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, August 28, 2013

This month, students read several "forgiveness" poems from the Re-Thinking Schools magazine in an article by Linda Christensen.  They were able to choose an open topic or one of two prompts to write about:
1. Make a list of people you want to forgive or can't forgive. Choose one of them, and write a poem.
2. Who has had a profound impact on your life, positively or negatively?  Write about your relationship with this person, what traits you admire or despise, and what the future holds.

Entry # 327
I forgive you for all the times you left me to watch your kids.
I forgive you for always leaving your drugs out for us to see.
For hitting me when I flushed your dope.
For overdosing on drugs in front of me, my little brother, and sister.
I forgive you for bringing all those dope fiends into our house
I forgive you for leaving us alone in the night, only to wake up and cry.
I forgive you for beating everyone up so that we would have nowhere to stay.
For always choosing guys over us kids.
One thing I don’t forgive you for and I never will, is teaching me to do wrong.
I will never forgive you for teaching me stealing was okay.
I will never forgive you for sticking things in my pocket while were in a store.
For making me have to grow up so fast,
and taking away my childhood.
I will never forgive you for leaving me in the world, lost.
I will never forgive you for making me feel unloved and alone.
Some things can never be forgiven.

Entry #328
Supposed To Be
I wish I could forgive you, but I can't. All those times you would leave us home for hours. You left me to take care of my brother. I was 12 and you didn't care. For that, I can't forgive you. Leaving grandma and papa to raise your two kids. That’s not fair to them. We were your kids, but not anymore. The drugs are more important than us? For that I can’t forgive you. Not realizing what you were putting us through is wrong. Choosing to be spun out instead of spending time with your kids was your choice. For that I can't forgive you. I’m not going to let you back in just to hurt us again. Sitting behind bars is obviously where you want to be. I guess jail doesn't make you think too much and you must like that, living your life on a schedule. For that I can't forgive you. The person you were supposed to be isn't who you are. We were supposed to be able to trust and believe in you. All you gave us was false hope and lies. For that I can't forgive you. When you can get your life straight, maybe we can talk, but until then leave us alone. Sorry, but I can’t forgive you even if you are my mom.
Entry # 329
Nudging Jesus (Adapted from the poem "The Best Poem In The World"--Unknown Author)
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp?
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
the drug dealers and thugs.

There stood the kid from 8th grade
who shot my friend twice?
Next to him was my old friend,
who never did anything nice.

My cousin who I always thought
was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'what’s the deal?
I would love to hear your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

And why is everyone so quiet,
so somber- give me a clue'
'Hush, child,' He said,
'They're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'

I’m just trying to live my life and do what’s right.
cuz I caught a fat case 15 to life.
CC would you open the sally port?
Now I’m off on my way to superior court.

I got a letter from my girl telling me that she prayed,
that the D.A. doesn’t send me away.
When we talked on the phone she started to cry.
Asking all these questions always wondering why,
out of all these people did it have to be me?
We just have to stay strong and we’ve got to believe.
Always pray for the best but prepare for the worst.
Yeah I know its 15 but it could have been worse.

Will I make it to heaven or hell?
I don’t have a clue only time will tell.

Entry #330
Dear Meth,
I don’t forgive you meth for making me return to the inside of these brick walls and locked doors. I don’t forgive you for keeping me up all those long dark lonely nights. I don’t forgive you for starving me or for taking me away from my daughter. I don’t forgive you for making me do all those crazy things I normally wouldn’t do. I don’t forgive you for ruining my life, having me tweak in the garage all night long on one little thing, thinking I was getting something done when I really wasn’t. I don’t forgive you meth, but I love you...

Entry #331
I would like to forgive you for leaving me when I was less than a year old. I would like to forget the image of seeing you behind a glass window talking to you threw a phone so young. I didn’t know any better. Not seeing you for years then just showing up one day when I was ten, taking me to a house I never knew, then fighting with your girlfriend and my mom having to come get me. Then not seeing you for another two years until me and my mom were driving home and saw you on the side of the road selling wood to support your dope habit. We stopped to talk and the first thing you say to my mom is "You should buy this wood to keep our son warm.” What kind of bullshit is that pops? You couldn’t just give her some wood after abandoning us? Then a few months later you see me walking and take me to another house and another girlfriend, everything is dirty and gross but my love for you kept me coming back to see you, kept me wanting to have a father. To this day you just want to get high. And for that, dad, I will never forgive you. The time we got raided and were at gunpoint because you were cooking dope right where me and your girlfriend's son were sleeping. Not even a solid wall away from us. Times like that are the times I see in my head when I think of you. You missed so many birthdays and holidays over the years it’s like you weren’t even there at all, ever. So now you might be able to see why I don’t hunt you down to see you anymore. I remember calling and you saying I’ll come get you and me waiting for days and days and you never showing up. You are not a real father. You are a dope fiend and will never change. I accept that, but I will not forget all that you have put my mom and me through. I WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU.

