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 3; More To Come!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Entry #1148
My mom was on both sides of good and bad: a good influence and a bad one at the same time. She’s a strong woman who overcame a lot. She had a drug addiction for the longest time that was tearing our family apart. I had to witness it first hand as I was growing up. My mother hit rock bottom, but as the strong woman she is, she persevered and worked hard at recovering from her addiction and getting her kids back. It took a while, but my mom did her best and eventually got my sister and I back. She got a place at an SLE called E-House. Those were the best and the worst times. We would have good days and bad days, but the bad days felt like they were outweighing the good. It was a hard point in our life. A few years down the road my mom got us our own place where we didn't live in an SLE anymore. Watching my mother overcome a hard life and rebuild it from nothing just to provide a roof over her kids and to put food on the table was enough to realize I have the strongest coach in my corner, someone who will always be there for me. Even though I messed up my life, my mother was always there to try and get me to do better and raise my self-esteem. I chose my path and life and there is nothing I can do about it but get over it and build myself back up. And, I always have the best person to look up to.

Entry #1149
Open Doors
          I remember her words like it was yesterday. I remember the words she would always tell me, “Te Amo Mija.” It still goes through my head like crazy. I was a little girl and my mother passed away.  My sisters and I were taken away from my dad because of his drug addiction. We went to a foster home, and were there for a couple of days. My family realized they didn’t want me growing up in the system. My family didn’t want me nor my sisters to think that we were alone.
         My aunt came and got me and my sisters from the main court downtown. My aunt really enhanced my life. It felt like I was back in my mother’s arms. Everything was going the right way.  My aunt would always give me good advice, but one day I started running away and doing whatever I wanted to do. I couldn’t stand living with her. I took her kindness for weakness, and tore our relationship apart. She didn’t trust me and gave me up to the system. Now I realize that people just want the best for me and they want me to be a different person, not like everyone else.
         After a while my aunt and I started talking again. And she decided to get custody of me, but she couldn’t. Now I live with my older sister and it’s different to be back with family. I started taking things serious and my family and friends have opened their doors to me again.

Entry #1150
Ready To Live
My mom got sentenced to 17 years in prison, and my dad’s about to get out. I didn't grow up in the best house, and I’ve never been friends with luck. I’m following in my father’s footsteps, trying to make a buck to eat. ''Nana my hunger is killing me, feed me PLEASE!'' My mom was never there and my dad didn't really care. I always relied on my grandma to be there and I know that’s not fair. I've done 11 months in the hall and I got 6 more to go. I now know what I have to do. My father’s footsteps are getting too small and mine are getting too big. Starting my own path. I am ready to live

Entry #1151
Best Thing
I grew up with only one parent (mom). She was raising three kids on her own. Idk who my biological dad is but I call my step dad my real dad. Here’s the thing, I called him dad because I thought he was my real dad. I was pretty young when he was in my life, and he treated me like I was his son. As I got older I started to realize he wasn’t my dad. He got locked up for 10 years and served 80% of his term. He recently got out. Last year he was out and I saw him. It didn’t feel the same with him around. I felt like I don’t need a dad because I got my mom. My mom’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Without her I wouldn’t be able to live my life. When I was younger my mom was in the system for a while. She was in an out of jail. When she was in jail my grandparents had to take care of me and my little brother. My sister always lived with my grandma anyhow. I was at my grandma house and one day all of us were outside playing with my sister’s turtle. Out of nowhere my grandma pulls up and goes, “Look who’s in the passenger seat.” My mom. I was so happy; all of us were. Long story short, my parents are great. I love them and always will. EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES.

