Me and Jim Crow

By PJ

Twenty years in ADX.*
I’m asked, a lot, one question:
How long have you been here?
First, let me tell you something I know:
(Feared, is the unknown;) it is the confined person’s ghost.

When I was told: “the short trip,”
I couldn’t wait to get with “it”;
to act a fool.
For two decades, really, I haven’t moved.
It seems: I’m going in circles, but before
you jump to conclusions, understand: basically,
we all (are going in circles). Some big,
some smaller than others; we live by: clocks.
The earth revolves around the sun; I crossed a lot.

Administrative Maximum is a microcosm of society.
All the problems, symptoms, epidemics in our cities
are gathered here (again), interacting.
What wasn’t solved there,
resurfaces here.
It’s an environment where: you’re constantly
fighting insanity.
That, accompanied with: maintaining your safety
and trying to stay alert.

As an African American today,
in the Criminal Justice System, ADX,
has been a way to search: myself.
As many things here, the inside becomes: meshed,
in adaptation with outside forces.
(Weakening, or strengthening, building, or destroying.)
Sometimes what we consider: a curse,
can be: a road (a beginning), a door; our cure.

In the Era of Mass Incarceration,
as an African American,
I feel: very much, like a commodity;
as I come to the realization: (monetarily),
others have “set-up,” (taken liberty),
to map-out what they feel is: my destiny.
(A rightful place) as they gain. From a
long ago, enacted (scheme) to hamper the slave.
As with The United States Penitentiary, ADX, now I know:
(That scheme) has become known
as: Justice, Criminalization, Incarceration, The New Jim Crow.

*ADX refers to a maximum security federal prison. Everyone incarcerated there is held in solitary confinement.

My Poem to Y’all

By AT

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
Can’t write home, cuz Mom NEVER write back

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
Baby mother block the jail phone, can’t speak to my daughter
because she messing with another dude

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
Don’t have no money, can’t go to commissary
and only get $5.21 every month
for a excellent job I do

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
The officer’s racist, they tie you up
and beat you and wait till you heal
and send you on another compound
and think that everything’s cool

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
I am going to stay Free Minded and
kill them with kindness, that’s what I am
going to do

I’m lock up thinking what should I do:
I’m staying positive and have to just
find me a positive crew

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!

Untitled (I Wake)

By LC

I wake
to the sun rising in the East
the rays burning my eyes
as I shake off the sleep

My first vision is bars
before a screen and a half open window
beyond that is cages
a gun tower and twenty foot wall

Then I see something else, everyday
that should give hope to all
High upon a pole. It waves at me
Sometimes to the East, sometimes to the West

Surrounded by blue skies and white clouds
Both symbols of freedom
Both symbols of life
Today I feel neither, tomorrow will be the same

I am of the world, but not in it
So I stare out the window and wonder, WHEN
When will I live my life in this manner
Of life, of liberty and the pursuit of happiness

WHEN, I ponder as I look at the star spangled banner

Fertile Concrete

By GL

Lead and fire, erupted out of the stainless . . . steel weapon of humane destruction
Lead and fire has left a heart broken; a napkin soaked in; tears of grief
Which pours out of the crease of 2 eye sockets
Then rolls down the cheeks of a grieving soul
onto the surface of a sleeping man child
Who open his eyes, then show his grandma his dimples and gummy smile
Then he fills his lungs up with air, ball up his little hands, kick his legs
then allow the church to become acquainted with his presence

In a setting which is sad, the young lad, who never had
the luxury of knowing his dad – Grew up to be a college grad
Through correspondence – Through the walls of correctional institutions
Un-consciously volunteered in the destruction of his neighborhood
Because he only knew of no better options . . .
Grew up in a culture of crime
Where money is worshiped and tough guys drop dimes
The world tried to rob him out of his prime
But he primed his mind with knowledge
Now he obtain raw power
I believe that the concrete produced a rose
but all you probably see is a flower.