JH Artwork

JH Artwork

Writing Exchange 2006-2018

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Siskiyou, El Dorado, Placer, Fresno, and Butte County. Students are given journal topics and asked to write what needs to be written. Several entries are handpicked from each classroom site and posted to the blog anonymously. Students at each site then read the material together, discussing the writing and connecting with others.

Planned Exchanges

Planned Exchanges 2018: May 3; More To Come!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Entry #1635
Endless Sleep
Development of the black sable,
stereotyped by fuming rhythms
that ensured preoccupied circumstances.

A weary sickness,
energized with wine,
I imagine the velvet sky.

Encouraging fumes of glass beads,
reserved to cherish the overlooked bed,
I fall into insensitive sheets,
into a woeful stew of neutral darkness.

Entry #1636
Forever Sleep

pitch black inferno.

Loud fans
fighting the depression.

cobalt blue skies,
yet still pitch black
through my eyes.

The phone rings and I can’t find it.
Falling, can’t catch myself.

Trying to hide from death,
but I think it found me.

Entry #1637
Chemical Imbalance
A loaded gun.
Hatred flowing through my heart.
Lights flashing icy white.
Nike sweat
seeping through my socks.
Freedom lost.
Give up,
or kill.

Finding myself trapped
lost in my thoughts.
A trail that goes nowhere.

Entry #1638
I Got Two New Best Friends
I’ve got two new best friends:
loneliness and depression.
I feel my body hurting
from the way I’m always stressing.

I try and talk to God
but I’m so tired of confessing.

To all the men that hurt me
man, the pain is just aggressing.

But I’m still alive

So maybe I should count my blessings

Maybe I love cuffs
from the way that they be hugging me?

Or I like that hall, cuz I was fed,
and it’s just so comforting?
But when I go away,
I’m not the only ones who’s suffering.

Entry #1639
Tender and outraged
dwelling on thoughts of the past.
Assaulted by a host demons called memories,
tormented by the sounds and screams of those last words.
Deprived of a clear mind by the remembrance that clogs it.
Trying to remain calm,
but because those ghosts never fade,
I’m oblivious to the world.
Expected to be like the others,
but because of this I am different.
Physical wounds hurt,
emotional wounds cut deeper.
I’m left hoping if I don’t acknowledge them,
tomorrow they won’t be there.

Entry #1640
The Paths I’ve Chosen
                I noticed bad things happen to the wrong people in life, but in my world, bad things usually happen to bad people. My life has not been all positive, I mean, I can admit I sure do have my wrong doings but overall I can honestly say I am not proud of them. I know I have made many of my love ones disappointed but I also know that they still love me in their own unique ways.
When I was in 7th grade, I chose to smoke weed instead of getting an education. While my family was upset with me, I was too busy rolling up another blunt to see it. My addiction led me…not going to school, being around gang members, and becoming one too.
When I was 15 years old, I caught my first case. I was in a stolen vehicle with four other females. When the cops rolled up on us, I decide to take the chargers because in my head, “I knew what I was getting myself into as soon as I walked into the situation.” After, I started running away, robbing (people, cars, and stores) because at the time I had to make my name known in order to become a gangbanger. Ever since, I’ve been in the system. I never found my way out, instead I always found myself back in, facing these four walls multiple times.
Now, that I am 18 years old and back in here I have realized that I have made a mess out of myself over the past 2 years. I chose to make one bad decision that affected me in many ways. But as far as I know, while being in custody I can say that one good thing that I am getting out of this, is that I am moving towards my high school diploma by continuing to go to school. The notion that I am being released with no probation feels like a fresh start. I will make this new start into a forever life because I can be a successful person that I know I can be.

