Juvenile Hall

Juvenile Hall

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!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This month, students were asked to write a "Where I Am From" poem Inspired by George Ella Lyon.  The idea is to write about where you are from, using abstract memories instead of concrete examples…..
Entry # 296
Ascending from Strangers' Misconceptions
I'm from a place you don't want to be. From fake smiles and false affection.
I'm from the lies and deceit. From stifled tears and looking down.
I'm from having a dad who's always there, but not there for me.
From not knowing who most of my family is, and being kept away from them. I'm from a family of secrets. I'm from the little girl who knows and saw too much violence and pain.
From picture perfect home & family from a stranger’s outlook.
I'm from depression and stress starting at a young age.
From being called horrible names.
I'm from leaving home late at nights into the cold just to get away.
From getting into alcohol and drugs as my only outlet.
I'm from falling in love too easy only to get used & hurt in the end.
From seeing the best in people and fooling myself that they're different.
I'm from always being known as quiet but no one bothers to care why.
From horrible self-esteem and just wanting a friend.
I'm from having a mom watch her daughter get abused and just standing in the doorway watching.
From the hot anger kept inside of me too many years.
I'm from parents who think they can buy their love back, but can't.
From scars and a battered heart.
I'm from nobody understanding me and not knowing where I belong.
From the system and various placements.
I'm from things I cannot mention.
From too much to handle.
But lately I've been from putting the missing pieces together in my life.
From knowing what I want and what I need to do to get it.
I'm from becoming headstrong and confident.
From learning to forgive and doing what’s best for me.
I'm from a sunken ship, only to be lifted and repaired to once again stay afloat.

Entry # 297
I am from a couch, from television and Pop Tarts
I am from the window filled bedroom and cold nights
I am from the tall palm trees along the side walk
The rose bushes along walls
I’m from big holiday gatherings and closed door secrets
From dead father and single mother
I’m from alcoholism and addiction
And from determination.
I’m from treating others fair and respect yourself before others
And mom’s voice rocking me to sleep
I’m from Christmas cookies, Anaheim and Irish decent
Shepherd’s pie and chili
From being taken away as a child
From addiction taking hold of my mother and my father’s stamp collections tucked away in my dresser.

Entry #298
I am From!
I am from a dry land and hard times.
From a shaky place where the wind blows the chimes.
I am from a place where you have to wear a certain color.
From where you hear nothing but fighting and yelling.
I am from where it’s all about the drugs and gangs.
I am from a home were you smell weed coming from different rooms.
A world where you can never love but only hate.
A broken heart that can never be replaced.
I am from a scared place that I cover with my hands and a white plain locked room, where I see myself being for my whole life.
I am from where I call jail my second home.
I am from a young girl that is being a young mother.
From a small area where you can barely move your legs.
I am from my mother’s womb.
A mother who always yells.
I am from a woman that raised a gang member.
I am from a father that left me when I was twelve.
I am from the ghetto.

Entry # 299
When Things Come Into Place
I'm from white walls and locked doors
Few people who have remorse
I'm from three minute showers, to when you get in trouble you have hours
Room rest to 6p's, I can't wait till my release
I'm from Green shirts and Bobs daily
Yup, just another Not so quite young lady
When I was younger I was from getting dad’s letters in prison, too young to understand what was missing
I was from being around mommy's boyfriend's abuse, not telling mom or dad, not knowing what to do
Who I was, was a mystery then
A shy little girl who grew to a person who doesn't give a shit
Outside this place I'm from __-town
Witness how a real girl gets down
Now I'm from boredom all day to unsettling rage
Nothing, but more words written on a page
I'm from three months gone, three more to go
Just another girl you think you know
My mom doesn't see me, daddy's locked up
Another year gone, not seeing each other enough
Been here a few times, hopefully my last
But that’s something most people would judge off my past
Long brown hair, bangs in my face
Dimples deep as hell from my smile when things come into place

Entry # 300
Perfect Smile
I'm from false promises and broken dreams.
From quiet nights and lonely birthdays.
Where tears ruin a perfect smile,
From long lost memories,
where all that’s left is a broken heart.
I'm from yellow t-shirts,
and Bob Barkers.
From sleepless nights awaiting a shooting star.
I'm from silent prayers,
and unanswered calls.
From life and death,
with peace with war.

