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: January 26, February 23, March 23, April 27

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Entry #1611
Vanishing Time
I remember being five years old the last time I saw my dad and I never took the time to get to know him.
I remember when I first started school and cried for my mother until school was over.
I remember moving to ****** County with my mom and her boyfriend and we moved in with my uncle.
I remember when my brother was born and I got to hold him.
I remember going to the hospital after I broke my arm and also got three stiches on my chest.
I remember when first got drunk and threw up until I passed out.
I remember the first time I felt the cold metal rap around my wrist, and hearing my mom cry when I told her where I was.
I remember saying I would never get locked up after I got out, but it didn’t go down like that.
I remember being locked up when my little sister was born.
I remember all the time I will never get back because of the choices I made.

Entry #1612
Who Am I?
Who am I?
God I wish I knew. I wish I had the slightest clue. I'll tell you who I'm not.
I am NOT a drug addict.
Even though my actions from everyone's point of view shows or implies that I am. I've realized drugs take a hold of you. I've seen it with my closest friends. I'm glad to have been 17 and on probation, having something to help me from losing myself. Young enough to have enough time to pick myself back up.  I was killing myself, slowly dying, but the crank had me feeling like I was flying. Turns out the drugs where lying. I don't want to live this way. Came from a good family a good home and I still fell and ended up in a cell. I was smoking dope losing hope till one day I said nope. I was fighting, fighting for what exactly? I have to do what's right. I have no more fight if it's not to better my life. I'm glad I set myself free (my mind anyway). Trying to find myself, I lost a lot of me, but I now know who I'm not, if not who I am.

Entry #1613
Yet To Be Determined
I remember when I was just a boy, 8 years old, and my dad would have all the neighbors come over to box me. My dad always thought I was a good boxer.
I remember when I was 9 my mom and dad got into a big fight and my dad swallowed a bottle of methadone pills. The ambulance came and they had to pump his belly so he wouldn’t die.
When I was ten I remember riding dirt bikes for the first time. It became one of my favorite things to do in my child hood.
When I was 11 I found myself in the hospital getting surgery on my appendix.
When I was 12 I found Mary Jane. I remember smoking all the time doing stupid shit.
When I was 13 I remember finding new friends and branching away from my family.
When I was 14 my mom and I didn’t get along anymore. We were always fighting and I was on the streets from then on.
When I was 15 I started using meth and my life spiraled downhill from there. I was now becoming an addict.
When I was 16 I started getting incarcerated and found myself in a cell a lot.
When I was 17 I lost my first true love and it was one of the most painful experiences of my life.

18 is yet to be determined.

Entry #1614
Remembering Hard Times
I remember when my grandpa was alive. He would take me for a ride in his motorcycle.
I remember the good times with my grandpa.
I remember when he gave me my first pedal bike when I was 7 years old.
I remember when my grandpa took me to the County Jail to go see my mom and dad.
I remember when my grandpa left the house and came back with my mom because he bailed her out.
I remember seeing my mom’s face when she saw me come out of the house.
I remember seeing my grandma smoking dope in the garage the night my mom go out of jail.
I remember waking up at 7:00 am to drive to the jail with my grandpa to see my dad every Saturday.
I remember seeing my dad in my mom’s house… then he didn’t show up for about a week… I began to worry.
I remember when I first asked my mom where my dad was and she told me “he wouldn’t be coming around for a couple of years.” I asked “why” and she said, “I can’t tell you Bubba.”

Entry #1615
How to Change
I remember the first time I got locked up and didn’t know what to think about it.
I remember when I didn’t have to trip about being on my best behavior, or trippin about being bored.
I remember when I wasn’t always looking at blue doors and white brick walls.
I remember when my mom left and never came back.
I remember my dad going in and out of prison and barely being a part of my life.
I remember when I didn’t have a 9:00 bed time, and being able to leave when I wanted to leave.
I remember when I could eat anytime I wanted.
I remember 10 months ago when I was out messing up and didn’t know what to do or how I could change myself.
I remember when my boyz house got shot at and going go retaliate.
I remember having what we did haunt me.