 Entry #1152
Mom, a lost soul who loves to fly really HIGH.
Dad, always saying, "You’re going to be just like your mom, always locked up."
Mom, only met her once
Dad, breaking his back to feed a family of 9
Mom, gets out and guess what? Back on the run
Dad, never hit us but my feelings were bruised
Mom, feels like writing me a letter from jail
Me, I'm locked up wondering "Who are you?"
Dad never seems to sleep or even come home.
Moms out, met and made amends, while staying at her place
Dad seems to get skinnier
Mom, still working and buys us clothes
Dad can barely keep a job
Mom has an apartment now
Dad has gone insane
Mom, "I love you son."
Dad, "Where the hell have you been?"
Mom, "Your bedrooms a mess."
Dad doesn’t even have a house
Me, "Funny how things change, trippy, ain’t it?"

Entry #1153
A flower that haunts my dream,
A golden red with emerald green,
It is so serene, never to be seen,
Iris, my flower of dreams

Entry #1154
Worth Fighting
For the last three years I’ve sat and listened. Some things I hear are that I’m brilliant, but at the same time I hear that I’m worthless and broken. I don’t know which one is actually true anymore. I had everything, but somehow I’ve thrown it all away, so I guess I’m worthless. I don’t know how to cope with anything anymore. I can only push people away, which means I’m broken. Yet, I keep sitting here thinking everything will change, but deep down I know it won’t. Is it even worth fighting for anymore?

Entry #1155
Change Poem
I was lost.
I remember his evil face.
I heard “You little piece of shit”.
I saw my mom get hurt.
I worried it would never stop.
I thought he’d never get put behind bars.
I want to change.
I am smart.
I think life is worth living now.
I need to prove everyone wrong.
I try to leave drugs behind.
I feel powerful.
I forgive him.
Now I can change.
I will be happy.
I choose to move on.
I dream to see my mom happy again.
I hope to never use drugs to feel good about myself again.
I predict I will be successful.
I know I will make it.
I will change.
    Only The Strong Survive.

Entry #1156
Probably Not My Last
When I'm locked up, I feel trapped inside a little room. When I'm on the outs I feel like I'm on the run 24/7. For that reason, I'm always inside. I'm usually with my friends, I'm never home because my dad and I are always fighting. The reason we're always fighting is the 30 pack of Budweiser bought every day after work. Eventually I just started running away and getting into trouble with friends, drinking and smoking at the high school or skatepark which got me caught up in the first place. Now I'm locked up in a facility where there is no smoking, drinking, or even cussing, plus I’m in a small cell most of the day. This is my forth time here and to be honest probably not my last.

Entry #1157
The Best, The Best!
I can hear his words in my head like a good repeated dream. My grandpa, he would always say to our family, "The best! The best!" even when it wasn't the best. Whenever we had a meal he would always say "This is the best! The best!” Whenever we did something together it was “The best! The best!” To me, I always thought he said this because really he meant it was the best he was with his family at the moment. He didn't really think what we were eating or doing was the best, it was he thought being with all his family that was the best, that we were together spending time. He opened up my eyes to realize how important and meaningful it is to be with family, surrounded by people you love and that love you back. What could be better than that? Nothing! Because it is the best! The best! I love my family and every time I get to spend time with my family I'm going to cherish every minute of it.

Entry #1158
I don’t want to be here, but I have no home. When I’m surrounded with people I still feel alone. I miss my family and their hugs, but all I do is make bad choices and do drugs. Before school, by mom said do the best you can. Afraid of failure, instead I ran. I continue to run away because I feel free but the demon I’m running from is really me.

Entry #1159
Never Again
Never will I love again.
I tried to stand with the world on my shoulders and wound up on my knees.
My soul screams out please. My heart just won’t beat.
I cried puddles of tears that seem to drown me.
I’m spiritually crying but physically you won’t hear a sound.
I’ve watched my mother cry and my family mourn.
My daughter is the love of my life.
I constantly did wrong and I pray she knows what’s right with all the might that’s in me.
I can’t seem to shake this pride and envy that swells up within me.
I know God is calling but I’m just tryin’ to learn my destiny
Father, if you are listening, I pray you don’t let them get the best of me.
I’m afraid to go to sleep because that’s where I face my fears.
My heart is broken.
My soul has been shedding tears for years.
Never will I love or breathe again. This lifestyle of mine I wish I can disown it (but pride gets in the way)
Empty and hollow is how I feel on the inside.
Never will I love again.

