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!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing Exchange
Lassen, Butte, and Fresno Juvenile Halls
January 29, 2014

Entry #457
Hello ..Or Is It Rather A Goodbye?
Hello Or Is This A Goodbye?
A New Year
A New Noose
It Killed Me To Realize
I'd Have To Say Goodbye To You
I Never Thought Love And Drugs
Could Coexist
Like Two Pea's In A Forgotten Pod
But Low And Behold ...Here I Reside In A Familiar Hall Pod
Only 30 Days But With A Tighter Leash
Juvenile Hall Back To Home Only To Have
Them Monitor Everywhere I Go!
A Cold Unforgiving Bed Holding Me Rough, Never Sound
Dead Empty Air And White Bricks Surround
2014 Has Arrived But By Being In Here
I Don't Feel Alive , I Only Know It's Scary To Say Goodbye
Tis For The Best , Out Goes The Drugs
The Bad Things And All The Rest
Mom I Hope You Realize I "Can " Love
Meth I Dare You To Know That You’re No Longer My Drug
Probation I Intend To Please...
So One Day The Noose Around My Neck
May Release.

Entry # 458
Goodbye Crystal,
Goodbye meth, I no longer need you. It is a new year and it’s been four months since our divorce. It was really hard to let you go. I was in love with you, but now I can't have anything to do with you.  I am so tempted to be friends with benefits, but you've caused me nothing but chaos. So, I'm sorry, but I'm going to move on now. I can't have anything to do with you, crystal. Goodbye to you and to 2013.
I’m so glad that the year is over.  It was the worst year I’ve ever had.  I was locked up for all but 58 days of the year.  I regret that so much.  I’m excited about this new year because I turn 18 and I’ll get out, but that’s not for ten more months.

Entry #459
Breaking my Heart
 I tell my sister I’m sorry for never being there.  She asks when I’m coming back home for good.  My heart breaks into a million pieces.  The one girl who has always been in my heart does not look up to me as her hero.  I’m just a stranger.  I cry.
I tell her that I’m sorry, and I’ll be home soon.  She tells me she misses me and loves me.  The tears start anew.
I pray to God to help me in my time of need, to help me change.  I tell God I’ll do anything.  I feel my words fall on deaf ears.  My heart aches and I can’t stop it. 
I want, no, I need her forgiveness.  I crave it.  Being her hero was my addiction, but I replaced it with a new one.  Now, I’m just a shell of what I used to be. 

Entry # 460
        As 2013 is coming to an end I would like to say goodbye to my brother. My brother passed away in May. He wasn’t the toughest person but he was the greatest at what he did. He always tried to keep me out of the streets, doing something positive. I hope he’s resting in peace. He was a very strong and a confident man. My brother did what was possible to become the man he was and what everybody thinks of him is great. I know he is gone, but to me he will always be close. I’ll try my best to live up to your expectations for me, big bro.
 He left two precious children behind that have to grow up without a father. That is very sad. Every day, it hurts to know my brother is really gone. Another human being took his life away, so now I go on everyday thinking, what should I do? Should I go get revenge or just let it ride? Either way it will not bring my brother back. All I can say is Rest in Peace!

Entry # 461
The Tree
Last year, huh. Yeah. That year was like a tree that did not get water. And you know trees need water, so they can be healthy, grow, and not wither at all. Think of me as the thirsty tree. I didn’t love myself or couldn’t accept myself, but I can now. I’m happy to be alive this year with hope that I’m getting out. I’m going to do it. It’s wonderful. So, I would like to acknowledge that I didn’t get that water when I was a kid. No,No,No! I grew up a dead tree, metaphorically. I didn’t get abused or anything. And if I do remember bad stuff, I just push it out. I’ve figured out that I can just get my own water. And that water, all this time, was inside of me. The water is called love and acceptance. This is about a tree.
Entry # 462
I am a Survivor
Goodbye 2013 you hurt me.
I hate your guts.
You were the worst year ever.
You think you’re so clever.
Goodbye 2013 you had me down and out.
I have done time this whole year.
I won’t shed a tear.
Goodbye 2013 no more in the streets.
No more running away.
No more smoking.
I am going spend time with my mama.
Goodbye 2013 I am going to change.
I am a new me.
For the sake of me and my family.
Goodbye 2013 god’s helped me through it all.
He will make sure I won’t stumble nor fall.
I don’t need you.
You are so bitter and cold.
I will never sell my soul.
Goodbye 2013 you lied to me.
and you made me sick.
2013 you deceived me.
You got the best of me.
Goodbye 2013 I am a survivor.
I will not give up.
I will do my time.
In a drop of a dime.
Goodbye 2013 I loved you,
but now it’s finally over.

