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 24; June 27; July 25; More To Come!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Entry #1672
Any Human Being
I want to hate you. I hate everyone because of one person…because of you. Including the pain and the abuse, you repeatedly hurt me and I just want to know why. Why you did what you did when I was only six. You stripped me from my innocence. Everyone I come across sees me as a victim. It's like a red flag that says "Already been abused, so go ahead and try again. It'll become the new normal." I see father--daughter relationships and it's awkward for me, but I shouldn't be thinking like that or feeling that way. What's the love of a man? Or the love of any human being? I know there is love, because I love. But am I the only one?

Entry #1673
Forgive Me
So you have a young girl trying to sleep
But her minds filled thoughts that drive her insane
From a dirty look she catches a fade
Cuz she was like, too young when her dad passed away
So she needs love and she runs to the game
A stubborn lil girl who's trynna get paid
And she's scared of nobody they all know her name
But if you see her smile it'll make your whole day
A girl who has heart and loyal to the game
She slang bricks and still she get A's
She only stayed in school cuz she had brains
But this young girl she sees nothing in life
Rather than doing drugs she's making sure her paper look right
She’s got so many pills at the bottom of her sprite
But she loves the ****** rush of a fight
She would rather use her hands than a glock or a knife
And she has suicidal thoughts when she lay down at night
But she never listens to the voices in her head
Same voices saying, “Get out before your dead.”
So every night when she’s try and go to bed
All she thinks about is the clips with lead
She going to hustle til the day that she’s dead
And she thought she was her own enemy
till she realized she was the only one on her team
She stood tall cuz she had a high self-esteem
She doesn't care for looks, she want her cup filled with lean
Cuz she doesn't want to talk she just wants to drink
And she hopes to one day swallow the pain
So she ran to the streets and fell in love with the game
The life of crime is her instrument she loves to play
She zones out as the sounds of gun shots replay
She asks for forgiveness, on her knees to pray
But she gets up and says it'll be okay
Cuz to get a rainbow you gotta have some pain
So hopefully it pours to wash away the pain 

Entry #1674
Where I come from ….
I’m from a street where people get killed or locked away.
I’m from faith in getting out of the ghetto.
I’m from a long line of people who have cold hearts.
I’m from confusion about the meaning of life.
I come from a big family, but only talk to a small amount.
I’m from love, and I know that because of my family and homies.
I’m from fear, especially when I think about my past.
I come from a long line of people who are street smart and don’t care who’s around.
I come from experiences that reminds me of a rainy day but a bright rainbow at the end.
I come from learning not to trust anyone.
And I wish my life would become better.
That’s where I’d like to be from.

Entry #1675
Hatred dwells in a person’s soul. Someone who has been wrongfully convicted. Deep hatred, anxiety, depression, stronger than anything…the feeling God hates you. Your fate and the life you once knew destroyed abruptly. Why, why me? You could think about how to better yourself, but the chance to do so will never come. Someone once told me I was destined for greatness, but all that comes is despair. My mother and father always said I could be whatever I wanted, but my hopes and dreams were crushed. My life erupted like a volcano pouring hot molten magma on what I called my spirit. Even though I don’t know what the outcome will be, the worst lives and dwells in my mind. Hell is my thoughts. My dreams have turned into nightmares circling just one thing, one idea, one thought, one destiny…that I will waste ten years of my life in a cell for something completely out of my control…over one mistake. I made one stupid immature, 17-year-old’s mistake. I would rather die than let my heart become overwhelmed with sadness and uncertainty.

Entry #1676
Statistics say I won’t make it out the system, that the neighborhoods I live in guarantee an early death. Some say I won’t live to be twenty-one, while others say I’ll be pregnant by sixteen, living the life of a single mother. They say I’ll live on minimum wage, or I’ll never make into college one day. They say people like me don’t change, that my kids will grow up just the same, or that my future consists of failures and incarceration. I would like to prove these statements wrong. One mistake doesn’t define the type of person I am. They look down upon us because of the things we may have done, but never seem to notice the accomplishments we have made, or notice the effort we put in to make a change. We all deserve a chance to do great things. I don’t choose to live by the standards everybody has put upon me, I set them higher. I don’t give people the satisfaction of seeing me stumble, but have them envy me for the changes I have made. I won’t spend my days having a negative attitude, I have a changed mindset to a positive aspect of life. Although I may have grown up in a place where success is doubted, that doesn’t mean to give up all hope and determination. I’ll prove to others I can become something, surprise them by doing better than their expectations. When it all comes down to it near the end, it won’t matter what colors you banged, or where you were from, the mistakes you’ve made, or even your wealth. What will matter is the impact I’ve made and the person I’ve come to be. Forget the statistics. I live by my standards only.