Entry #1160
Gone For A While
                My mom’s been gone for a while now, and we haven’t talked for months. It’s almost like my whole family doesn’t want me to be part of them anymore. My Dads not really a dad to me, I met him when I was eleven, and I’ve only seen him a couple times since. It’s been 4 years since the last time I’ve seen the guy. I never understood what I did to either of them to be treated like I don’t exist and I’ve really started to hate it. I miss my mom; I just wish she felt the same.

Entry #1161
Street Knowledge
Streets were my home
The drugs were the exit for my pain    
Running from the cops was fun        
Underground was where we met  
Guns solved my problems
Girls with hella drama
Live life as a criminal
Ending in a place where dope ain't made
Krank was my drug to stay awake
Never liked it  
Over time my body was not acting right  
We all made mistakes 
Lived my life how I wanted
Ended up missing for a couple of days
Ending all the stupid stuff I did and put an end to the lifestyle I would love to change         

Entry #1162
I was a boy who had a lot of dreams and hopes. I remember my dad always getting drunk and arrested. I heard my friends call me “Flaco” because I’m skinny. I saw my grandpa’s grave and felt really sad. I worried about getting lost in drugs and alcohol and leaving school. I thought I was going the right way by getting high and drunk to ease my pain. But, I want to change.
I am respectful because to earn respect, you need to respect the people around you. I think that the world should be clean and neat and filled with fun. I need my diploma and I’m heading for college. I try to be respectful and stay out of trouble. I feel glad because I’m doing good and trying hard. I forgive those who hate me or don’t like me. Now, I can change. 
I will be a better person and become an AA member. I choose to live a sober life and get new friends. I dream about sky diving; it should be scary and fun. I predict that I’ll be working as a preacher. I hope to get my G.E.D and go to college. I predict that I’ll do good and never fall again. I will change.
Entry #1163
My grandma has always looked out for me, for my best interest.  She is always telling me to stop running the streets.  When I am on the streets, my dad is always looking out for me.  There would be people saying I did this or that.  He wouldn’t tolerate it.  He had my back and always has.  The two of them are hard headed.  To be honest all three of us bump heads.  My grandma and dad argue over the kids.  My dad’s girlfriend is a little bit crazy, you know.  She is always trying to take the kids.

I have visiting tonight.  My sister, brother, dad, and grandma will all be here.

Entry #1164
A Brother
My older brother has always been someone I look up to. I grew up without a dad and he basically filled the spot. He has always helped me and supported me, even now while I sit in juvenile hall. He has done so much for me in life; I can't even explain how happy I am to have a brother like him. From changing my diapers when I was a little to teaching me how to play sports when I got older. He recently got married so I don't see him that much anymore. But I know we will always be close. I love you brother!

Entry #1165
Thoughts in My Head
Your touch, your smile, and your scent I miss…
As the days go by I wonder if I still exist.
I ask myself, “Do you think about me?”
I think about you.
Do you love me still?
Have you moved on?
Are you being faithful?
All these thoughts go through my mind while I’m incarcerated…
I think of all the fun times we had, wondering if there will be
more to come when I’m released, or will you be gone
blown away like dust in the wind?
Until then I’m being patient, waiting until the time
I feel your touch, see your smile, and smell your scent.

Entry #1166
I can remember her words like it was yesterday, “I choose the drug over you.” My ex-girlfriend and I were arguing over nothing. After the last time I was released all we did was argue.  She always told me it wasn’t her arguing with me, it was the drug. It grew old to me and one night I asked her, “It’s either me or the drug because I’m tired of being hurt.” I thought I knew her better, but she told me, “I choose the drug over you.” I didn’t want to believe what I had heard… I asked her if that was what she really wanted and she repeated herself. I gave her everything she wanted and we have been through so much, but it was over between us just like that. She gave me no choice. I couldn’t believe that she let the drug take her. Now she’s chasing after me because she sees that someone else is making me happy. But honestly, I’m glad that we broke up because I wouldn’t have met the person that makes my heart beat a little faster.

