I Forgot Who I Was

By HW

I woke up one day feeling powerless & caged.
I felt lost and afraid, it was freedom I craved!

I felt like no one loved me & I was all alone.
I felt young & lost, but I’m fully grown.

Beat down by life & my own mind.
I let myself down and I started to drown.

I could not see tomorrow
& felt like I could barely get through the day.

I don’t know who I am anymore,
like my memory started to fade.

Deep down inside I know I used to be strong,
then I remember that I have been strong all along.

I might have slipped,
I might have fell.

I have to stand up,
I have to prevail.

I must be fearless,
I must be strong.

It’s a mental battle
and I’ll make it home!

Her Name Is Streets

By AG

Why the old cry when the young die?
And when the young die
A newborn opens their eyes for the first time

Crime is programmed
To the mind of the young boy who is searching for love and shelter
Streets, she’s always the quickest helper

What you need money, drugs, violence?
Stop being silent
I love you, young boy

Streets whispers, “I’ve made people rich
I’ve made people poor
I’m that love you can’t ignore

Also I have 3 best friends named
Prison, Overdose, and Death
I’m going to be here for you when no one’s left

I’m Streets, the woman who softly caresses your chest
I grow no flowers, I’m concrete
A hard downfall for whoever falls on me
In case you don’t know my name is Streets.”

The Swim

By KC

I swim with the flow of the river.
The cold water cools not just my skin, but also my worries.
I can barely hear over the rapids.
I can barely see through the spray as it crashed all around.
I hold my breath, and my lungs burn.
My muscles scream out in protest as I strain to keep moving.
It’s a good feeling, honed over years of dedicated training.
It’s the same feeling I get when I awake, and thank God I’m alive.
For there is no greater freedom.
It is liquid life I swim through, confirmation I am alive.

In Her Eyes

By JG

I see the potential for forever
Subtle glimpses of lifetimes spent together
I see the heart of a mother
Tempered with the mind of a queen
I see an intelligent, competent conscious woman
Made for nothing less than a king
Strength and vulnerability are also there
Along with passion and compassion
And if I happen to be the vaguest question
She’s the specified answer
I see a deep ocean full of love
That’s barely been touched
And I just want to go deep sea diving
Giving her all of me
In exchange for us
Her beauty goes without saying
My soul yearns for more
Her eyes tell me likewise
And my soul is assured
I see the potential of forever
But if we ever part ways
I’ll always remember the power and potential
That live in her gaze

The Untold Story of Me

By AC

Inspired by the book Voces Sin Fronteras (Shout Mouse Press)

 

1985 I was born in El Salvador, right in the middle of a civil war. There was a lot of crime and poverty, because there were more pressing things for the government to worry about.

1991 A few months after my father left for the United States, my brother was born. Amazing brother. We kept fighting all the time, but he has always been there for me. My friend for life, though he sucks.

2000 We (my brother, my mom and I) came to the U.S. It was hard to get the hang of it (I might argue that I never truly did get the hang of it), but I managed. Life changed dramatically, mostly for the better.

2004 I graduated from high school. It felt like a stepping stone, but continuing education was a bit tricky with my immigration status. Also, that year my other brother (half) was born. I love him tons, as I do the other.

2010 After almost ten years of being in this country, I was allowed to get a residency. My doors opened wide and I started to make money at 8-hours-a-day jobs. Everything looked bright.

2012 A dark cloud came over my bright world. A series of bad decisions in my life led to my arrest this year, effectively destroying absolutely everything that had happened in my life up to this particular point in time.

2017-18 After thinking I had lost my VOICE, along with everything else due to my arrest, I discovered I still have a voice, even if my life as I knew it is effectively over. I discovered this in a Write Night letter, in some person’s comment that read something along the lines of : “A.C., I enjoyed your poem. I relate to [such and such a thing]. I liked [this and that]. Thank you for sharing, please keep writing.” I thought to myself: “People actually read these poems that A CRIMINAL has written? Someone read MY poem?” Not only were they reading it, they were relating. They were getting some sort of consolation from me, knowing that they were not the only people in this world to have these thoughts. That thought. They felt that in a way, my writing was helping them remember/realize that they were, in fact, not alone with their thoughts. “Wait, what? Helping? Me? A freaking criminal actually providing ANY kind of help back to the community that I felt I betrayed by breaking the law? I can help?” And so I push myself to share my thoughts openly/honestly so that people can see my vulnerabilities, and doubts, and regrets, and life lessons. I want people to see and comprehend that the world keeps spinning no matter what, and yes, we all have ups and downs, wins and losses. It’s all part of being human. I want people, all people, to simply see that they are not alone in this human experience. I’m a human too (though I’m an Alien…from another country). That’s why I write life lessons; sometimes the tone/mood is down, sometimes up, sometimes in love, sometimes hurt, sometimes hopeful, sometimes profound…etc. I want to show my human side, I want to show the man hidden behind my inmate #. I want to have a Free Mind.