Entry #332
Sky’s The Limit
I come from family pictures with a big, huge smile
but then I shot some bullets and got life as a juvenile.
I'm from a young life full of discrimination,
To all you haters, look in the mirror and stop faking.
I'm from watching pops in and out of the pen,
Mom’s saying he's coming back, but she won't tell me when.
I'm from "sky's the limit" and "keep your chin in the wind",
but then the police pulled me over because the tone of my skin.
I'm from brown dollars and worn out hand-me-downs,
from Christmas mornings where smiles turn into frowns.
I'm from the ghetto world with wars on the front lawn,
from thinking "Lord, my brother is really gone".
I'm from this success game, just get on my same level,
I go through this hell and back just dealing with different devils.
Happiness and dreams, I don't believe until it comes,
the other side of the gate, check it out, that's where I’m from!

Entry #333
Hey Mother,
I forgive you for all the times you abandoned me with your stupid prison trips. I forgive you for all the neglectful times you said we could spend the day together, but when that day came I couldn’t get you back home, away from the dope. People always told me you were a righteous woman, then promises came out of your mouth as little as, “I’ll be home for dinner." I automatically feel hurt knowing you can’t keep your promises even that little. Still with all those hurtful reasons I know you still, somewhat love me by at least talking to me about your habits. So, therefore, I forgive you.

Entry #334
Does It Matter?
Long dark nights and shady days. Everybody wants to play. The game of tag: you get me, I’ll get you, but who really loses? I think we both do. One sports a long pony tail, one sports a shave head. I wear one color and you wear the other, but what are the real differences? It’s not our backgrounds. It’s not the color of our skin. It’s not that one doesn’t struggle. Hoods? Streets? Does that shit matter when it’s time for dormant sleep? With a bang bang here and a bang bang there it’s another shady day in the hood, and for what end? Another long dark night in the hood. Different people different names, but the game always stays the same. Tag, you're it.

Entry #335
Forgiveness Is The Key
I forgive my father, of making me choose between him and my mom when I was young. I forgive my mother for throwing my head against the wall for no reason, when I was a boy. I forgive you dad for putting me in the back of the car with no seat belt, and driving drunk and crashing. For the time you grabbed a gun and pointed it at mom when I was close by watching, and you said you were going to kill her. I yelled “No!” and instead you shot the ground in front of her. Then, we ran. I forgive you both. I'm done. I'm going to move forward in my life. I'm glad now that's out of my mind, and on this paper.

Entry #336
Thank You Brother
The one person who had a profound impact on my life was my second oldest brother. Me and all my siblings are several years apart and my second oldest brother is only three years older than me. Growing up I was always home schooled so I spent a lot of time with my siblings and especially him. We always played together and were best friends because, uh, I didn’t have any friends. When I was about fourteen and fifteen we stopped hanging out as much because he was grown up and I was always running amuck. Now days we hardly ever talk or see each other, mostly because he doesn’t live here. People say family first, but my brother always put me first no matter what. He always had my back and has saved my ass more than once. I haven’t lived with him since I was fourteen and even then he would help me through my difficulties. I didn't recognize how much he meant to me until I came to the hall and now I'm sitting here writing a thank you letter to him.

Entry # 337
Dear Mom,
I don’t forgive you for all those awesome presents in which you stole back and sold for your precious drugs. I don’t forgive you for abandoning your children and hitting the streets for more drugs. I don’t forgive you for all the animals you've gotten me and then sent to the pound a week later. I don’t forgive you for all the times you loaded my pipe and gave me drugs just to leave you alone. I don’t forgive you for what you have done to my once beautiful mother that I never even got to meet. To me now mom, you are a monster.

Entry # 338
2 Forgive and Forget, I Already Forgot
Dear Mom,
I hope you forgive me for all the times I stayed out all night.
because I forgive you for all the nights that you didn’t care what I did.
I forgive you for always bringing strangers into my house, they move their way around me like I’m just a mouse.
I know you were lonely mom. Sadly to say, your son felt the same way.
I forgive you for leaving me in a lonely house. Now I’m gone, and you can’t forgive yourself.

Entry # 339
Dear Mom,
I know you were never really there for me but I just want to say I forgive you.
I forgive you for not feeding me.
I forgive you for letting the Vietnamese neighbors raise me, because you couldn't.
I forgive you for choosing drugs over your own kids.
I forgive you for the brew your friends put in my sippy cup.
I forgive you for all the times you scared me to death. Like the time you told me there were people in the attic, or when you said I was going to die.
I forgive you for everything.
I even forgive you for giving birth to me.
Your son

Entry # 340
Forgiving Dad...
Dad I forgive you for all the chances I've given you, and you let me down.
I forgive you for not being around enough to see me smile or frown.
Dad I think I love you, but it's been some years, never around to dry your "Baby Girl's" tears.
I don't know where you are, but you're probably locked up, again.
You always say you're done and that you're a grown man,
but, don't feel bad, I’m locked up, too.
My 16th birthday, and just another day without you.
Did I mention I forgive you for not catching me when I fell?
All the times I fell on my face as a baby down mom's apartment stairwell.
You were too drunk or into something, and that's a real fact.
Never good on being "Daddy", in that you lacked.
Everyone says I look like you, especially from the brown almond eyes.
I have native running thick in my blood, anger's my demise.
But I get it from you daddy, everything, like my criminal ways
My times going by quick, after all it's just 180 days.
Even though you're not around, my head’s held high, never down.
Dad.... just know I love you and I’m always here.
Through the thick and thin, just shed so many tears.