Entry #463
Not the Same
Goodbye 2013
Now with 2014 yet to be seen
I look back on the year now
And I ask myself "how"
How was I that dumb?
How come I didn't listen?
How am I going to rebound?
I lost my senior year
But I learned to cope with fear
Though those two things don't equal out
I've become a man without a doubt
All throughout this up and down rollercoaster ride
My mom and sister never left my side
I will never be able to thank them enough
They are the reason I am so tough
Saying goodbye to a year I regret
For 2014 I have new goals to set
Once I leave and am doing fine
I'll always remember my friend that could be serving a lifetime
He has also let me see
The potential man I will strive to be
To the last 365 days that came and went
The message in my life was clearly sent
I will be at the top of my game
For 2014 for me will not be the same

Entry #464
I thought this was going to be easy
“A piece of cake,” everyone said
putting the bottle down is hard
quitting drugs is hard
but dropping the true friends is the most difficult.
I never imagined my life being complicated
people told me it was easy to just drop everything and walk away
but they obviously have never been in my shoes.
The hardest thing?  Having your family
find you in the Hospital almost dead from
an overdose and having been raped.
It’s hard just to set the bottle down, put the drugs away,
and walk away from “friends,” let alone face family.

Entry #465
-Asking Myself Why?-
Here I am thinking “why?”
Why did I pick up that pipe?
Why did I take that first hit?
Why did I get addicted?
My mom used to smoke dope and I remember saying I would never be like her.
Now I’m sitting in my cell asking myself why I had to grow up around that shit.
Why did I follow those footsteps I said I wouldn’t?

Entry #466
So Long
Good-bye drugs,
Good-bye false love.
Good-bye old friends,
Good-bye old trends.
So long memories,
So long bad dreams.
So long old ways,
So long unfortunate days.
Farewell unknown personalities,
Hello to the real me.
Farewell depression,
It's time for a recession.
See you soon college,
For you will fill me with knowledge.
See you soon success,
It's time to make some progress.
So long haunting past.

Entry #467
Eight Breaks
A wish that I might of had is gone! I didn't come close. She left without me seeing a different picture in the year.  The only thing I saw were white walls and a steel door that yells "I got you trapped. You'll never break me down." 365 days with 8 breaks just to go to superior court. 8 breaks only for people to say that I'm a menace to society and no good for my family, words that hit me like bullets. Will I ever see another year without locked doors, barbwire fences and bouncers telling me what to do every second of my life? I wish I could still have that dream, a wish of being free.

Entry #468
I wish. . .
I wish I never started to turn to the pipe at 15.  It messed my whole life up.  I’m sitting here helpless, while my fake friends are free with their families.  They just sit there smoking the dope.  Not one of them cares that I’m locked up.  All my real friends told me to get it together, told me to stop.  I never listened to my real homies.  I wish I did. .

Entry # 469
I know people say life is unfair! Well, life is unfair as long as you make it unfair. I’ve been in and out of juvenile hall for the past four years of my life. To me, life is unfair. But, I now know that my life has nothing to do with fairness. It has everything to do with my choices and the decisions that I make and knowing right from wrong. When I first got locked up, I wish I would have known what I know now. Now, here I sit in a place so lonely and so cold, missing the ones that I adore the most, my family. I’m losing precious time locked up in a cell when I could be spending it with them. I sit in my cell at night and think and wonder what my family is doing and what could happen to my loved ones. The pain of this loneliness I suffer sticks in my chest. It will not go away. I hope and wonder if my family is ok. I don’t know what I would do if something would happen to one of my loved ones while I am here. How would I forgive myself? Why was I so selfish? I was drinking and smoking trees when I was on probation. Now I’ve violated and I am locked up for eight and a half months. Life isn’t always fair because I made it that way. Now, I know what I have to do. I’ll be out soon and be with the ones I love. We live life by the way we choose to. There is not anything in life that is unfair unless I make it that way.