Entry #
When I Get Out of the Hall
Taking action
When I get out, I will be freed
I am going to go to school
Get my education
Going to be a floweriest
I am going to stop doing drugs
I am not going to run away from life
I am going to face my fears
Trying to get my life back together

Or Relapse

Going back to old habits
Same crowd of people
Same addiction
Relapse is a part of life
Going back from where you started
Where I am at now
Shows me the consequences of my action
Forgetting the past in order to move forward
If I go back to old habits, I am going to lose every thing
Education, family, trust, myself

When I get out the hall things will change
Things will be different

Entry #1642
When the Lights Go Off
Those restless nights, with haunted images.
The difference between us,
they have dreams,
I have night terrors.
Resisting sleep because they seem so real.
I recognize they are not just nightmares,
memories replaying over and over.
The medicine was working but they took it,
clueless to what goes on when the lights go off.
Exhausted through the day
because of the screams
that pierce my mind at night.

Entry #1643
Different Things
I think things will be different when they release me, because before I got locked up here I was a mess. I was using drugs every day plus I wasn’t eating or sleeping right. When night time would come I would go into the neighborhood looking for things to steal to support my drug habit, or to just get some money in my pocket. I would look for bikes or motorcycles in garages. When I found some I would come back and steal them later on. Sometimes I would steal from my grandma’s purse. Now that I’m sober and think about stealing from my grandma I get mad at myself. These few months that I’ve been locked up the juvenile hall has done a lot for me, I’ve put on a lot of needed weight since I’ve been here. I also had three huge warts on my left hand frozen off. I have four months left to do. When I finish my time and get released in June on the 19th I’m going to take care of myself and go to the Grizzly Academy where I can train myself as a cadet to get ready for one of the branches of the military. I’ll be leaving all the negativity and same people behind to better myself.

Entry #1644
Loaded with overwhelming anger,
rapidly pushing to the limits,
bringing the addiction of quick comfort.
It's my method of vandalizing humble flesh.
The affection of primrose garden-colored grooves,
followed by the overpowering pleasure.
The release and emptiness of all feeling,
it takes a while, but everything mends.
There will always be signs of weakness,
no matter how hard I try, the habit stays.
The power to be free and careless
is too wonderful to release.
No matter how much time goes by
the addiction stays
I'm pathetic-
a woeful stew of neutral darkness.
Entry #1645
The Edge
Life, like a thin yarn
swimming in a dark cavern full of water.

Shamed by the truth,
not feeling accomplished
in this game of life.

Like a deep flesh wound on the heart
Like a bird stuck in a cage
Full of sadness and rage

Entry #1646
Where I Live
I was born in a nearby hospital. When I was three year-old we moved. I had it hard being the youngest boy in the house. When I was six years, old I started school getting into fights. I try my best not to get in trouble anymore. When I was eight years old, my mom put me in football to stop me from gang banging. I was good at football when I started playing it. Eventually, I stopped playing football and went back to getting into trouble. I live in the streets.

I did not want to go home at all because I was a hot head. At twelve, I started going to jail. It was a repetitive thing for me. Juvenile felt like a second home to me. I have been back and forth to jail. I had a best friend who was always here for me. I do what I have to do to make it out of here so I can keep my family out the ghetto.

Entry #1647
Right now I feel
so alone.

Can't I just
go home?

I know I did
Something wrong,
but I know we can all
move on.

Freedom is always
so far away.
I keep taking it
day by day.

I just have to believe
it will get better.
I know I won't be
here forever.

Entry #1648
My life
I keep looking at these white walls
and blue doors.
My mind tells me to give up
and sink to the floor.
I miss being loved
and being able
to look above.
I thought I could
achieve my dreams,
but that's not
what it seems.
My world has gone
upside down
and it has me spinning
and around.

Entry #1649
Locked Away and Forgotten
Locked away and forgotten.
Missing the light,
hoping to be free.

Wishing it was different
knowing that it's not.

Trying to change
but stuck in one place.
Missing my life
but I'm the one who ruined it.
It was a fun night.
Iit ended with me locked up.

Wishing it was different
but knowing that it's not.

Entry #1650
Despicable incarceration has me all alone
lusting for my freedom
aching to go home.

The ruthless clock travels slow
lost in this struggling world
searching for myself
all I really want is to be free.

