I Am

By BB

I am because I am alive
I am because I have suffered and still survive
I am because I see the light
I am because I am one with mankind’s plight

I am because I feel
I am because I hurt and I heal
I am because I exist
I am because I stand up to oppression and resist

I am because I am a human being
One who felt and seen many a thing
I am because I am here
I am because I love and I care

I am because I make mistakes
To become better I am doing whatever it takes
I am because I am not perfect in my doing
Many failures have resulted in the goals that I am pursuing

I am because I keep on trying
I am now but one day I will be dying
I am because I came and went
I am because when I left the earth I left my footprint

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.

Protecting My Energy…

By GL

I’ve made peace out of chaos,
by taking a piece out of chaos…
for chaos is but an imbalance to the natural disorder
of the universe.
So, I trained my mind to freeze the earth
So I can take the MC out of square…
Once you take Mass and Matter out of the equation
You’ve created a space, where negative energy dissipate
Where it used to be “Air”…
Riddle ME.
I am, who I tend to be
My vision is what many pretend to see
I have the ability to create my own destiny
The sign and symbols resting next to me.
…and believe it or not.
Adversity is the main verb, that’s protecting me.

Future and Past

By TB

See you soon, old friend
When we grow to become men
We are family, my brother
That’ll never change
Goodbye, old me
We are better now
We shall grow
We are stars
No one can change that

Forgotten Wings

By MS

Forgotten wings
Disused & abandoned
Tricked self into believing that you (we) couldn’t fly
World weary… head heavy
Barely sleeping
Fitfully resting my eyes
Dazed

Does this pass for dreaming
I can feel the wind on my face
Eyes – wide open
I can see these wings carrying me to the other side…

At second glance, I realize that I am dreaming
It wasn’t me soaring
Dis-used & abandoned
Seeking the courage to spread my wings
And fly on forgotten wings