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, August 26, 2015

Entry #934
End of the Month
I grew up poor. Even though I've always been poor, I've managed to make it. Feeling hungry, waiting to find a way to get food is hard. We depended on food stamps and when we ran out at the end of the month, my mom would have to steal and sell drugs to get money, just to put food on our table. Having no money has physically broken my family apart. We had to separate after not being able to afford our rent when it was due. Separating me, my sisters, my mom, and our dogs was the hardest thing. We all had to find somewhere to live, someone who would take us in. Even though not having money has made our lives a struggle, it still brings me happiness in the end because when I lay my head down at the end of the night, I know that my family will always make me happy no matter the situation. We don't need money to bring each other’s spirits up and we are always there for each other no matter what struggle we go through in life. That’s the best feeling in the world. I have learned that money isn't “all powerful,” because it still hasn't managed to take away my love, joy, and family.

Entry #936
Dark Days
I’m told I’ve been through a lot, but the thought never occurred to me
It was a rite of passage to watch my white and gray J's turn to scarlet and Burgundy
And I wasn’t even plagued by a single nightmare or a flashback
Just elevated my game, went from knife ware to a black strap
Living life like a match pack all lit up as one
Burning bright in the night
Leave an impact before I’m done
I know a war will come for a man who wants peace
But that seem like a paradox
Because the wars never cease
Like the war in the East, I was about the bread
Running up in the house, XD pressed against the head
But the past is dead, and I’m struggling to cope
Gotta look up
One year off of dope

Entry #938
I Hate Reunions
I wake up to a loud click to the cold steel doors; I realize I’m locked back up, coming out of a great dream that takes me out of this facility.
Stuck in a state of confusion, in and out for 4 years is taking its toll on me, commissary is getting empty, pod mates just reminiscing,

Happy as can be…
Took a hit of some weed...
Back on the streets...
Kissed my double styro cup...
Now I can’t stop leaning...
Hit the plug up...
I got everybody fiending…

I’m back…
Everybody greeting, happy to see me, kind of sad that this place is a reunion.  I guess it really is true, “What goes up, must come down.” I’ll be home sometime next year off probation. Once I leave there’s no coming back. Maybe I can graduate to the federal penitentiary with my brother.…..No,  I’m tired of the damn cells.

Entry #939
Paper with a Number
I have done some despicable things just for a piece of paper with a number and a picture on it, from drug dealing to robberies. Money is what runs this tiny little blue dot we call earth. Money can be the most fantastic thing that can happen to someone, along with the worst thing to ever happen to a person. It can change you as a person along to changing how people perceive you. In my life I have experienced having huge amounts of money and I have experienced having no money. It really took over my life at that time; I became so money hungry that I made a point to hurt people just to get what I felt like I needed. I would sell things to people I knew, and I knew in my heart it would just hurt them in the long run. As long as it would make me some of that money I was so entranced, it made me think it was okay. I've gone from rags to riches but in the end none of that matters because that is part of the reason I am where I'm at today...Stuck in a cage unable to contact the majority of my loved ones. If you can't memorize an address or a number then you’re simply out of luck.

Entry #940
Changing Course
Not being given a second chance…
It's been more like 15-20.
I've set myself up for failure time and time again.

The chance of my lifetime has come,
I'm escaping this county along with all the memories, and the fake Homies.
20 years from now, the smell of musk won't repulse me,

I'm going to a rehab
I’m going to find the old me!
Not going to be that 17 year old girl that's lonely.

Pathetic clouds have parted and the sun has escaped,
no longer stuck in the drugs living for the minute,
I'm now living for each day

Entry #943
Invisible Warfare
My life sometimes feels like a brick in the wall
empty and just blended with them all
I feel like I'm going to fall from the sky
I'm not afraid to die

Long nights my spirit fights
It's messed up to walk around with
No eternal light
Immortality is the key

I seek compassion
But my mind comes into play and
Positivity flees as selfish deeds replace
I drift into a chaotic place

The world feels like an evil game
Full of pain as my mind refrains
That is not my destiny
I have to quit stressing

Entry #945
Money, green as Sin,
I've witnessed things that shouldn't have been,
From that I've got a messed up life,
Liver disease, I've seen my grandma die,
My ma and dad used to cheat and lie,
They used to steal my things just to get high,
My mom, she's M.I.A,
Won't write back and it makes me cry,
My dad’s just as bad,
Every time I get close it makes him livid,
He’d say, "Money is never enough. To get through life you’ve got to be tough,"
Five years later I'm living in the Hall working out,
Standing tall but I want more out of life,
No more drugs no more strife.


