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

Smile

By GD

I was still a juvenile and convicted as a child
Though sentenced as an adult
But still I smile…
I think about my reality and realize just how real it is
Then I laugh….
I don’t laugh because it’s funny
But because its “funny” how a young black man could
So easily succumb to his environment
But still I grow…
I’ve come to know many things, dreamed many dreams
All while living a nightmare
But still I ponder…
I’ve created wonderful things once I considered my intellect
As a key to unlock the box my mind’s been in for years
So now I know….
Though life has its adversities, and sometimes it can
Be a tremendous burden
I still got to walk that extra mile
Even if my feet are hurting
So, I’ll continue to smile….

Surrounded/Rodeado

By LV

Surrounded by concrete walls.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude.
Surrounded by concrete walls that don’t distance me from reality.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one dreams – that are kept away in prison cells.

Rodeado por paredes de concreto.
Rodeado por un inmenso sentimiento de soledad.
Rodeado por paredes de concreto que no me alejan de la realidad.
Rodeado de uno-y-mil sueños frustrados – que en celdas de prisión están aguardados.

Surrounded by concrete walls.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude; that attacks my thoughts.
Surrounded by concrete walls, surrounded by a strange feeling that starts playing inside my head.
Surrounded by concrete walls, where you only hear the voice of solitude; that sings to my heart to the slow beat of a tormented heart.
We keep on walking through the valley of solitude.

Rodeado por paredes de concreto.
Rodeado de un inmenso sentimiento de soledad; que ataca a mis pensamientos.
Rodeado por paredes de concreto dentro de rodeado por extraño sentimiento que comienza a jugar dentro de mi cabeza. Rodeado de paredes de concreto donde lo único que se escucha es la voz de la soledad; que le canta a mi corazón al ritmo lento de un corazón atormentado. Seguimos caminando por el valle de la soledad.

Surrounded by concrete walls.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one problems.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude, that flirts with my heart in the darkness of the night; and it invites to dance to the slow beat of a tormented heart. We keep on traveling the most traveled road.
“The road of forgotten.”

Rodeado por paredes de concreto.
Rodeado de uno y mil problemas.
Rodeado de un inmenso sentimiento de soledad, que le coquetea a mi corazón en la obscuridad de la noche, y lo invita a bailar al ritmo lento de un corazón atormentado.
Seguimos caminando, recorriendo la calle más transitada “la calle del olvido.”

Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude.
Surrounded by concrete walls, where the voice of solitude is the only thing you hear.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one memories of the past.
Surrounded by one-thousand-and-one frustrated dreams — that are trapped in prison cells.
Surrounded by an immense feeling of solitude, that attacks my thoughts.
We keep walking through the valley of solitude.

Rodeado de un inmenso sentimiento de soledad.
Rodeado de paredes de concreto, donde la voz de la soledad es lo único que se escucha.
Rodeado de uno y mil recuerdos del pasado.
Rodeado de uno y mil sueños frustrados que en celdas de prisión están atrapados.
Rodeado de una inmensa soledad, que ataca mis pensamientos.
Seguimos caminando por el valle de la soledad.

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.

Jim Crow

By JS

A Nation divided by frustration.
From racism, slipknots in a noose
Resulting in Asphyxiation.
Just from looking…at a woman that’s Caucasian.

I now know that liberty for all is a fraud,
And the symmetry dividing a friend and enemy
Is the line between the grave of a slave
And a “white” man’s ideology.

Like biology, I learned to dissect through
The flesh of a frog’s false reality,
That it can live in freedom
In protection of nature.

But like me
(Emmett Till)
He’s captured
For a tortuous experiment
Caused by hatred.

It’s like my soul feels
The vibrations
Of a tortured slave’s scream,
Begging for liberation.

Losing patience….
So I’m pacing….
In my cell praying
To God for blessings.

But my fundamental nature
is God’s essence.
So everyday I wake up
I’m in God’s presence.

This is God’s lesson.
If John 10:34 is true
Then I’m a vessel
For the miracle of God’s message.