Entry #341
I Wish I Could
I wish I could forgive you for lonely days I threw the football to myself. For the birthday that I hoped you would write me. For the Thanksgiving days you didn’t cut the turkey or say the prayer for us. I wish I could forgive you for all the times you could have been good in prison and you didn’t care. For not writing back every time I wrote you. I truly forgive for every time you send one letter so I know you’re alive. But I can’t forgive you anymore because I’ve only seen you once in my whole life. I can’t forgive you because every time I try to remember your face, I just see a blank.

Entry # 342
My Dad
The reason I don’t forgive my dad is because he’s never been in my life. He’s in and out of prison and he would rather suck on a dope pipe then hang out with his kids. He thinks he its cool getting twacked back, robbing people or beating them up. He takes shit just so he can hit the pipe and be up for another 24. I will never forgive you, so don’t ever call me asking if I will come hang out with you. When I call and ask if I can come chill for the day you say, “I’m on a mission. Let me call you right back.” So when you call asking if I want to come hang out, I’m going to be like, “I’m on a mission I got to go call you back later.” CLICK.

Entry # 343
I don't forgive my dad for leaving that day at the hospital,
I don't forgive my dad for never being there for me and my brother,
I don't forgive my dad for not trying to at least stay in touch, send a birthday card, or his love,
I don't forgive my dad for never leaving any memories behind when he left,
I don't forgive my dad for choosing drugs over his family.
So when those drugs finally kill you it won’t matter because I won’t let my anger feel for a stranger. For all these things I will never forgive him for walking out 16 years ago.

Entry # 344
Sorry Mother,
I am sorry.
I am sorry for putting my mom in a position that tears her heart apart.
Having to come to court for her criminal son.
Having her watch me plead guilty to a vicious crime.
Watching your son be put in handcuffs is a nightmare for all mothers.
For that I am sorry Mother, I will always be your "Little Brown Mouse."

Entry #345
Mom, I apologize for all the things I have done. I need to get out of juvenile hall. I hate it here and I apologize for putting you through stress and running away.
Brother, I forgive you for the rejection that made me feel as if I didn't even exist. For the bullet wounds from the harsh words you shot my way. All the times I was helpless and you were nowhere to be found. I forgive you for throwing me away because I didn't fit your standards. For not protecting me when I was beaten bloody. When mom left us to be in a better place and all I wanted was the comfort of my family but that was too much for you to give. I forgive you for all the pain you have caused me, but can you forgive me?

Entry # 346
My Life
I forgive my mother for anything she thinks she might have ever done wrong. I just hope she can forgive me for all the times I'd yell or scream or lie because I'm a fiend. What she doesn’t know is that she means everything in the world to me. She is the only person who has been there for me no matter what. My mom is the most important person in my life. She will always be there to help me with my struggle and the strife. I love my mom. She is my life!

Entry # 347
Do As I Do
I thought I wouldn’t be able to forgive you for sipping on the bottle until I started sipping on it harder. I thought I wouldn’t forgive you for doing drugs until I did them too. Neither of us meant to hurt each other, but it happened anyway. Now I’m in juvenile hall and you’re in rehab. Look how far our relationship has come. I love you. Can you forgive me for what I’ve done?

Entry #348
For All The Times
Hey mom, I forgive you for all the times you didn't come home. For all the times you left me at stranger's houses. For all the times you left us at our grandparent's. For all the times you didn’t come home. For all the times you let dope come first. For all the times that I found you passed out on the couch, thinking that you were dead, I forgive you.

Entry # 349
Thank You
You took my childhood, and the life I had to give,
Now, left with confusion, it’s okay, I've learned to forgive.
You left me wondering was it really love?
Burning deep inside are evil feelings I push and shove,
into that place where you once filled,
is that hurt and anger that I’ve tried to kill.
You fled so fast, away you went,
Leaving me haunted by the past, trying to prove I’m innocent.
My heart shrivels up inside,
Every time I hear your name I try to hide.
With the demon of pain, and the faults of men.
My scars from you open and show where I’ve been.
Alone and lost is where you left me.
Shrunk me down from the person I want to be.
So, no, I will not forgive you but rather thank you for giving me my son.
I learned the hard way that you weren’t the one!

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