Entry #470
I look back at the 2013 year and think, “Is this really how I want my life to go, doing 120 on ankle monitor and then getting locked up for 120?” That’s 240 days of my life wasted and you know what? I’m back again! I did my 120 days and now I’m here for 50 more days but this is 2014 now, so who cares, right? I mean if look back on all the mistakes I made and think I could have just skated away and I wouldn’t be here. I could have skated away and I wouldn’t have been on ankle monitor, but instead I stayed and my mom is sounding like Drake from Marvin’s. She never heard the song, but said the lyrics perfectly, "I’m just saying you could do better. Tell me have you heard that lately?" I get sad because people tell me that all the time and I know it is true, but for some reason I think it’s impossible.

Entry #471
The Clock Is Tickin
Game lock, Money Talk
Best Believe I Speak It Fluently
Just Another Day, But Nothing Really New To Me
The Streets Influenced Me, And I'm Hustlin' Dough
Only 16 Years Old,
More Product Sold
But This Games Gettin' Old,
Streets Gettin' Rough
Ninth Time Locked Up, I've Almost Had Enough
Two Homies Passed,
It's Sad How Some Things Never Last
I Walk With A Style,
Dimples Attached To A Fake Smile
A Little Lady Too Far Gone, It's Been Like This For Awhile
Then I Hear "Pop" "Pop"
Shots From The Glock
Tick Tock, Times Runnin' On The Clock
Understand my livin'
And Like Mayweather "The Money Team" Was Winnin'
They Say A Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, And I'm The Painter To This Image
The Struggles Real, And Livin' Life In Strife
Sooner Or Laters Gonna Kill
A Lil Lady Movin' Forever Forward
This Is So Real.

Entry #472
I sit in room H6 and wonder what 2014 going to bring me that 2013 didn’t? Honestly, not much. I just sit here locked up like last time and the time before that. And I know I don’t want to change my life that much. I love the thrill too much. I love smoking and drinking and I'm not going to sit here and be fake and act like I want to do good. I know I’m not the worst kid but this place. The hall is like my home away from home. And I feel safe and comfy here. It’s really sad to hear that but I’m closer to kids in here than to my own family. My dad’s a low life and begs me for dope and I don’t even do it. My mother died from drinking, smoking dope, and driving. She did that because her boyfriend left her so she left me and my sister home alone by ourselves because she needed her boyfriend and drugs more than to take care of us, but 2014 is my year. I am going to live it the way I want and make the best out of it no matter what happens.

Entry # 473
Well, hello there 2014! How are you? Yearly I hope, well me? I’m doing fine; remembering 2013 like it was just eight days ago. I really can’t believe you made it! Well I just want you to hear about my goals, short term and long term that I have for you. First off, my short term goal for you is to get out of juvenile hall and go to school and graduate, change my attitude as best as I can, and try my hardest to control my anger. My long term goal is to get a good job after I graduate, while going to either college, get myself a nice apartment, and then, take care of my mother and father as they did for me. To meet these goals I will read them every day. Well again 2014, pleased to meet you!

Entry #474
I've got 30 days in here with discretion, so I can really get out whenever my PO decides.  Ankle Monitor for 60 days, no big deal.  I just have to say no to that green sticky stuff that gets me in trouble. I can't hang out with the same crowd because the crowd I hang out with gets me back in here.  This is my last time in here, guaranteed.  No more making momma sad.  No more making my dad feel down.  No more times of having my brother have to miss me at home.  It is time to change my lifestyle and put the past behind me. 
My mom is doing really good right now according to my PO.  I thought she only had a couple of months left, but it looks like it will be at least a couple of years now that she is doing a bit better.  She is way, way better, but still so sick.  Just no longer on her deathbed.
When I get out, I am going to handle business and finish my last 20 credits for my high school diploma.  I am going to walk across that stage and make my parents proud.  Goodbye Juvenile Hall, Goodbye.