Entry #1651
Big Changes
When I get out of Juvenile Hall this year, things will be different. First, because I will finally be off of probation and will be turning eighteen a couple of days later after my release date. I will also be a graduate after I leave Juvenile hall, and will be ready to start college in August. When I start college, I will be attending classes for welding. At this moment, I am currently in the welding class at Juvenile hall. My dream is to be a welder. I am also deciding to be a part of the California National Guards Program. This program is a six-month program in which youth are taken away to learn military experiences, including physical activity. I think both options will be good for me, but I will only be able to choose one for the moment because they both start around the same time. When coming across the negative environment of my past it will not be a problem because I will be away from my hometown. I am glad things will be different for me when I get out because I will no longer be getting into any trouble. Things are really going to change in my life for good.

Entry #1652
Moving Forward
Impulsive decisions based on how I feel inside
searching for myself
who knows what I’ll find.

Missing organization and close relationships,
unity intrigues me.
In a race against time
and it always seems to beat me.

Time I will never get back.
Stay productive in order to stay on track.
Dedicated to the commitments I make
Stay with perseverance.

Don’t call yourself my homie
if you don’t offer reassurance.
My respect and loyalty run deep-
deeper than the roots of a wild fig tree.

I will succeed.

Entry #1653
Walking Out
Throughout my whole life
I’ve endured adversity. I’ve overcome it all.
I will overcome this as well and leave this cell.
The system can’t hold me forever.
When I leave here, I’ll be better.
Entry #1654
Mind Trip
I trying to find a better life, but
These chains in a person’s way
Every night I talk to God and ask
Him for better days
I’m just trying to find some love but this
World is full of hate
So it ain’t no second thought if I’m
Loading up the kay
And the drugs made me numb so I smile
Through the pain
Even if you’re in my shoes, you still
Couldn’t relate
Take a journey through my mind
Don’t worry -  I’m going to be ok. Journey
Journey through my mind as I
Work towards better days
                Take a journey through my mind.

Entry #1655
One Nation under God
My mother
Also my father
we traveled from Mexico to the U.S
I wish I could have gone farther.

Raised to fear God
forget my roots
and the kingdom I came from.

Ashamed of the person I became,
because to the U.S I came.

In Mexico, I should have stayed
I belong in the south.
These are some things I think,
yet can never say out loud.
No one is to blame.
This is the way I was raised,
because to the U.S.
I came.

Entry #1656
Wishing for Apathy
I didn't do it for you
I did it for me.
I tried to be free
but got caught up in the thought.

F love
nothing happens.

Go ahead, touch me
but don't feel me.

I shouldn't be the one you see.
I have no feelings                              
Don't you agree?

Entry #1657
An Unconditional Love
In the dictionary, the meaning of “unconditional” is- non-conditional or not limited. The love I hold in my heart for my mother is truly unconditional. Over the years she has raised me, she has come to be not only my closest friend, but also my biggest supporter. She has gone beyond her motherly duties to make sure I am sheltered, fed, and in the right state of mind. Despite everything I have put her through, all the troubles I have caused, not once has my mother turned her back on me. Not once has she second guessed her love towards me, or abandoned any of my needs.
Every time I’ve fallen she has been right behind me to lift me up, every heart break, every crying moment, every problem I’ve experienced, she’s been right there beside me. Never has she looked down upon me as a person, nor treated me differently regardless of my wrong doings.
She has never compared me to others, and never expects any less or any more from me - To her eyes I am perfect despite my crimes or the mistakes I have made. No matter the situation, she has never judged me or thought of me as any less than her daughter. I am grateful I was brought upon life from her teachings and grateful I was raised by such a wise, amazing woman.
She is by far the strongest person I have met, and the one who earns the most of my respect. I could never imagine a life without my mother in it, and I hope she is aware that all her hard work, patience, and kind endurance has not gone unnoticed, and is greatly appreciated. I can never thank her enough for blessing me with this wonderful life, I sometimes feel I do not deserve.

Entry #1658
I Don’t Know
Puffing on cyanide
chilling in my swim trunks
next to the nocturnal sea.

