The Unknown Words of Solitude

By AP

They say I should be used to living in a cage
Because all my life I have been trapped in pain
But if they only knew solitude educated me and kept me from going insane

It’s true that I am a product of my community
And I continue to pray that one day society would stop judging me
And give me equal opportunity

The color of my skin doesn’t speak of who I am
So your insults don’t affect me mentally because I am well educated, talented
And proud of who I am

America can be so cruel and mean
But that has never stopped me from believing in my American dream

Hard times in the ghetto raised me to be mentally and emotionally strong
So when they tell me I will never be nothing after prison
It only motivates me to prove them wrong

I know that life after prison can be a success
Especially if I continue to be determined to succeed and have faith in myself

I Really Don’t Know

By D’Nell

I come from a long line of soldiers
We are as tough as a rope
I grew up in Stanton Oaks
They call me D’Nell
Because I’m real like steel
When I come around
It’s like I never left
My voice sounds like smooth jazz
It’s as mellow as a Sunday
My eyes are as brown as dirt
Right now my life is like hell
My future is as real as it can get

Speak Your Truth

By AL

W.O.R.K…!
Allow your words to define who you
are through your actions.

And trust that I see you for you,
because we’re all aiming to reach
the same goal,
A perfect place to embrace
amongst the multicolor of the
rainbow.

Like the North Star you shine brightly.
Therefore cast your light to the voiceless
while striving to provoke change,
Expressing gratitude laughter and love
in the presence of your own pain.

Don’t be fierce in your quest for love
and reject all forms of hate.
For tomorrow is not promised to us
so grab the spotlight now, or forever
wait.

I can see the caterpillar “Trans”–
forming into a beautiful Butterfly.
Bare your soul to the world and
allow life to be your only natural
high.

Let your spirit run wild through the
fields of unlimited youth.
And each day as you become who
you say you are, bravely
Speak Your Truth.

*A special dedication to the Mysteries of the Rainbow. Happy Pride Month. * 

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!

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.