Entry # 301
Four Walls
Where I’m from is a never ending playground taken down and put back up.
I am from eating Macaroni with my friends I might never see again.
I’m from jumping into pools on hot summer days to jumping on my bed on chilly winter nights.
I’m from forgotten memories to forgotten dreams to a mom that wasn’t there to raise me.
I am from a place I couldn’t take, so instead I just ran away.
I’m from a broken heart that was never put back together.
I am from a place that drove me to an outlaw.
I’m here, lonely, and trapped behind four walls.

Entry # 302
239 Days
I am from lonely nights in a brick cage,
From 239 days in.
I’m from days were I have to hide the depression and melancholy, looking as though I am happy when I know I'm not.
From the simple yet idiotic rules that if broken you suffer minor consequences such as "hours", " minus ones", or even “room rest.” I am from 3 minute showers at 6 in the morning.
I am from eating biscuits and gravy every Friday off hideous colored trays.
From wearing faded colored tees and beat up blue Bobs.
I am from the same stale smell of bricks and metal.
From a place were reading helps me and is one of the only things to do.
From where most kids are slightly similar, yet in different situations.
I am from playing basketball on a patio or volley ball in the gym.
But where I'm from won’t matter for long because my time here is running out and the clock is counting down.
Then I'll be from freedom.

Entry #303
A Sad Princess Story
I am from scratches on knees
and running from bees.
From catching snails and racing them.
Sprinting to get the mail first.

I am from slaps on the face and bruises on arms and legs.
From sad princess stories that never had the chance to have a "real" Romeo.
From lonely crying nights and no one to put up with me.
I am from a broken heart, and a pillow full of tears.

I came from this small little town,
Where every little thing you do, everyone knows.
From cracked streets and ghetto houses.

I am from a scared little girl whose parents were fighting.
From running to hide under tables and beds.
From being afraid to be accepted and insecure.

I am like a tree that remains strung with all the scars.
I am full of wounds and an open door that people think it's okay to come and go.
I am from fake smiles to hide the tears.
I am from a make-up lover.
I am from the stars up above.

I see that you’re looking up at me.
Sometimes I feel that this little princess will never have a happy ending, but time comes and I look inthe mirror and see that I'm making progress.

Entry # 304
Remembering Tomorrow
I am from a place you may or may not see tomorrow.
I am from tainted with bud and cigar smoke.
A loving family, the smell of homemade meals, yet you won’t go out after dark by yourself.
I am from a place where kids run free and do what they want.
I am from graffiti on the walls.
A place people only dream to get out of and most don’t.
I am from a place where everyone is connected.
From pigeons chirping in the early morning.
Where people cheat each other and really don’t care.
I am from a place that you see on the news every morning.
I am from a place you may or may not see tomorrow.

Entry # 305
Heinz 57
I am from Snickers Bars, Mars Bars, and the Dollar Tree.
I am from the dark pits of a fiery Hell.
From the tall fountain like willows, the marijuana tree, and walking away.
I am from a blue collar family that all has the same stride and from my brothers, sisters and mom.
I am from the Lejk's pack.
I am from the family lies and the innocent laughter of children; from being told I am “worthless” and “always going to be locked up.”
I am from the hard benches of the Christian church with a black bound Bible in my hand.
I am from Riverside and a Heinz 57 bottle that contains
Indian blood.
From the time my brother's dad shot off his leg and from the time my mom swallowed a live gold fish.
I am from bad memories and hopeless dreams that will soon change to love and affection.

Entry # 306
I am from anger that’s hidden but brought out when someone acts unkindly.
I am from where people don’t judge or act like bullies, where people love to be loved.
I'm from a place that’s hard to explain but so great in many ways.
I'm from a place I should have stayed because there’s still love there today.
I'm from running away, I thought I didn’t belong but maybe I was wrong.
I'm from losing my mom, from there I think I started doing wrong.
I'm from a place I can never return, it’s only in my dreams where I could feel and see her.
I' from a place I can’t go back unless I prove that the old me is gone.