Entry #1616
Being A Kid
I miss the old days before I had to deal with probation
I miss being able to do whatever and stay out as late as I want
I miss going camping with my family
I remember the time we went camping and stumbled upon that bear.  My sisters were so scared.
I remember being up early with my grandpa and reading the newspapers with him while drinking hot chocolate
I miss going to the snow and building snowmen
I remember when I tied my sled to my quad and had my sister pull me
I miss the wild days
I remember sneaking my dirt bike out onto my street and riding it around town
I miss staying up all night with my friend
I miss fishing with my dad
I miss swimming
I miss when I was younger
I miss being a kid

Entry #1617
I remember being treated with respect
I miss being with family that loved to spend time with me
I remember when my thoughts mattered to people
I miss being able to express myself without having to get sent down to my damn cell afterwards
I remember being FREE
I miss music
I miss waking up every morning, getting on my phone and playing songs while smoking a cigarette or two.
I miss the way we put each other first
I miss my family
I miss the person that cares about me and loves me unconditionally
OVERALL I miss you

Entry #1618
Holding My Son
I miss when my mom gave a shit
I remember when my dad
was alive
I miss when we used to be
a family
I remember when my dad died
I miss when we used to be
I remember when I used to
be on the outside
I miss when my brother was
alive but
I remember when my little brother died
I miss my little family
I remember those were the times
I miss my little happy family now
I remember it’s time to start mine
I remember when my son was born
I miss holding him all the time

Entry #1619
I’m Just a Kid
I miss being able to do what I want
I miss staying out late and running amuck with my friends
I miss swimming under the green bridge
I miss getting free things from the store
I miss times when I was able to just get up and go places
I miss when I didn’t have to worry about probation arresting me
I miss not having a care in the world about trouble
I miss being able to say “I’m just a kid” to get out of trouble
I miss my parents always having my back and also being there when I was in deep shit
I miss regular school and sports
I miss hanging out with my brother and doing fun things
I miss being out…..

Entry #1620
Living Live Freely
I miss being able to sleep in my own bed.
I miss my home.
I miss being able to make me and my girl some bomb food to eat while we relax and watch a movie.
I miss my girl.
I miss going to the mall with my brother to buy a new outfit.
I miss my bro.
I miss being able to wear my own outfits.
I miss my clothes.
I miss relaxing at the river with my mom.
I miss my mom.
I miss going on trips with my girl and her friend.
I miss them.
I miss late night swims with my boys, smoking and drinking.
I miss it all.
I miss being free.
I miss it a lot.

Entry #1621
Memory of Time
I miss the breeze, on those calm summer eves,
I miss winter’s freeze, when I pull down my sleeves,
I miss all the snow, the way it just gleams
Or the way that the trees, reflect solar beams,
I miss all the ways, the snowflakes just glow,
And all those hot days, I played for hours for free,
I miss all those days, my mom told me to climb,
For all those days are gone, in memory of time.

Entry #1622
Where’d My Showers Go?
                I miss being able to take long showers and not being woken up early just to wait for everyone else to finish. I wish I could wake up at my own pace, and take my long shower when I'm ready, not when the guards say I'm ready. I miss knowing that after my shower I was clean instead of "Did I wash fast enough to be clean?" I miss knowing when I shower I would have good water pressure and a sense of how hot or cold I wanted the water. I miss having whatever scent soap I wanted, or a different variety of cleaners to fit my needs. Overall, I miss my shower. I miss being free.

Entry #1623
These last four months haven’t been that great. It all started when I went to court and found out that they wanted to send me to Stockton to go to cya facility for a 90 day evaluation. They told me they wanted to see how I would act in a more serious situation. When I found out what they were going to do with me my heart dropped and my mind went blank. They told me if I stayed out of trouble I could come back, but if I got in trouble I would stay there. All I was thinking is they don't understand what they’re doing. They don't really know what kind of situation they are putting me in. I really only had two options. I could go over there and tell them the truth, which would be that I don't gang bang and that I want nothing to do with them…which would get me nothing but my ass beat every time I came out my room. It would also get me a full time stay at the CYA facility. I wouldn't be coming home anytime soon. Then there was option two, which would be to go over there and lie. Tell them that I still gang bang and that I am down to ride. Which would mark me as a front line soldier and that's definitely something I didn't need. So I really had no idea what the hell I was going to do. The court really set me up for failure without even knowing it. I wanted to speak up and say what was on my mind and trust me I tried. But he didn't even let me say three words before he stopped me and said nothing would change his mind, this is what he wanted. So that's when I knew my life was ********, that I was going to spend some time in CYA and then prison because the judge thought he was doing the right thing. I guess I screwed myself over when I got tattoos and labeled myself as a gang banger. I thought those tattoos were the beginning of my life, not the one thing that was going to end it.

