if the elements that make up your essence remain? I know what I believe is to come, but logically I can’t know for sure. It’s more of a hope I hold inside. But what I do know, because it’s tangible, is the elements that make up my being, and for them I’m truly grateful.  

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Justice Is Blind

By TG

By TG

Justice is blind
or so I’m told
can’t see a thing
through that blindfold

She cannot see
color of skin
wealthiest king
or poorest kin

The Queen’s English
status by words
the ignorant
by misused verbs

My place of birth
my motherland
whether I am
woman or man

Adds to her choice
which way sword steers
she may be blind
but she can hear

Let’s not forget
her weighing scales
where pocketbooks
always prevail

The innocent
weigh a feather
silver or gold
weigh much better

And to her sword
the choice is clear
unbalanced scale
prejudice ear

Justice is fair
I’ve heard men say
because her sword
can cut both ways

Tooth for a tooth
eye for an eye
live by the sword
and you shall die

But if you’re rich
you need not fear
unbalanced scales
whisper in ear

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We Are All Kin

By QS

You are our sons and daughters
Whether we birth you into this world or not

That’s what the elders would say to the babies
While telling ancient stories around the village cooking pot

Our ancestors, when I close my eyes, I see and talk with them
Praying when I reach the promised land I’m worthy to walk with them

Never forget where you come from
The blood that runs through your veins

Beware, the white man will try to make you believe we are different
When genetically we are all the same

You must know the truth to free yourselves
Don’t be fooled by the pale man’s old divide and conquer game

Go research your history books
Uncover the lies they’ve been telling you
And when you find out the truth for yourself
You’ll realize the jewels I’ve dropped on you are true

Use your mind!
Stand up and be counted Black man
No one will do it for you
Only the man looking back at you in the mirror can

They hear the war cries (fear of the Black Planet)
The white man’s greatest nightmare has come

All the beautiful shades of Blackness once separated by lies
Now united by truth, marching as one

I said it before and I’ll say it again
Once we take the mental blindfold off our third eye
That’s the moment we will realize
We are all kin

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Untitled

By RW

When you feel sad
I wish you happiness

When you’re in doubt
I wish you faith

When you’re discouraged
I wish you hope

When you’re afraid
I wish you strength

When your heart is heavy
I wish you joy

When you’re troubled
I wish you peace

When you’re lonely
I wish you all love

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No More Silence

By Shannon

This is my cry for a stop in senseless violence,
How many lives must be destroyed before someone, anyone
Shout to the mountain top, no more silence, no more silence

How could we overcome, if a promised dream is never realized
Due to a nightmarish reality that must end and if no
One is willing to step up, where does the change begin
To reverse a maddening cycle of gentrification, of generations
Who look just like me and you, who they look up to and emulate

So whose responsibility it is, to be responsible, before
Its just too late and what excuse could justify
Such a decision, when it’s obviously a grave mistake
That will surely impact our community, and reflect a
Negative mindset that we must counter and combat
With an objective view towards positive progress
That begins with self-evaluation and a want for change
A choice to make a difference, that can lead to an act of
Forgiveness and self-liberation, with you as our witness
And our guide in this act of unification, of prisoners against
Gun violence, men who can no longer afford to be quiet
And our debt to society is no more silence, no more silence

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Untitled

By GD

Free me from the beast that holds the minds of many. Free me from that terrifying Roar which lies within me. Though it’s in a cage, it still shows his teeth. Silently waiting to attack those who caused grief. It sweats constantly and beads form around its brow. Yet it never alters only nourishes the thoughts of relieving its hunger like that of a crying child.

Free me from the Beast that turns men into Savages. Free me from a place where every day is tragic. Laws are in place to punish and tame. But evil begets evil, so immorality remains. The walls close in, and the hearts begins to pound. How can one amend, when the soul is broken down.

Free me from the beast that tells these awful tales. Free me from the coffin that’s designed as a cell. Is there such thing as Beauty in the world when all that surrounds the vision is hell? How can one survive with no sense of touch, taste, sight, or smell. If survival is key, life has led me astray. I no longer sleep, I die at the end of each day.

Free me from the Beast that forbids me to mourn. Free me from the screams of those who have long gone. Contemplating with each year that passes by. Suicide is not the first reaction. The inside has already died. No more dreams; no more goals; yes there’s blood in my eyes. Men don’t hold secrets; we secretly past lies.

Free me from the Beast that drains the mind of ambition. Free me from the binary chains of that we call religion. We must have killed God because the prince is winning. When you look at me, can you see my Venom? There are no fangs or peeled off skin but at times I slither. No natural selection, this evolution is richer. Free me from the Beast that I have grown to love. Free me from the home that I no longer think of.

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Silence

By SM

A moment of silence for the frontline workers risking their lives and those we have lost to COVID-19

Silence!
Close your eyes, inhale the essence of fresh air
And picture yourself floating on a cloud that heals your heart –
Cleanses your soul

Silence!
Picture yourself dancing in the rain
Ecstatic of overcoming uncertainty

Silence!
Picture yourself in the wake of a thunderstorm –
Sun breaking, rainbow in the sky

Silence!
Feel yourself at the ocean’s shore
Listening to the screaming waves

Silence!
Feel yourself at the riverbank
Anticipating going for a swim

Silence!
Breathe for the ones we lost –
Let your heartbeat carry their legacies over the hills of the valley
Through strong winds and under the sky of their heavenly home

Silence!
Kisses to the mothers, hugs to the fathers –
Gone but never forgotten

Silence!
Exhale and breathe life back into the world

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Crushed by the System

By TG

We fought the fight for freedom.
Stood strong to support equal rights
Generously given for the next generations
All lost when we let go the light.

Further our fathers have faded
So sons now stand in quicksand
Growing in the gutter of gall
Losing their lives to the land.

Wise women our daughters and wives
Sewn with the spirit of strength
Gilded with goodness and greatness
Lending love in unmeasurable length.

Fore ordain, foreseen, foreshadowed
Soaring songs to the stars that listen
Guardians of the gangling ganders
You will not be crushed by the system.

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My Crack in the Wall

By KC

Every day I awake in an open grave
And leave my slab to walk among the tombs

Massive monuments built to mark bad decisions and love lost
Life and freedom shattered by time being watched over by men with guns

I am not alone, for thousands walk with me
A nation of the undesirables left to rot above ground

Who like crabs hold each other back from reaching peace of mind
They thrive in the misery of their fellow man and thirst for dominance

They think the title King Crab is an honor
Don’t they see? King of the damned is still damned himself

I am different from most here
I walk in the land of the dead focused on life

Time is harsh, but my dreams have never decayed
Stepping stones made from ink on paper keep me on track

Words from loved ones lost, now found, tell me
I am human not an animal, and to never lose myself

Do or die among the dead until you get to the living
And never let the flame of life burn out, it connects us

So, I walk among the tombs every day
Looking for that crack in the wall, that slither of light

Today I’ve found her, and her name is…
Well that doesn’t matter

What matters in the end, today’s a good day
And my crack in the wall has just gotten a little bigger

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