Entry #1677
See, my mom and I had to live in silence before my dad got deported for domestic violence. I have to say I had a lot of admiration for my mom’s determination to get up and create a new family. She forgot about me, but this isn't why I fell. This isn't why I ended up behind this cell. It all began when I started losing my hope due to smoking dope. All because I didn't know how to cope. Unfortunately these were the cards I was dealt. I had to learn to rearrange them to win the game. I had to find someone else to play my cards. I opened my eyes and saw something new. I left the drugs and found a better meaning, a real kind of feeling. While I was locked away and everyone forgot me, so to say. While screaming for God to send me an angel from above, I found love.
I opened my eyes and saw something new, I found someone else.
I found myself.
I won.

Entry #1678
My Life in the JDF
So, I won’t back down
No, I won’t go back to the mobile home.
No, I’m scared I’m going out of my mind, thinkin’ about a rhyme that will impress and make ‘em all happy.
Do I really want to go back to my family? Do I really want to stay in the JDF?
I don’t want to go to a group home, but that might be my only option. The only way to go is up – never back down. Right now, hard feeling, written on the paper. Two best friends – depression and my anger. They control me. They are the factors of my life. They make me who I am. They control me.

Entry #1679
Inca R. Ceration
Hello my name is incarceration.
I'll make you eat, sleep, and reminisce.
I'll separate you from your friends
And, your family especially.
I can break your life apart.
But it's your choice to make it better.
I can also make it start.
When life gets cold I give you faded blue sweaters.
Keep making the choices you make and I'll be with you forever.

Entry #1680
Stop the World, I Would Like to Get Off Now
Life is like a carnival ride. It starts off slow, then speeds up before you know.
Similar to an ocean tide, it’s filled with highs and lows.
Stop the world, I’d like to get off now. Life’s taking me up and down like a ship’s bow.
I keep crossing oceans to get ahead, but my progress is equivalent to jumping a puddle instead.
I often stay up all night in bed, with worries running rampant in my head.
I also stay awake with fears, kicked in the back of my eyeballs with tiny feet called tears.
I’ve come to realize that life is mostly unfair and I often feel as if I’m trapped in a rabbit’s snare.
Stop the world, I’d like to get off now.

Entry #1681
Memoir after Death
Remember me for my kindness, praise me for my intelligence, and applaud me for my humbleness. I don’t care that I’m remembered by many, as long as I’ve inspired good in plenty. Forget rich or famous or pretty; describe me as kind or honest and witty.
Friends, if I die today, smile and be filled with warmth. Don’t let my death leave you bitter and sore. Remember I loved and was there for you? My shoulder always there to cry onto?
Family, you can be sad, but you still have each other. Live the life I haven’t got to finish and my love will be with you forever.
“It’s not the years of your life, it’s the life in your years.” If I live to be eighty and help no one, then you have cause to shed tears. If I live to only twenty, but have helped many then would you please look back on my life and be giddy.
You can be a shining star with the best car or be funny and have the most money. But what does all that really mean in the grand scheme of things? If you let material things represent who you are, in people’s hearts you won’t go very far.