Entry #1624
In The System
           I miss being able to smoke a cigarette whenever I want. I miss being free from probation and smoking and drinking without getting a violation. I remember spending time and money with family and friends but it's hard now that I keep getting locked up. I miss not having to look over my shoulder 24/7 for probation or GPD. I remember those days being able to walk around, wherever I wanted to, freely, without getting pulled over and searched.

           I miss all my clothes and females. I miss driving around town with my grandma telling me to slow down while I'm going 15 MPH. I remember going to get cross faded with my grandpa. I miss dabbing out while making beats on FL studios at my homie trap. I remember robbing people and their houses just to get money or drugs. I miss not knowing where or what juvenile hall is. I regret doing everything I did to get in the system. I miss being out and free.  

Entry #1625
I miss that day when our lips first met, it was only a peck but it was truly the best.
I miss when you would come over and I would hold you tight, whispering in your ear that I wish you were mine.
I miss looking in your eyes and seeing that shine, being around you everything seemed alright.
I miss that day when you came over in that sparkly dress, when I picked you up and gave you a kiss.
I miss flirting with you over text, waking up every morning wishing you were right next to me.

Entry #1626
I only get to look forward to an hour or two of free rec and an evening snack while I talk to my mother about the day I will get released.

These walls do something to you. They not only strip you of everything you once had. But they strip you of your sanity. You're individuality. The shit that makes you feel special on the outs.

It gets revoked more and more every time you here the loud click of that dead bolt lock us in our cells which the staff call "rooms".
Every time I hear that common misconception of a room or cell I want to blurt out and disagree and excrete all the pain and anger the walls make me feel and endure on a daily basis. These are cells, never mistake them for a room again!

Even the benefits of PE in the morning and occasional large muscle in the field is taunting. The loud highway inflicting its tempting roar of freedom as cars pass by. Just to be reminded of the deadly razor wire that surrounds our hour of "freedom"

I miss the soft touch of my mother’s embrace, the ever so comforting snuggle of my girlfriends affectionate touch. I would give up anything to be able to be on the outside of these tormenting walls, now, instead of my release date which seems so far away.

Then I remember the choice that got me here in this dark unforgiving hell hole.
Then and only then, I resent my split second decisions.

Entry #1627
I miss the outs
I miss my dog
my Xbox
my mom
I miss going to a normal school
I miss my girl
my friends
my bike
my belts
I miss my dad
my hats
my shoes
I miss eating junk food
I miss my sweater
my sweatshirt
my hoodies
my watches 

Entry #1628
Dear Mom
I remember when I was younger, the days were so much calmer. Not a care in the world. I was growing up too fast and you tried to stop me so that I could have a childhood. I wouldn't listen though because I was too stubborn back then. Mom, I grew up because you needed me more than anything. You were lost and broken and had nowhere to turn to at the time. I remember the night you came into my room crying. I had no clue what to do but hold you and tell you it's okay repeatedly. You acted so tough around us that I thought you never cried. All you did was smile everyday so I thought everything was okay, boy was I wrong. Do you remember what you told me when I got locked up the 3rd time? You said "This is all your fault. I raised you better than this.” Where the hell did I go wrong with you? I played those words in the back of my head for days upon end. I cried every night because I was ashamed of who I am. I called you a couple days later and you said I was a disappointment. I cried because I knew I was a disappointment and I'm glad I realize it now rather than later when it’s too late to fix all of this. Mom I'm sorry I'm a disappointment. I promise I'll change, I'll make sure things don't stay the same. Mom I love you unconditionally, I only wish I was present with you physically.

Entry #1629
I remember chilling at the house on T Street and my lil brother walked in saying the homies were here. I told him not to go, but he did, and five minutes later, I remember hearing gunshots going off round after round and me running toward the car that my lil brother was in. I remember pulling him out. I remember holding him, pushing down on the gunshot wound to stop the blood from coming out. I remember looking up and back down. I remember the last words he said. He told me not to worry. I remember crying and telling him to hang in there and to say with me but then he was gone. I remember going home with blood on my shirt and hands. I remember my mom running towards me asking me what happened and I told her he was gone. Mom looked back down the street. She saw the car and ran all the way down the street. I remember thinking to myself that whoever did it was going to pay for what they did. I remember chilling with my older homie when two people ran up to me and said that my oldest brother found the car and lit it up.  I remember going to my older brother’s court hearing when they gave him 25 to life. I remember thinking to myself that I was going to change, but I didn't, I fell farther into the gang life. I remember holding my first gun, walking down the block with it. I felt powerful.  I remember it all.  