Entry #475
Left Behind
For 2013 I leave behind me
All my past failures and misery
But I’m also leaving back a loved one
Grandma I love you and I always will
When I saw you in that bed you were laying so still
As soon as I saw you I started to cry
Because I knew this was going to be my final goodbye
From that day on I’ve been asking myself
Why wasn’t I around more
I just wish that I had another chance
Just to walk through your front door and see you smile at me again
But I guess there is no point in asking for what could have been

Entry #476
A Better Life
 The last part of 2013 is a part I want to leave behind, but it’s not all the same. I want to leave the drugs and people I met in the dust. Some of the people I’ll do fine without.  Others have made a great effort to help, but I was too foolish to listen. I wish this year I could listen and think more than I do. That way I could work on becoming a better individual rather than work on destroying all the progress I’ve made.  Regardless, I plan on using my past mistakes to correct my path for the future, by taking the wrongs and molding them into ways to do right. I’m tired of doing the things I crave, because it makes it hard and I don’t want that anymore. I’m going to do what the people who have my best interest at heart have suggested, because that is what’s going to help me achieve a better life.

Entry #477
I want to leave meth behind.
I want to leave Juvenile Hall behind.
I want to leave all drugs behind.
I would like to do good in life.
I would like to graduate High School.
I would like to get a job.
I would like to move from where I live
I would like to stay out of trouble

Entry # 478
Hello 2014/Goodbye 2013
        Goodbye to fake friends, drama, worries, bad behavior, Juvenile Hall and bad luck. Goodbye 2013.
        I don’t even want to associate with the kind of people who turned me into an angry, ugly, stressed, and worried person anymore. Goodbye to my poor behavior, juvenile hall and 2013. I started you off wrong and didn’t end well with you either. Thank you for making me stronger, for helping me realize who I am and who I can be. I want to change and for 2014 to come with better promises, times, and decisions.
        Hello 2014. Hello to new and hopefully good surprises, to a better future that I know nothing about, to new beginnings and better decisions. Hello to my sobriety, cleanness, new friends and a new attitude. My New Year’s Resolution is to build a better relationship with my mom, God, my siblings and school. I just want things to go better.

Entry #479
A Reason To Change
I welcome this year.  I get out in 3 months left and I'm ready to start my new year. In 2014 I became a dad. It’s crazy. I look at life in a whole new perspective. I can't wait to start my family. But this time when I get out I’ve got to do good, not just for myself but for my little man. That means no more guns and no more stolen cars. It just means I’ve got to be that family man and not focus on that gang life. I'm going to make sure my son has whatever he needs. I don't want him to have a life like mine. He deserves much more. The only thing I look forward to when I get out is to go back to the bay with my son and my girl. I just want to be back with my family. So I have to change for my son or I’m going to spend my life in a cell. I’ve got to change for you son. I love you.

Monday, January 13, 2014

December 2013-January 2014

Entry # 442
It’s not Christmas yet. I hope I get out before Christmas. It feels like the days never end waking up to the sound of the metal bolt popping open… that noise always wakes me up. I never saw what the world had out there for me. I realized that when I came here, going out to the yard I realized how beautiful the sky was, those white puffy clouds that float freely in the blue sky. I was so blinded. The only things that would come to me were tagging on the walls, throwing up my hood, getting in fights, and hustling for my money. I was so hypnotized to the gang life that I never thought of the good things that this world had for me. Where are my homies now? They said they would be there till the end. They’re out there living it up, when I'm in hear behind that blue door, alone, thinking if they'll ever write me or accept my calls. Do they even love me like they say they do? Being in here made me think hard. I was so stupid. My real loved ones were my parents, family, and my real friends, ones who would tell me not to do wrong. I never listen to them and look where it has taken me. It has taken me to a place where I never thought I would be, behind bars. I tell my parents and my real loved ones I'm sorry for not listening. I'm glad they accepted my apology. I'm a different man now. I got close to God and now I'm ready to face what the world has out there for me, living it the right way without those fake called "homies".