Entry #1167
Steady Ticking
I’m at a loss of words, nothing to write about….bored out of my mind, silence surrounds me along with muffled voices and the steady ticking of the clock. Thoughts of being free and starting a new life in a new city.

Entry #1168
My parents have always been there for me no matter what.  Throughout my whole life they have always been providing for me and my other four brothers.  They would struggle sometimes, but at the end of the day they would always have food on the table.  My father said very little would stop him from seeing me.  He recently found out from his doctor that he has cancer.  When I found out I was crushed.  I still am and I am always worrying if he is OK.  I won’t know because I’m in this s-hole and as long as I’m still in here I am going to continue to worry.  I wish my probation officer would at least come in here to talk to me so I could tell her how I feel.  I’ve had three nightmares about him passing away and none of the staff here seem to care.

Entry #1169
Thinking Twice
I will always think twice
Too much pain and sorrow

However there’s always a tomorrow
Ugly but ferocious
Righteous and always evil
Takes away who I am
Solid but will never break

Bloody tears and hatred
Ever will I laugh?
Cautious and nauseous
All down and out
Unusual and crucial
Serious and deadly
Evilness and sympathy

Irritated at the world
Trouble it awaits me

Many people can demonstrate me
Annoyed kills all happiness
Too much power will devour cowards
Tiny but very cruel
Ever will I surrender?
Right and never wrong
Sunny days never fade away

Entry #1170
Moving From One Place to Another
I have been in endless foster homes, starting when I was three. My first foster home was in Grass Valley. The parents were Bill and Cathy. They were always doing plays with puppets and they would scare me. They were also using clowns, so now I am scared of all those things. I hate them! Those foster parents were physically and mentally abusive. The other families I lived with were almost always abusive too. There were some foster homes I liked, but that number was tiny compared to those I disliked.

Entry #1171
Life Crash
I can remember like it was yesterday watching my father slowly fade away. Knowing that he’s soon going to pass away. I know when he does he will be in a better place. As days go by, time slips away as we’re sitting there looking up at the sky. Knowing the doctor told him he’s got a couple of weeks until he dies. We sat there and cried and I screamed asking God why. As a couple of days pass I slowly watch my life crash. My dad was dyeing before my eyes as he gasps for air in my arms. He was gone and disappeared. I sit here and remind myself of all the things we could have fixed when he was sick. I soar threw all my memories knowing that I will always remember him.

Entry #1172
I believed in you. I believed in us, the only thing I felt when we argued and fussed. Remembering the day I met you, you became my friend instantly then I fell for you. So hard I fell that I left everything behind for you. You became mine, the thing I wanted most. You always told me you would be there for me. You made a promise that no matter what you would stay by my side. I trusted you. I believed you, but then the day came when you simply had enough. The red river became ever so real as I had held you so close to my heart. I heard your last words be, “I loved you the most.”

Entry #1173
My mother, my queen, my best friend. I love her so much, I would do anything for my mom. Not just because she’s my mother, but also because the things she’s done for me as my mother.
Growing up we never had much. My mom divorced my brother’s dad and we’ve been on our own since then, just the three of us. Along with the fact that we are the black sheep in the family and my dad was never in the picture. She never wants anybody’s help, she’s an independent woman. She has only had a few small jobs and even when she didn’t she found a way to keep food on our table and clothes on our backs. She definitely didn’t raise me to do the things I’ve done.
My brother moved out of state with his dad, so it’s just been me and my mom the last three years. I don’t even know how she put up with me. I started seeing this boy, staying gone for weeks, then months. Doing things I never thought I would do. She never gave up fighting for me. She would stay up all night trying to get a hold of me and going to people’s house asking if I was there or if they knew where I was.
Most people wouldn’t put up with a child like me. Now I’m 18 and I finally opened my eyes, my mother is still by my side. Call me crazy, but I’m surprised and glad my mom is still healthy enough to even walk. She has very bad health and I had her so stressed the doctor said she had to slow down before she had a heart attack or a stroke. She’s doing a lot better now that she can sleep and live life. I have the absolute best mother and I’m going to spend the rest of my life making it all up to her.