Entry #1682
Doesn't Mean Forever
I'm trapped in a cage
Sitting through my final stay
My momma sent me away
Locked away is where I remain
I put myself in a difficult position
Now I'm sitting here waiting for the final decision
I had drugs in my closet
My momma found them and looked at me broken hearted
She asked me "Why do you do what you do?"
I looked her in the eyes and said "I can't tell you."
I watched my momma's world collapse in her eyes
She kept asking me "Why baby girl, why?"
I told her I almost overdosed many times
She started screaming "Why can't you fight the demons you create inside?"
After that day my momma turned me in
Cause the drugs I was using were making me too thin
I love my momma to death
I'm so thankful she turned me in cause I was moments away to taking my final breath
I've been in the Hall since then
I don't know how long it's been
Since my momma was proud of me
But I just got to believe
That I'm ready to change
Cause I know my momma don't want me home if I'm the same
But momma I promise you it'll get better
Cause this **** doesn't mean forever
I'll be home very soon
And momma even though I'm locked up I'm still here for you
I love you so much mom
I'm sorry for doing you wrong
But we can all move on one day
And finally be a happy family
I just hope you see
That girl wasn't the real me
Everyone asked me "Are you okay?"
And I just smiled and said "It's just another day."
I promise, never again will I lie to you
It'll only be the truth
Momma you're my whole world
And I'm so proud to be your baby girl

Entry #1683
Playing Parent
You see that I am different than most
You see that I fight when people make fun of me
But you don’t know me
You would know me if…
You knew how it was hard to not let others get to me
You knew how I sometimes feel that no one truly cares about me, and there is no point to keep going on in life
You knew how I was beaten every day because I was different, and my dad thought beating me would change me
You see that I smoke and drink to feel better
You see that I cut on my wrists and legs to cope with my feelings
But you don’t know me.
You would know me if…
You knew how I express myself through poetry and art
You knew how I run away when things get tough
You knew how I played dad and mom to my sisters while my family used drugs.

Entry #1684
Momma Sorry
Momma sorry,
But forgive me for what I put you through
Sitting in a cell,
Made me realize what I did to you…
You’ve been through a lot of pain,
You’ve been throut a lot
Mom, I’ll love you unconditionally until my heartbeats stop.
Choose you own life,
Don’t let this life choose you.
My life’s full of pain, but that’s something I’m used to,
Mom, I love you unconditionally,
I only wish I was present with you physically
While I’m doing these years
You’ll be the one I’ll be missing
Of course you’re feeling pain. I’m on my way to prison,
I wish I could take the pain away.
If it wasn’t for me, we wouldn’t have to live this way!

Entry # 1685
Pray For me
Hook )
I said the demons were trying to make a way for me
Now they here me praying
Now they’re playing with me.
(Who’s Gone Pray For Me)3
No one understands how she makes me feel.
If the judge gives me time, will you even be there, can you wait for me?
(Wait for me) (Pray for me)
Locked up in this cell and I can't see you baby.
But this might be a test to our love baby
(Will you wait for me?)(Wait for me) (Pray for me)
(Verse 1)
Shackles on my feet. Cuffs on my hands.
Riden back to Stockton in a minivan.
Last time I called my girl she was stressing.
But moms on the hand saying this should teach me a lesson.
Are you gonna hold it down or you gone cat.
Just be 100 with me and I will be 100 with you back.
Laying in this cell having dreams about you cheating.
Over heating on this map so I start heavily breathing.
Yeah, attorney said if you were 18 you would of had 6 to life.
Only 17 but they might try to whack me with a strike.
If you’re down like you say, ride for me
cause all them girls in the past all lied to me
I said the demons were trying to make a way for me
Now they here me praying
Now they’re playing with me.
(Who’s Gone Pray For Me)3
No one understands how she makes me feel.
If the judge gives me time, will you even be there, can you wait for me?
(Wait for me) (Pray for me)
Locked up in this cell and I can't see you baby.
But this might be a test to our love baby
(Will you wait for me?)(Wait for me) (Pray for me)

Entry #1686
I’ll Be Okay
Sorry Mom, I wasn’t there when I was supposed to be.
We had our ups and downs.
But through it all you kept on loving me.
From group home to group home,
You never once abandoned me.
You’re not only my mom.
You’re my world.
You’re my everything.
Ima have to face some years before I make it home.
I’m losing all my faith.
I’m losing all my hope.
It ain’t over, Mom, even though it feels that way.
I pray every night that hopefully we see a better day.
The day they sentence me, Mom,
Don’t worry I’ll be okay.
Momma, don’t you cry.
Just wipe them tears away!