Entry # 443
How could you forgive someone like me?
No, how could you forgive me?
I hurt you, not a day over the last 17 years have you been free to rest, because of me.
I tossed you aside like old barbie dolls or candy wrappers.
But what for?
For boys? my first love, my fifth love, my current love?
For drugs? for powder, for glass, for poison?
For nights of wandering the streets, pupils the size of dimes? Almost as big as my possibility of death?
Or was it for my father? Whose he anyways? The man with my eyes...I guess my eyes are his.
The man who left us for cigarette smoking hookers and the chance of fame while being the "good cop"?
I tossed you aside and kept going back for more. For more of everything but you.
So tell me, how could you forgive me?
I remember telling you I wished you would fall down the stairs when I found out you were pregnant with my brother three years ago.
I remember telling you how much I hated you, but I never meant it.
I remember leaving you in the hospital, not even calling, when they told me you had to be resuscitated.
I remember choosing to smoke dope, snort heroin and screw my boyfriend for more. I should have been home.
But there you are, my beautiful, amazing, angel of a mother. Loving me, forgiving me, taking me back home.
And after all this time, I realize what I've done. I know I don't have much time left, but I'm different, so I'll show you how much I love you. Despite my evil past.
I guess you don't need to tell me why you forgave me. You did, and I can't thank the Lord enough for that… For you.
I love you, can I still be your baby? Can I still be your daughter? Can I still stay young and innocent in your eyes forever?
I left the drugs, divorced actually. For myself, for you, and for the Lord.
Thank you for your forgiveness, I finally forgive myself too.
Mom, more than anything, I love you.

Entry # 444
Mom’s Eyes
The moment in my life that I realized I wasn’t a child anymore was when my mom passed away. You could say I was just a kid, but that day I knew it was time to become a man. I lost someone I loved more than anyone in this world. That day I lost a part of my heart and the rest of it turned cold. My heart will never be filled again. The best I can do is try to do good for my mom and show her that I was brought to this life for a reason. I know I make mistakes but I can learn from them. It hurts when your locked in a cage over and over again. I miss my mom every minute of every day. I can’t ever forgive myself for the ways I used to treat her. I would do anything in this life to bring her back. I hope my mom’s is proud of me and forgives me for my evil ways. Every day I look at myself I see my mom’s eyes. I know she still lives in me. I LOVE YOU MOM!

Entry # 445
The Devil (Inspired by Entry #419 I am)
Once you try it, you can never turn back.  Your family turns away.  Your friends hate the new you.  Why, you ask?  Because you had a trip with the Devil’s drug.  You try to stop, but she gets you back.  You keep wondering why you love that needle.  Now you know.  You’ve been introduced to the Crystal Meth.  And the Devil lets you know you can’t ever turn back. 
My soul is black, black with sin.  I am trying real hard not to let the devil back in.  He introduced me to his drug.  It ruined my life.  I will quit!  This is not just jail talk.  It is coming from the heart.  I wonder what will happen in my future.  Right now, I’m just taking it day by day.  And I come up with ways to keep the Devil away.

Entry # 447
The Day
I stepped out the back door and fell down the stairs
Filling my lungs with fresh cold air
Impatient and wanting to go somewhere
I was only thirteen when death spoke in my ear
Telling me that he wouldn’t live another year
I cried and cried
Slowly dying inside
It had been a week since the "accident"
Those slobs had lied
"It was an accident I swear! I just wanted to show what I had and he died!"
"That's what they all say!” I shouted.
______ in the hospital bed
Head swollen as a balloon and brain dead
All these people talking all this he said she said
Until that day I was happy and persistent
Believing that nothing bad ever existed
I haven't visited this day in awhile
The day I learned I was no longer a child

Entry # 449
Whose She?
I was no longer a child when there was a bottle in my hand, and a cigarette in the other. I was no longer a child when I would wake up with no memory. I didn't know I was losing my childhood until it was too late. My memories from the age of twelve always start the same; pop a few pills, walk to a store and slip a bottle into my purse, and then go back to the group. That's all I have; no sports, activities, or friends my age. I remember thinking it was so cool, until I realized that I was hurting my family, myself and kids I barely knew, but it was too late, she had me. Whose she? Her name is Crystal. I was no longer a child when I met her. I was no longer a child when I knew the game. I thought I could have fun like a kid, a kid who drank. Same group, same routine, different day. I was no longer a child when I heard the words, "You're under arrest."