Entry #307
No More
Daddy’s little girl no more. About to be eighteen and out the door, but in reality I'll probably stay home to build a relationship that never was. No more missing out because I can't bear another heartbreak. Realizing this is my life and it's ending one minute at a time. No more tripping on the little shit when I should be focused on the bigger picture at hand. I’m about to be legal with big girl responsibilities and in all honesty I'm scared numb to be on my own again, alone, no more. I need my dad, my family, at this point in time more than I ever wanted them in my life before. No more pushing them away when all they try to do is help. To me life is like a succession of lessons that have to be lived through to be understood. I have lived a life full of mistakes and come out with a handful of well learned lessons. I am committed to do good, not just for myself but for my dad too. No more play time.

Entry # 308
Here Today, Where Tomorrow
I'm from up and down,
Yes, and more common no,
I'm from bud, beers, and brawls.
I'm from sad,
From lonely.
I'm from, “Keep your head up and never look back.” It's harder than it looks.
I'm from humiliation and discrimination.
I'm from the dumb, damned, and dissed.
I come from where no one wants to be.
I know where I’m from,
but not where I'm going.

Entry #309
The City
I'm from the city of gold.
A place full of no love.
A place where needles mean life.
And drugs mean hope.

I'm from a place where streets call names.
A place where minds get driven crazy.
A place with no friends.

I'm from a place where the word “cost” means stolen.
And friends mean

I'm from a place where music is life.
A place where trees stimulate

I'm from a place where something you call yours.
Is not just yours but everyone’s.
A place where six people share one room.
I'm from a place you don't want to call home.

I'm from a place where the river is full of shadows.
Where fear is held but not shown.
I'm from a place where alcohol heals and medicine kills.

Entry # 310
Staying on my Feet
I am from trouble, from anger
I am from hard times and the struggle
I am from hunger, being broke and having nothing
I am from where closed mouths don’t get fed
I am from the deepest darkest potholes in these streets
I am from where two friends get shot at but try to stay on their feet
I am from where we fight to stay alive
I am from where only the strong survive

Entry # 311
To Dream
I am from tall trees and river rocks from cedar wood and grandfather clocks
I am from the house guarded by dogs
From burning sage to sweet smelling candles I am from the red roses and lilacs, whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I’m from cold mornings and snowy days
From Christmas to Easter
I’m from hard work, long walks, and from smoking guns.
I’m from a good person with bad habits and I HAVE A DREAM
I’m from Halloween
I’m from Santa Clara and Mexico and Europe
Spaghetti and tacos
From a gang member and drug dealer throwing away their life

Entry #312
No Other Place
I am from where the dope is good
Where the junkies run all through the hood
Where the people pray, and no kids play
I am from the land of the lost
I am from the warm summer days.
Life in my town is like a maze
I can’t escape I’m lost in the haze
I am from the lonely slums
Where there is nothing to eat, only crumbs
I am from this place I call home
There’s no other place I’d rather roam

Entry #313
Bob’s and Brick
I am from a young life of discrimination, of being looked down on because of my last name.
I am from a family who were poor financially, but very rich of support, encouragement, and advise.
I am from a house-hold of brown dollars and hand-me-downs. From a one room apartment, with two sisters and four cousins.
I am from a mindset with dreams and success, but no reality. I come from a background of gangs, crime, and violence, A.K.A. tragedy.
I am from Bob Barkers and brick walls,
from a voice in the back of my head saying "LOYALTY ABOVE ALL LAWS.”