Entry #1687
Letter after a Time
Here’s something I never told you while you were alive…When I’m around you I feel safe and I wouldn’t want to go any other place
Many times, since you’ve been gone, I’ve thought about… The good times we had and how we made it through all the bad and what a strong loving grandma I had, you always made me so glad
Here’s what’s new in my life…Ever since I lost you I realized being locked up and in these streets wasn’t worth not being with my family. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you Nannie.
When I dream sometimes I imagine you… You dancing in heaven looking down on me and guarding me from all who trespass against me
It’s amazing to look ahead in my life and think… How you’re not suffering trying to stay strong for me and how you made my life so lovely
I love you my Nannie

Entry #1688
The World
Being locked up really sucks. All I do is sit in my cell and think about my girl. Every time I get to hear her beautiful voice makes me so happy. But that is only every so often. I have been in here for 8 months now. It is crazy to me how everyone says that all you got is family. If that is so, then why doesn't my family come and see me, let alone answer my phone calls or write me letters? Since I have been in here the only person to write me is my girl. The only girl in my life that means something to me is my girl. There are people in here with me that tell me that my girl is cheating on me. I don't believe any of it though. I trust my girl. She is loyal to me. We have known each other since we were 7 years old.  I was her first kiss and definitely plan on being her last. I hate being away from her. When I am away from her I don't know what to do with myself. I was away from her for a month and this is where it got me. I promised her that I won't **** up anymore so that when I get out we can build on our life together. I am going to stay true to my word, because to me, she means the world.

Entry #1689
Only seventeen and they want to send me to prison,
I’ve been trying to change my ways and really learn my lesson,
missing my little girl man this place got me stressing,
courts almost here and I'm trying to show a good expression,
but it's like the walls are closing in creating this depression,
the pain I hold inside me is causing a lot of tension,
I sit in my room everyday thinking and reminiscing,
lost in my thoughts not knowing what I'm missing.

Entry #1690
I hear a ball bouncing
I hear metal keys
I see a wall, a brick wall
I sleep on a mattress two inches thin
My parents, they won’t call. They won’t even visit.
Now I sit in this room all alone wondering why I am here
My family doesn’t want me. Who is really there?
Nobody Nobody Nobody
But wait…If I open my eyes, maybe there is.
Everyone’s just waiting for the ring on the phone
Why are we here?
Well, Idk, but if I find out, I’ll let you know
So back to my cell
I’ll see you, maybe after trial  
But only if they drop the charges
They’ve haunted me for a while.

Entry #1691
I’m Actually Here
I hear pencils writing, desks squeaking, and light whispers. Inside the hall is gloomy.
If I sit here and just look around in the dead silent all I feel is sadness and pure gloominess, and I think, “Wow I can't believe I'm actually here.”
Inside, the hall is the same routine every day: shower, eat, school, lunch, school, B&G, dinner, rec. I get to go outside twice a day, once for PE and large muscle. We have rec, go to bed and then repeat. And on the weekends it's a little different. On some days it's full of laughs and happiness and goofiness, but it's rare.
I feel empty. I sit in this blank, white wall, blue doored room, and think why?
I sit and cry and wonder when it’s going to be over, this depressed feeling. Feeling like my soul is slowly leaving my body. Inside here they call it your room or home but don't fall into that trap or you'll end up coming back. This is not my room or my home. Not able to talk to your family member more than 5 min and not able to give your parents a hug without a table in between you. Only being able to see your parents twice a week, if they even decide to come. Not even able to see your little siblings. It kills me, especially knowing they are mad at me and don't even want to talk to me.
People say it's like daycare here and yeah, it pretty much is, but through that daycare part it's truly hell. For some people it's a good place, good food, a bed, and a shower every day. For me, I have that already and this place just tears me down.
I'm glad I did come back because if I didn't I know I would be in a bad place. And me coming back gave me time to clear my head and really think about everything and think about how I really want my life to go….do I want to have a good life, not do drugs, go to school, and be a normal teenager…or do I want to be some badass little kid running the streets, doing drugs, not going to school, breaking the law, coming in and out of juvy, and eventually probably going to jail? That's not the life I want. It may be fun and all but that's only for the time being. I realize I have to look at the outcome of the situation.