I live this crazy life
and my mom don’t know why.
I like the life I live.
If I don’t change I’ll end up in prison,
or the grave.
Entry #1659
Lost and Alone
You are the fixer and I am the breaker.
Feeling as useless as a rock, sighing and breathing.
Dwelling on the past, and what we could have been.
And to think I just shrugged and left you.
Emotional and vulnerable, like a lost child.
Filling the boxes, missing the smell of the tide.
I miss you still, all I do is wonder.
At first I thought it would last.
Now to me it was all a blunder.
I feel like a cave, empty and dark.
I am lost and don’t think I will ever find my way back.

Entry #1660
Big and bad like a wolf.
I will blow your house down
just because I want to.

I hate you and you hate me.
Today is dark.
I want to hide in a cavern.
Maybe one day I will come out.


Entry #1661
 My Home Town
I believe the town I was raised in turned me into the person I am today. Why do I feel like this? I believe my home town is not as safe as it was in the old days. People in my town are all in gangs and selling drugs. People are into fighting when someone looks their way too long and stealing from their loved ones. I found myself to be like the people in my town. I was into gangs and fighting for insane reasons. I was raised around nothing but drugs and violence so that is all that fills my mind. I wanted to be like my older cousins and get money the way they did by selling drugs, stealing from the malls and people walking on the street. So I do feel like my hometown turned me into a person I am today. I regret losing my cousin to the streets and being locked up hurting myself and the people around me. I’m just angry with myself for turning out like the people around me. I wish was my hometown was a much better place.

Entry #1662
Forever to be Found…
A rose that grew from concrete
be humble, your day will come.
So beautiful and pure
sticking out from the crowd.

They follow behind me
trying to prove themselves,
but I don’t care; I never will.
I wait for some magical sign to prove to me
Show me something different
But the rose is slowly dying
Petal after petal until I’m almost to my last.
What I was looking for
was standing first in line.

Entry #1663
Blood Roses
Red roses pose a mark of beauty
But deadly like potions
The smell of good memories but leaves your body floatin’
Shows you a reason to never be gloatin’
A mark of resemblance to keep your mind open
Dar, as the blood like what has you chokin’
The color of the devil but may the lord have you hopin’

Entry #1664
I Need an Eraser
The occasional bargain
of gruesome anger vulnerable to
a habitual addiction.
Repetitious expectations
deepened until dissipation.
Again and again,
straw hat, shirts, and tropical tide doors.
Occasional, suspicious privileges
approached impetuously.
The foreseen incarceration,
when fleeing from probation.
My life is a broken pencil.

Entry #1665
Waiting on my appeal, hoping that I win
Hoping for the best, but I’m knowing I’ll hit the pen
Did what I did, so it is what it is
Got it out, she knows what time it is
Momma, sorry for all this pain
Separated for years, but our love is still the same.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. I took the whole blame
Never left a brotha behind. I never said a thang

Entry #1666
Things Will Be Different
Things will be different because I am going to make them different for myself. This is my 14th time here at the juvenile hall. I am tired of it. I eat the same food every day; I do the same routine every day. This gets old. I like to go to the beach with my family in the summer; and go snowboarding in the winter. I don’t like being confined and being told what to do by people I do not even know. I realize this is something I have brought upon myself. There is change, and the change is in me.

I plan on getting out of juvenile hall and becoming somebody. Everyone has always told me I will never amount to anything. I’m always acting out or using drugs. “Following in my father’s footsteps,” as some people say. I am tired of always being here. I’m a smart individual, and I know I don’t belong here. The power is in my hands now and I can do it. I want to make my mom proud of me and by always being incarcerated, I cannot do that. However, by me going to school and focusing on my education, that is my way out. I can go to school and then move on with my life.

Negativity is always going to be there but if I can be the bigger person and walk away then that means, I am ready to change. When I get out, it starts with me. I will have a fresh start and if I want something, I will find a way to get it. If that is something positive, I can get it. I am going to stay away from the negative people I was always going around, and that is what I was doing wrong. I can change and I am ready to change and it starts with me.