Entry # 451
Kid No More
Was there a time in my life when I realized I wasn't a kid anymore? Yes, that day came when me and my family moved to California. About a month after we moved the manager came knocking and said "Your rent is late you have 30 days to pay!" We got kicked out 30 days later and became homeless due to moms drug addiction... that day we got kicked out I finally realized that I couldn't rely on my mother to take care of me. I had to take care of myself. For the first two years of being homeless I bunked around with my generous friends. After I used up my welcomes at friends’ houses, I hit the streets at the age of 15. Having nowhere to go I started to sleep behind dumpsters, under bridges, and occasionally at homeless shelters. To stay warm at night, or not sleep at all, I started to use meth. For a long time it seemed to help being homeless... now that I’m sober I see that it was slowly destroying me, and turning my life upside down. But those experiences have also shown me how to be a better person for myself and for the ones I love. I dislike how I had to grow up so young, because now that I am older I feel like I was robbed if my childhood. 

Entry # 452
Christmas Miracle
Locked up for the holidays once again,
Angered by this all too familiar trend.
Watching old friends leave while I'm forced to stay,
For a Christmas miracle is all that I pray.
Leaving my radio off for it is nothing but a toy,
Filling my heart up with all this false Christmas joy.
Reminiscing on my 12-year-old innocence that was my last Christmas at home,
Fourth year in a row & I still be posted here like an old garden gnome.
Yet I accept my reality for what it relevantly is,
Feeling sorry for myself is just not the biz.
Although forlorn shadows slowly swallow my heart,
I refuse to give up this battle & dodge dart after dart.
No one can see the pain I've learned to disguise so well,
Even though my mind seems to desperately shout and yell.
Un-shed tears drown my head,
All I want is to be home in my bed.
Maybe one day I'll follow the path that leads the right way,
But until then this is where I'll stay.

Entry # 453
Power of Right
For me it’s not just being locked up, it’s about not being welcome home. Sure I've screwed up many times but I could have been home two months ago if my mom still cared. All she wants is her three little angels home with her third baby-daddy… perfect little family of three children. Why have the kids she can’t tell what to do home? It’s worked for the last ten years, first the oldest, now with the second oldest: If you’re done with me ma, then don’t pretend to love me anymore. I only stand to put up with your craziness because of my siblings. I’m done with the lies and the emotional ride you’ve put me through the last 18 drowning years. For once when I get out I’ll be in power of getting it right without your attempts to ruin my life.

Entry # 454
My Couch
I fall asleep on my couch
Exhausted, overly tired
I wake up in my bed
Ready to go.
I’ve been moved.
Don’t know how or why
But I don’t mind
I fall asleep on my couch
Ready to wake up moved.
I wake up alarmed
I’m still on my couch.
I scream
I yell
I cry
I don’t understand why.
All I know is I’m no longer a child.

Entry # 455
3 Years

Locked up for the holidays. Damn! I sit here alone, locked away because of my selfish ways. I pray to the lord for my pain, regrets, and mistakes to go away. In and out of juvenile hall, where I’ve stayed from 2010-2013. I’ve only spent a few holidays with my family over the years , the rest of the holidays I’ve spent locked away. The things I miss the most about holidays spent with the ones I love are just being free with my family like when my life was at ease. Holidays spent in a place like this will never be the same. Being locked up for the holidays will never change. It’ll always be the same. Locked up for the holidays, I’m the one to blame, But, That’ll all change.

Entry # 456
Those Few Hours

Year number two being away for the holidays. Last year was my first time being locked up. Just my 10th day and it was Christmas. Scared, alone, away from my family. Never would I wish that feeling on anyone. Yeah, there is visiting on Christmas. It's cool and means a lot to see my mom and dad, but nothing like if it was actually at home. Waking up to hot chocolate and opening presents. Playing outside with your family. Watching all of the NBA games and the smell of my mom baking the Christmas ham. I'd give up all of my mistakes for just those few hours. I know that there are many more Christmases to come, but I'll never get the ones back that I sat in my cell without my own clothes, without my family. The only thing mine is my tears.