Entry #947
I look out my window and what do I see? Street walking zombie people strung out on D.
It’s scary and sad how this life can be.
I can’t handle my emotions so I’m steady puffin on tree.
On the run again I’m deep in the street,
And I’m trying my hardest not to tweak.
What fills my heart with all of this pain?
Maybe it’s God’s punishment for saying his name in vain.
I pray for better days as I survive this dreamy haze.
Stuck in this lifestyle like a drug infested maze….

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
A street walking zombie person strung out on D.

Entry #948
they call me a witness
try and put me on the stand
I didn't write anything down
I didn't say anything man
I guess I am a witness
when it comes to poverty
hustlin the street
hopefully police don't bother me
I guess I'm just a witness
to what the drugs can do 
hitting licks, robing people
that’s a fiend for you
I’ve never been a witness
when it comes to the riches

Entry #950
To Fix Us
Baby why do we do this to each other,
why do we hurt one another,
we know we’ll be together forever,
I hate when we fight, it makes it hard to sleep at night,
without you bay life would never feel right,
sitting here crying, tears falling down,
slowly losing my sight,
what happened to us bay we used to be tight?
Now were always mad, making each other sad,
we have to fix us baby, don’t let our relationship go bad,
we have been through way too much to stop here,
losing you out of my life is my biggest fear, I stand in front of this mirror as I wipe my face tear by tear, wishing that you were here whispering I love you in my ear,
every day your gone my heart aches in pain,
my heads not sane, your my backbone,  
if I was old you would be my cane, I’m the tree you’re the rain,
without you I wouldn’t grow,
 I’m the boat you’re the paddle, without you I wouldn’t go,
don’t you see that you keep me strong?
Every day with you is right but every day without you is wrong,
 I’ll be out soon baby, not too long.

Entry #951
Rigor Mortis
I been through the struggle and I’ve seen the worst in people,
Man were living in hell, were surrounded by evil,
I got the devil sending whispers in my ear, I try to block him out and pretend I cannot hear
It ain’t workin’
I slowly feel the demons taking over like a virus in my soul, getting worse as I get older
I can’t fight them
Yeah, their inside of me, got nightmares taking over dreams, every single thought I think, even when I close my eyes to go to sleep
I can’t escape my, born into hate;  I really want to change but it’s a little too late….
I’m dead.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Entry #914
16 years in prison, no big deal
Mom’s out of prison, how do I feel?
I missed this woman whose name is mom
Can’t remember her face, gone for too long
Remember as a child I was taken away
From mom way back when on a Christmas day
My present from cps was to start a new life
No mom, no dad, had to fight to stay alive
Group home to group home, bounced around
Foster parents were ruthless, spanking abound
Then dad came to save me from Mr. Evil
Me and my sister safe from the cruelty
No shame in my game, we were living life
Then my dad met my step-mom: Mrs. Right
She had a daughter and 2 sons of her own
She practically raised me, I was never alone
10 years later mom's outta the pen
Promises me she won’t go back in
I'm fresh out of a placement named ROP
She’s clean and sober as clean and sober can be
Know I’m locked back up, product of a jailhouse breed
2 more phases to go, then I’ll be free.

Entry #915
The Mindset
I feel like I can really relate to Nelson Mandela’s quote because I’m the type to hold a grudge.  I know if I can’t convince myself to let things go, then I’ll always be plotting on ways to get back at people who I feel did me dirty. This is probably part of the reason I’m on probation and locked up in the first place. If I could just have the mindset Mandela had and leave behind all my hatred for certain people, then MAYBE I wouldn't be in the position I am now. I’m starting to learn not to let the little things get to me, but it seems like my pride always takes over, and I feel like I NEED to fight a certain person, or I NEED to smoke and drink just because everyone around me is doing it. I realize now that none of that is worth it, and 15 years from now I guarantee no one will remember any of this. If I keep doing the things I do, I’ll probably keep coming in and out of juvenile hall like the rest of these kids.

Entry #917
Gone and In the Past
Yeah I screwed myself but the system didn’t help much either.  It has taken me from my family and made my life hell classifying me with a bunch of kids I’m nothing like. They think they know what’s in my best interest but they don’t. I’m just a kid struggling trying to find my way and sorry I couldn't choose my mom or the way that I was raised. I’m done.  I mean it, I’m really ****** done living life in & out the hall or constantly up on the run. I wish I’d never robbed that house or started ditching school for a girl, but it’s done. It’s over. It’s gone and in the past. It’s time to take a step forward and live everyday like it’s my last. I have my future in my hands & hold the key to my fate. I've lived a crazy 16 years, looking death in the face. Dad, I’m sorry you had to play two roles as a parent because of the mom I never had.  I knew that times were hard and I only made them harder, but you never gave up. I couldn't ask for a better father.