Entry #314
I’m from palm trees, salty beaches and sand
I’m from a broken family whose love has faded
from fireworks in the starry nights on Laos New Years
I’m from hot coal destroying an innocent caterpillar
from bitter tears of being lost and confused from abandonment
from smoke bursting through a bong on stressful days
I’m from holes in the wall on drunken nights, heartbreak and shattered dreams
I’m from long walks and isolation from selfish people
I’m from fireflies captured in crystal jars, exploring the woods and playful days after school with my dog
I’m from long talks with the one who really knew me
I’m from shadows in the late night rummaging through backyards
from a mind that is lost, from a heart that is in pain
I’m from Mary Jane who keeps me sane
I’m from juvenile hall that is how I got my name

Entry # 315
Unshattered Glass
I’m from where they hustle
from trigger sounds and gun shots
I’m from a place where there’s never ending fights
where they move to take a life
a place surrounded by gangs
where money is everything
where the mothers don’t care
I’m from a place where other people fear
I’m from a place where you hear hand cuffs and police sirens
where a lot of people are dying
I’m from locked gates, locked door, cold nights, and unbreakable windows
I’m from a place where you survive on your own
I’m from the hood.

Entry # 316
Discoveries Beyond The Bay
I'm from paved roads and palm trees.
To the harbor with yachts and seaweed.
From the CoCo Channel to the knock off Versachi's.
To the, “Hi, I'm rich and you’re not.”
From Memoirs of dear friends
To Liberty's old withering halls.

I am from the space between the asphalt
And the longboard beneath my feet.
I'm from the shelves in the pantry.
To under my bed hiding from the monsters.
From the dining hall with Auntie.
To the beach home jobs with Uncle.
I'm from sunrise pearl yellow
To taco Tuesdays by the delta.
From the deep murky waters.
To the wakeboarding back flips and face plants.

I am from a long line of believers.
When only I am not.
From Cornerstone on Saturdays.
To ski beach and Halloween parties.
From the carton of Marlboro Red 100's.
To the track field, running against Heritage.

I am from fake smiles.
And Christian side hugs.
I am from the deep neck of nowhere.
To the, "Hey lets kick it in the lakes".
From the Excelsior Falcons, to the fierce Liberty Lions.

I grew up here.

Entry #317
Or Die
I'm from snapped decks
From new shoes quickly become ripped shoes
I'm from tre flips and hardflips
I’m from shoelace belts
I'm from vans in vans
I'm from watching for cops
I'm from rails in pyramids
I’m from skateboarding

Entry # 318
Roller Coaster
I am from warm waters and cool sand
the fame land
road trips, family fights, and watching the stars up all night.
I am from no dry spot, but it’s still hot
I am from city lights to an everyday street fight
where if you aren’t riding you are dying
I am from a place where I learned the hard way
I am from amusement parks to people making rude remarks
I am from a place where you’ll never forget..

Entry #319
Where Laughter Can Be Found
I'm from the sweet smell of wet Gardenias.
From the green grassy plains, to the rocky mountains that I call home.
I'm from lost memories that sneak up from time to time.
From heart breaks to falling in love.
From warm colors to the dark nights.
I'm from a place where constellations dance.
From a place where the moon looks brighter than the sun.
From the place that told me "to live is just to fall asleep, and to die is to awaken."
From a place that I miss so much.
From the place I'll never forget.
A place where butterflies roam and laughter can be found.
From the smell of campfires or wet cement.
I'm from the place that I see in my dreams.
That place I shall return to once my time in the hall is complete.

Entry # 320
Average Kid
I’m from the escape of fallen love
Running through the dusk of the forest.
From yelling parents
to the far gap of attention,
cold dirt, bare feet of thorns
bleeding like the hot fire.
Hear my roar of a fierce lion. Lost, angry.
Now with wings tied around my face, helping to not become that angry monster of destruction.

Entry #321
A Bit of Orange Juice
I'm from banging ear drums from the sounds of gun shots.
From blood stains on the sidewalk and graffiti on buildings.
From being beaten with anything that could be found.
From busted lips and black eyes.
From in and out of nonpublic to in and out of Juvenile Hall.
From the smell of drugs and alcohol with a bit of orange juice.
From the homeless people asking for money outside of McDonalds.
From depression and anger with no way to solve it.
From love and hate.
From stealing and inventing.
From music and art.
From yelling and hitting.
From good and evil.
From the streets, that's where I'm from.

