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

Remembering My People

By PJ

Look at my people

And Grandma’s slow movement
In her knee-length gown, slippers on
Braids cover her head, like a crown
I love her bold features, her high cheekbones
Broad hands grip her snuff can, and her eyes
They have a far away stare
But they’re focused as they keep secrets

Daddy’s fat hands pat his afro, as he picks it
I love the smell of his cigarettes
He always looks at me like he can see everything
Like he’s far ahead of what I think; he’s so serious

Mama, with her determined walk, never a wasted movement
So patient, and understanding; a refuge of sorts, from Daddy
She always indulges me
It seems they look alike with their afros and their slacks, their button-down shirts
They say opposites attract; she’s as light-hearted and forgiving as he is intense

Brother’s smile, looking like Daddy
With Mama’s patience, Grandma’s wisdom, and my innocence
My faithful companion, my confidant
I try to mirror him with his smooth black skin and wavy hair
The way he sucks-in his cheeks and puckers his lips
I recall drawing a mustache over my lips to mimic the peach-fuzz over his

Grandaddy’s big feet as he walked, dragging his black, big shoes
I recall: his hat and coat hanging in the hall by the stairs; I’d try-on both
Still today, I remember the smell of the inside of his fedora
Like Barbasol and Old Spice
Look at me, remembering my people

Grandma’s wisdom came from her full lips as I looked into her tired eyes
Never can I forget the deep lines in her face; wrinkled
She told of times long ago before slipping again into her doze
Being as young as I was, I couldn’t comprehend when she talked about love
Older now, I realize: hers was a traumatic experience
Now I understand: she had enough hope to dance around intimate details of: whips and ropes

Once I heard Daddy talking to Mama, he mentioned
Being called a nig–, again- I call David that all the time
Daddy said: “It reminds me of Virginia where they hung Tim.”
He said he hates remembering: Tim’s body swinging and jerking; he could still see the twisted mouth
Daddy said: “I hate what happened in the South.”

Brother’s eyes, they look just like Daddy’s
When he came to see me I rushed him – to say goodbye
Later – they found him beaten and shot
Brother’s companionship is deeply missed as he slips into drug and alcohol addiction
Brother’s “tagging” at my hip is a memory only as he’s been engulfed by the streets
His naïveté replaced with ruthless ambition; a do or die attitude
To get money, there’s nothing he won’t do
How did my brother become enslaved in the 21st century?
New chains, a life sentence that he can’t escape
In a penitentiary

Mama’s cries sometimes are silent
But they’ve embedded and etched the pain on her face
She carries her sorrows everywhere, that way
Still she’s beautiful, in more than a weathered way
Surrounded by masculinity, she’s the glue
Without her what would we do?
When Brother died, I never saw her cry
When I cried, only a look of familiarity
After Daddy’s death she was the pillar of stability
She’s family quintessence
Where it begins

Look at me
Remembering my people

The Love for My Daughter

By SM

The love for my daughter is so strong
That if the San Francisco bridge was to collapse or break apart
It would put the fallen pieces back, holding it together forever
The love for my daughter is so bright
It could brighten the world like the sun brightens the morning
Or the moon brightens the night leaving no dark spaces on the face of the earth
The love for my daughter is so precious
It’s like holding on to a diamond necklace heirloom
That your great, great, great, great, great grandmother gave to your mother
And they passed it to you and said,
Never take it off, it will protect you
The love for my daughter is so unique
It’s like your first pair of Jordans you got on your birthday
That you never wanna mess up, so you step light
It feels like you floating or stepping on clouds gliding across the big blue sky
The love for my daughter is so important
It is like having Barack Obama in the mall with hundreds of secret service agents
And the street blocked off for miles, letting no one in
The love for my daughter is so powerful
It would resemble a punch or a haymaker being thrown by Iron Mike in his prime
The love for my daughter pushes me so hard to do great by her
It’s like Jackie Robinson in a baseball game that nobody wanted him to win
And doing everything in their power to make him lose
But yet he still found a way to calm his mind
Hit that home run and win the game

The Tears I Cry

By DWS

Look in my eyes
& you’ll see the tears I cry

As I lie back on my bed
The vivid memories of my family
& I flow through my head, I’ll be a liar
If I say, I didn’t see this coming

Growing up in the city of D.C
Wasn’t always peaches & cream for me
I was always told by many I’m worthless
& would never amount to anything

Many nights I’ve set in the dark
Wondering if there was someone
There who could heal my broken heart.

My father was never there
So my mother had to do it alone
Struggling just to make ends meet
Raising 6 kids in a 3 bedroom home
To see my mother do this taught me that
Women are very strong, & I praise her
Every day for not leaving me alone

That’s why it hurt me
Because I never got the chance to truly thank her
& say goodbye because I was sitting in an 8.10 cell
When she died, just the thought of it
Brings tears to my eyes

Now look at me & tell me
Can you see the tears I cry

The people I thought loved me
1 by 1 all started to dissipate
& I realize they were never there for love
It was just the material things & again I find myself
Feeling alone like I once did before

& I yearn for my heart to be healed once more
But the biggest pain of all makes
Me feel ashamed & weak so much so
That I catch myself crying in my sleep
& that’s knowing I’ve abandoned
My children as my father did &
Becoming him was something I never
Thought I’ll be. Wondering will they
Hate me like I hated him makes
Me shiver in fear from limb to limb

The black white walls of my cell
Turns into a movie screen
& the memories of my past become
My mental pain

I start to feel my eyes water
& then the tears flow
& I think to myself
When will my pain go
Inshallah it’s soon
But, I have to remain patient
Until I come to know

Although people see me smile
& laugh a lot
I often wonder if they can also
Look at me & see

The Tears I Cry

My Life Line

By VL
Dedicated to my beautiful niece Ana

It’s an honor to be your uncle
And a blessing to receive your love through your drawings,
Whenever I need some joy in my life
It’s you that I always think of.

Spiritually, you’re always in my prayers
Emotionally, you’re the blood that pumps my heart,
Mentally, you’re constantly in my thoughts
And physically, is the only way we’re apart.

Since the day my sister Nina had you
I’ve loved you like no other,
Well, one other person loves you as I do
And that would be your mother.

It’s always delightful to receive a picture, or drawing
From you and I think I know it will be astonishing when I
See your pretty face close up, I love when your mom
Sends me pictures of you, and from the look of things
In your pictures, you’re growing up quick ☺

You’re the most precious person in my life and I’m
Proud of all that you do,
You bring infinite joy to my days and nights in
Prison, especially when you say to me “I love you.”