Entry #1692
Sitting By Myself
You see that I wear bright orange.
You see that my hair is long.
But you do not know me.
You would know me if
You knew how hard it was to see my mother cry.
You knew how it felt to disappoint your family.
You could see that I sit by myself.
You could see that I write without rhyming.
But you still do not know me.
Entry #1693
Flashbacks and Lessons
Cold nights with long thoughts,
sitting in my cell all I can do is plot,
I remember when I was out in the street masked up with that heat,
rivals slid through and I didn't even think,
flashbacks of that night,
man I wish it was all a bad dream,
but all I hear sometimes is those loud high pitch screams,
I hope one day I can be forgiven,
until that day comes I will be learning my lesson.

Entry #1694
It smells in the hall. It’s stupid. I can’t even think straight because all the kids are yelling. It’s like a really unfair daycare. It sucks. I shouldn’t even be here because I know I can be doing better. Even my parents know what incarceration is like. I can’t wait to get out because I’m tired of this life.
Entry #1695
Family Time
The people in my life who have been incarcerated: my mom, dad, uncle, grandma, and grandpa. My mom was in jail for assault with a weapon on my dad. My dad went to jail for domestic violence on my mom. My gramma went to jail in 1993 for stealing her neighbor’s car to go to the hospital because her water broke when she was pregnant with my Uncle Russell. My grandpa went to prison for murder but beat the case because no one witnessed it.  

Entry #1696
My Goal
I am a 16 year old kid who has been to juvenile hall 4 times since the beginning of the year. Each charge/violation has progressively gotten more severe and the mental and emotional damage has affected me more and more each time. My first charge was an assault charge. Then each violation after that has been me messing around and not listening to my terms of probation and not taking it that seriously. However this time I will be staying at their ***** hotel for a lot longer. I've gotten myself into some trouble I don't even remember doing because I was so drugged up…. All I remember is me talking to the officer in the back of the car and then waking up a whole day later inside juvenile hall once again. I really wish I hadn't taken those drugs. Xanax bars and triple c's combined are definitely not safe. I have let myself, my mother and father, and my girlfriend down. I will most likely be here for 3 months or longer, wasting my whole summer away sitting inside this cement box. My goal that I will strive to achieve is to never, ever come back to this hell hole. 

Entry #1697
As I sit with my eyes closed, I hear pencils tapping, legs shaking, the occasionally radio transmission that's almost always too loud and distracting. I hear youth just making kids noises. That's what it's like in the hall: loud and a noxious. There's never a moment of silence, never a moment of peace. I can't wait for the day that I'm finally released. Once again I'll hit the streets. The cage has freed the beast and I'll be free at last. I'm trying to work on life skills and forget my ***** past. Get a job doing honest work and make some honest cash. Stop doing meth and living life so fast because no matter what I'm high on, I'm always going to crash.

Entry #1698
A Day
A bad day is when I lose a friend.
A good day is when I hear the words I love you.
A bad day is when I don’t know where my money went.
A good day is when I am full of happiness.
A bad day is when I can’t get enough time to myself.
A good day is when I spend time with my family.
A bad day is when I get into a fight with my brother.
A good day is when I find myself a girlfriend.
A bad day is when I lose my girlfriend

Entry #1699
I Know
The juvenile system is different. It is like a daycare. You have to ask to do everything, and you are controlled every minute of the day. They feed you crappy food. It smells like piss, and it’s overall disgusting. All my family and friends know I’m incarcerated because this isn’t my first time. It’s probably my 8th time in here and hopefully my last. I need to work on a lot of things to make sure I don’t come back. I have people who care so much about me and don’t want me ruining my life any more than it is. I know I need to change.

Entry #1700
All my life I have been in poverty. My family was a low income.  We didn't have much. I have four siblings with one who I never met: my older brother I still haven't met him to this day. I want to really bad but I don't think that will ever happen but I honestly don't know what I would say if I did meet him. It would probably be kind of weird not knowing him my whole life anyway. I also have an older sister who I don't talk too much because she is too caught up in her life with her new boyfriend and all, but I don't think we ever clicked much anyway. My favorite is my lil brother. He’s 14 and is a total square. He have never even said a curse word in his life. That is what makes him different from the rest of the family. My mom and dad got divorced when he was like 8 and he hasn't been the same since. He gets kind of emotional sometimes but now that I have been sitting in my cell for 9 months for a stupid lSD charge I miss my family and I am tired of drugs interfering with my life. I say no more to drugs.