Entry # 920
Slab of Concrete
They give you a slab of concrete and a mat; call it a bed, but I ain’t even buyin’ it
Whatever it is, I made it, so I’m gonna’ have to lie in it
In this life there’s no retrying, you gotta roll with the punches
Takes a strong will to live, because problems roll up in bunches
480 shitty lunches, and I’m getting’ ready for another
Do what you gotta do, I look at adversity as my lover
I met her undercover, she came to me as the fast life
Dressed up as P licks, bops, and them glass pipes
But as I reflect on past fights, stabbings, and shootings
I realize the game wasn't enhancing my life, it was actually diluting
The dreams I was pursuing, are no longer in reach
But I got no one to blame but myself

Entry #923
In Pursuit Of My Happiness
I want to get out and be free,
But I'm afraid I will continue to smoke trees,
That is my struggle in life,
I want to feel lit,
I want to feel light,
Staying up this summer night,
But I don't want to wake up tomorrow,
In my bed of great sorrows,
I need to stay free,
I need my mom to say she loves me,
I want to see my newborn nephew,
When I get out, I don't want to live in a trailer,
Am I failure?

Entry #925
To Be Free
What I need to leave behind to be totally free:
I need to walk away from my other half
I need to separate myself from negative thoughts...

I'm going to walk away from the hurt & sorrow
Walk away from the struggle of being told I can't;
I need to form a positive state of mind

Soon to know that I am worth it
I won't be told every day that I deserve this lifestyle
Soon to know that someone really cares about me to treat me like I'm a person

To walk away from the scars and bruises
No more running away from fear everyday;
From my dogs attacking you because there protecting me;

Soon I will be away from you so I don't have to fear anymore;
Soon I will love myself more than I have ever loved you
Because now I know that I deserve better & no one knows my struggle,

In time there will be nothing but a constant reminder of you through the scars
that are left to show:
I will know that I can be my own person without you.
Entry #926
You did meth seven months along
Look at me now making dumb choices
I can't stay away from the bong
And it's all your fault I'm hearing voices
The doctor said you can't have a child
But when you did you kept tweaking
The shit I've been thru isn't mild
I've seen you O.D. Just another weekend
I got dealt a shitty hand and can't put it back
Look at you now your six feet in the dirt
Used to have boards broken over my back
Dad got clean while you sat on the couch hella burnt
Entry #927
Before I walk out
My dark thoughts must stay
Forever keeping me isolated
They must vanish away

When I walk out
My troubled self will become anew
It will be a resurrection
To the path of my ambition

After I walk out
The immaturity will be no more
My eyes will be clear
Preparation will be used
Memories will always
Be in the back of my conscience

Yet a glorious path will forever be shown  

Entry #928
The Amazing Feeling of Freedom
As I leave the walls of confinement I’m expected to fail. Nobody thinks I will succeed. But I have too. What kind of life do I want? If I don’t leave my old ways in the past then the forecast for my future is filled with pain and isolation. Is that what I really want? Maybe? No. I will change because once I leave this place I will remember again the amazing feeling of freedom. It tastes so sweet. It will motivate me…. I tell myself repeatedly.

Entry #929
For me to walk out of here and be truly be free I would have to leave behind my family, all the disappointments.  I will have to leave behind most of myself, most of the stuff that has made me who I am and it won't be easy but I have to, for me. Anger and violence have made my life miserable. I need to leave them behind though they have been with me since before I can remember. I have to forgive everyone, but still trust no one. I have to leave behind "try" and pick up "do". I have to leave behind excuses. I have to lift my chin up, get in my zone, and live, but not let life get to me. #Freedom

Entry #931
Looking for the Key
If you really knew me
You would know
I'm full of mistakes and failures
Where I didn't learn
Life became a struggle
That would imprison my self esteem
Like a caged bear
Looking for the key to freedom

If really knew me
You would understand
I strive to become someone
Our of poverty and depression
Trying to show those who resent
I can succeed in this lifetime

If you really knew me
You would know
The difficulty in my journey
To the peak of happiness
Accomplishing the first
Of my family tree