Entry #1667
Life’s Choices
Like a wave,
opportunity comes and goes.
If taken wrong
you’re deprived of your surroundings.
With a simple choice
you could be in blue and yellow clothes.
You think you’re out of the water,
but in reality, you’re drowning.
Only a portion know
the real struggle.
You could say I’m talking to demons
but truly it’s Satan.
Growing up I heard,
“Be respectful and stay humble.”
They said don’t take a life,
but I’m really contemplating.
These are life’s choices,
so I stay in my bubble.
I took life’s choices
and now they’re all instigating.

Entry #1668
Sprinting for freedom
I’m on my last lap
I’m slowing down,
but I know
I should pick up my pace
Bright lights shining
down on me
Loud noisy clicks
wake me up
I’m high off my meds,
I can’t stay up.

Put in the system.
Guards always yellin’
They trip if you tellin’,
but everyone does.
They so young,
tryna be thugs.    

Entry #1669
I’m ready to go home,
but time’s going as slow
as molasses.
13 more unforgiving Wednesdays
to go, until I leave this place.
I wonder sometimes
how I will do on the outs.
Will I do good?
Will I do bad?
There’s  only one way to find out.
Hopefully they come
to this realization soon.

It’s only been 12 months.

Entry #1670
I Got It
The sorrowful phone suddenly went calm
lifeless sound encouraged panic.

Cold hearted inspectorate is closing in,
the wickford bay door sprung ajar.
Ting-ting of numbers rapidly being punched,
humble ringing returned,
the elite wisteria light began to shine,
pessimistic feeling of nothingness vanished.

Entry #1671
Juvenile Hall, it is not a fun place to be. Not everyone will experience it either. I on the other hand, have experienced Juvenile Hall Campus. Everyone makes the statement, “When I get out of the hall things will be different.” I admit to it as well. Making the statement a truth is difficult and a challenge. I believe I WILL do it; I love a challenge.
Something I will face when I get out is the temptation to start doing the same things I did to get me here. This probably will not ever go away. As I have been serving my time, I have been putting things into perspective. The most important reason for me not to become the same person I was before is to prove the people who said I could not do it, wrong. I realize too, that I have to be a role model for my younger siblings; they see what I do and might think it’s okay because they look for comfort in my actions as an older sister. The last reason that hits home with me is to do it for myself. I have seen and realize the difference in my life when I am doing well or bad. I love to live my life freely and in good or high spirits. I am an extrovert and an inquiring person. Being in custody hinders me from being that person. It makes me a person I do not want to be. I cannot express myself freely and move with the energy I have. There are just so many limitations to my personality and seeing that in here makes me want to make sure I live my life to where I’ll almost never put myself in a situation to end up back here.
Coming into custody is a lot easier than staying out. It is not something I am proud of, I am just stating the obvious. It will be difficult but I love a challenge and this is playing with my freedom so I am sure I will avoid it at all costs. The first thing I have to work on is my environment, to end up in the same one that got me here would be insane and I would realize it in a split second. To prevent that, I would have to change it overall, along with my peers. Friends HAD a big impact on my decisions in the past. I always looked for a comfort in them from what I was missing at home. I also wanted to impress THEM, but now I have a plan and goals set in place that I didn’t before which makes a “friends” opinion IRRELEVANT! Now, I can take the initiative.
I am 17 but will remain on probation until six days after my 18th birthday. By then, I want to see myself enrolled in College to start working on my business and real estate degrees. After junior college, I would like to transfer to Spellman or Atlanta University. I will graduate and become a licensed real estate agent and receive a business degree to help my mom (who has a culinary degree) open a restaurant.
Being in here is all about the future! I think about the future. I do not want to come back or ever see myself in a cell being told: what to do, how much to eat, and when to shower. Everybody has the opportunity to take the initiative and make decisions that will take you farther away from coming back. To do that, you cannot lie to yourself, whether it be good or bad, only you can decide! It all starts with what you do to change when you get out.