Entry # 322
Face On A Shirt
I am from gunshots and stabbings
I am from where everyone wants to be a hood
I am from a place they call hell
From the dark nights and cloudy sky’s
I am from kids walking around with guns
I am from weed smoke and alcohol
From no shoes, and no clothes,
From no food, and no home
I am from a place that’ll take a man’s life
I am from a place that’s triffe
I’m from a cold world
And every day is a cold reminder.
Where money is the motive
Where there are no mothers and no fathers
I am from a place where you’ll only receive love if you’re a rider
From a place where there’s ten year old gang members
I am from a place that doesn’t care until you’re gone
I am from a place that is heartless
A place that’ll only remember you if your face is on a shirt
I am from a place where love, family, and loyalty are nowhere to be found
I am from a place that I don’t want to call home
From a place that’ll leave you all alone
I am from a place that can care less whether you’re here or gone!

Entry # 323
Wherever I Am Most Content
I am from ..The roaring waves against goat rock

I am from the cake pans and the brownie mix with daddy
From Peppermint schnapps and 50 cc's to wake up.
I am from the hardwood floors to the frightful garage where all dad’s demons keep him holed up away from us.
From the small cries of baby Isabella, to the smell of baby lotion.

I am from the gravel in our 6x6 backyard that has enough space for a small table and an ashtray.
The smell of the neighbor’s roses and the acrid taste of motor oil from across the street.
I’m from the smell of witch hazel and candles. To the eating competitions when dad was free of the monster.

From long nights and early morning s, sometimes no sleep at all.
I’m from yelling when mad and crying when your voice is too hoarse to scream, to when you give up and run away.
I’m from “Good morning baby girl,” to “I'll see you when I’m home.” Now it seems as if silence awaits us when we wake. To the dreadfully bare embraces we no longer share.
I’m from gardening with Oma, and listening to old rock with Opa when he wasn’t too drunk or suffering from his pain.
I call my home wherever my heart lies most content at the time. A place of happiness, joy, pain and also gain.

Entry #324
No Trade-Backs
I am from the beautiful pine trees and the back woods of the state above. I am from cows and horses eating in a pasture without a worry in the world. From four wheelers and flat bed trucks. I am from before sunrise and after dawn. From good ways to bad habits. I am from a tall family to a short one. From anger out of me to disappointment out of them. I am from disciplined to the wild child. From caring to carefree. From a future full of happiness to my own self want. I am from a good family to a bad one and back again. From poor to well off. I am from my own choices. The place I come from I would not trade for the world.

Entry # 325
Crumbling Inside
I’m from playing outside with every kid on the block till time reached the end of the clock. From watching scary movies and playing video games even if they were a little bit lame. I’m from the place where no secret is safe. I’m from Friday night football games to Saturday morning softball games. And from the place where still till this day has never been changed. I’m from staying up all night to my dad teaching me how to fly my first kite. I’m from skateboarding with my brother to being told I was a brat by my mother. I’m from wanting to be with my sisters all the time to growing up and doing stupid things just to get a dime. I’m from a family where everything seemed perfect on the outside but was slowly falling apart on the inside. I’m from being different than everyone I know but also loving that though.

Entry # 326
Not Too Long
I've been here 90 days now and still have two more months until I’m gone. It will be nice to walk outside and smell the fresh air, or even say what’s up to the family. Days are going really fast, like someone hit fast forward on a movie. One thing that trips me out though is how the only letters I get are from my family. All my homies said they were going to write but those were just words. I'm not really expecting them to write anyways. Only one has written but he is pretty much like my brother. I can guarantee when I get out everybody is going to be like, "What’s up homeboy, my bad, I was going to write but…" and then finish the rest with some poor ass excuse about why they didn't. Well I'll say it wouldn't be the first time. When you’re locked up, though, you find out who your real friends are for sure. I'm a senior now and going to graduate early. That feels good because all I've been told by previous teachers is how I'm going to fail. Well, I'm ready for tomorrow because I know it's not too long.

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