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….

13

By GL

13
The number is
13
Amendment
13
I’m offended by
13
Co-defendant of
13
Convicted by
13
Let me hip you to
13…
Mass incarceration
Across the nation
In 1865
We was granted
Emancipation
Slavery was abolished
According to my
Knowledge
I learned this while in
Prison
They it the
Black man’s
College
The issues that’s at hand
Enslaving the black man
They freed the black man
Then issued their
Back plan
That was
13
Amendment
13
Abolished slavery unless
Convicted
That’s their scheme
Listen…
I know my opposition
No 40 acres
No mule
No home
No pot to piss in
No justice
Just cuff us up
And f*** us
Go in front of the judge
No liberty
It’s
“Just us”
Throw away the key
Then thrown into a cell
We pray
To a white Jesus
To free us
From white hell
13 amendment
I’m
Truly offended
They strategically reinstated
The same s*** that they
ENDED

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.

Sermon of the Slave

By KC

I refuse to be grounded
By the clock pounded
Instead I will fly as one with time
To be a legend and never die
I am self, the undeniable truth
Even though the masses deny my worth—
by denying my freedoms
I am self-bonded by Blood, Iron and Pain
Transported over seas and through time
A lifetime of hate created by ignorance from others—
and self-destruction within
But still I fight—still I rise
And one day I will be free

Family Picture

By LC

After Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Tony Lewis Jr.

There’s something missing with this picture
As I wake onto a random day
In a random hood
In a random city
In America
I listen
Listen to the voice of my mother
Shouting down the bickering of my
Little sister and little brother
But there’s something missing
So I look
Look to find my auntie on the couch
With my baby cousin in hand
Look out the window to find the neighborhood junkie
But he is not the MAN
I’m looking for
See that man has been gone for years
Gone from this family’s struggles
Gone from being this family’s muscle
Gone from this family’s daily hustle
Ironic that I used that last word
‘cause HUSTLE is what got him sentenced
To no return, L.I.F.E.
So my father is what’s missing with this picture
My uncle too
And to every other black child
In a random hood
In a random city
In America
I’m just like you too.