Entry #1630
Momma, I’m sorry for all this pain I put you thru
I know damn well I shoulda listened to you
But I promise to God I’ma make it up to you
You was a single mother, you did it all on your own
I couldn’t have asked for better, you is a hell of a mom
Goin’paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet
You prolly sittin’ at home prayin’ I survive in these streets
But we made it out the struggle
Damn, we was in it deep
Day and night we had to hustle
For just the things that was cheap
Tough at time to get sumthin to eat
Stay learnin’ the hard way
It taught me a lesson
Can’t let my brother live this way
Keep my momma from stressin’
They sendin’ me away
It’s damn near a belssin’
**** what you thought
I’ma make it on my own
Yeah, I got caught
But eventually I’m goin’ home
Ouu they had me missin’
They really had me trippin
Had me locked up in a cell where they knew I wasn’t livin
Told’em I can’t do it but they aint never
Wanna listen
Born in a struggle with no food in the kitchen
To get the pain off my mind I was with the homies
Runnin up a check from all the places we was lickin
Had me up in fights and they really had me hittin
Had the stick up in the ship and they really had me whippin
Ouu they had me missin
Had me locked up in a cell they aint never had me
Ouu they had me missin
Had me going thru hell and they had my momma trippin’
Ouu they had me missin’
I been sittin’ in a cell since I was
Caught up in the field
So I’ve been thinking ‘bout my life and
Ima tell you what’s the deal
About them lonely ass nights it was just
Me and my steal
Y’all don’t know about this
Pain that I feel
All I can do is pray to God and I just
Hope that he’s real
       God, I just hope that you’re real

Entry #1631
I remember when I was focused on dreams and thinking to myself that one day I'm gonna be a star.
I remember singing on a stage and feeling proud.
I also remember when my mom smiled at me and told me she loved me and I just thought, wow, I have the best mom in the world and she's the only person I need.
I remember when I was the only cheerleader and I performed in front of hundreds of people.
I miss being happy and I miss performing.

Entry #1632
I Miss My Old Life
I miss the love and care in my house
I miss my uncle I lost to a gun
I miss my family
I miss riding my bmx bike in the hot sun till I'm dripping sweat
I miss swimming in ditches with my friends
I miss smoking and not caring what we did
I miss not sitting in a cell
I miss not stressing about the little things
I miss feeling like I'm not stuck in one place in my life
I miss riding around G town with my friends finding stuff to do
I miss driving like the roads have no end
I miss feeling likes there’s hope and a future for me
I miss the times where I worked on cars with my dad
I miss my dad
I miss the times I wasn't scared to get locked up
I miss my old life

Entry #1633
Stuck in the Past
When I reminisce on my old life, I try to remember the good parts.
My family
My home
My school
My free life.
Funny how now it seems so far away, when in actuality it’s right outside those blue doors.
I miss waking up early to my brother getting ready for school. I miss making our breakfast, and eating it on the couch while we listen to music or watch a few episodes of the shows we like. I miss walking him to the bus in the morning, bright and early.
I miss watching the rain fall onto the trees and road, just listening.
I miss the taste of Folger's, Rockstar, Marlboro reds, and fried chicken.
I miss coming home from school to my baby brother. I miss sitting on the couch with him and watching Peppa Pig and Caillou. I miss helping him clean up his toys (me picking up his toys) just so he can dump them all out again when he's bored.

Entry #1634
Stale Crackers and Cold Rice
I remember those hot bullets and cold knives
I remember those pointless arguments and big fights
I remember when I was hungry, nobody had me, but when they were hungry, I had them
I remember being all alone with nowhere to go
I remember her telling me "just stay" but me saying no
I remember the pain in her voice when she said "please don't go"
I remember all those nights she prayed I'd make it home
I remember that fresh cool air and that Newport smoke
I remember my big brother saying, "Now you’re a LOC"
I remember seeing my mom and promising myself I wouldn't do dope
I remember thinking "That stuff ruins people, especially when you shoot it with a needle."
I remember those cold nights wondering if momma’d come home tonight
I remember asking what's for dinner… same shit as last night, stale crackers and cold rice

I remember thinking "One day I'm gonna make it, I got to do it , not just say it."