Entry #1174
I Know I Am
I can remember her words like it was yesterday
My aunt always told me, “Don’t do that. You’re eventually gonna get locked up. I’ve been there, I know what’s gonna happen.” I didn't listen…now I'm here in Juvy always remembering what she said, her letters explained what this place was like. But I knew I was going to end up here. I knew one day by the life that I lived I was going to be here so I need to be a man about it. I always had to be my own man since I was 8 years old. My parents couldn't really care for me. Dope had their brains messed up and I used to follow them and watch them do it. It messed my head probably as much as the dope did theirs. My family were my friends. They were always older than me, so I looked up to them. They fed me when no one else could. For that I will be forever grateful. Later on, my parents broke up and I didn't know what to do, so I went with my dad and my brother. My sister was sent to Mexico and I haven’t seen her since.
I knew I was heading the wrong path, but what other choice did I have? I had no rides to school, so I was forced not to go which eventually led to hunger. My friends told me I have to make money and make something of my life. “Don't be a dropout who does nothing, be a dropout who makes it.” So I started 'hustling'. People always told me “You are something special, I can see it in your eyes." My whole life I thought I was different and to this day I still do. I believe I can make it without school. Some think I sit at home and do nothing, but I think about my future every day. I know what I have to do. I have to take risks to get to where I want to be, even if no one believes in me. It doesn't matter because no one in this world cares where I'm going to end up except me. I have to do things for myself and I will prove that I'm worth more than what people think of me. I know I am...I know I am... When I get out, I work every day. No taking breaks. I don't have long before I'm 18. I have to make something of myself.

Entry #1175
Sobering Thoughts
I’m in again. I hate but love it at the same time. I hate being here, but I love being here. I can try to get off probation. While I am here I’m not misunderstood or have depression problems. I just seem to not stay on the good side of the law, but I’m trying to change all that and my sobriety is always good while I am inside.

Entry #1176
I can remember her words like it were yesterday, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” She would always tell me this when she would put me on timeouts and, I’d complain. She’s never done any time, but looking where I’m at now, I realize what my mom was trying to tell me.

Entry #1177
Think Positive
                My dad is an amazing person. Without my dad in my life I don't know what I would do. I respect my dad, he not only takes care and provides for me, but all my sisters as well. When I told my dad I'm stuck 8 to 14 months, I felt like a failure. All my dad said was, "Think positive! You can do anything you set your mind to!" My dad is an amazing person, he is always there for me, believes in my ability, and knows exactly what to say to pick me up and motivate me when I'm feeling down.

Entry #1178
Started from the Top now I’m here
1st- Life was simple when I was younger.
2nd- Then Daddy left Momma with none.
3rd- Went from living in five bedrooms to motel rooms.
4th- Searching for a place accepting Section 8.
5th- Turned fourteen and became imprisoned.
6th- Introduced to a monster then nothing was the same.
7th- At fifteen I’ve seen things you only see in hood movies.
8th- December 18th came around, sixteenth birthday jail bound.
9th- Christmas Day special visits Momma came to see me with a sad present.
10th- Two of my brothers passed away between my birthday and Christmas Day.
11th- Finally free, but not of the game, alcohol, or weed.
12th- Stranded in the rain, pack of Newports hardly numbs the pain.
13th- Family looks down on me talking a gang of smack on me.
14th- Seventeen running the streets, watching my back because people are after me.
15th- Momma ain’t seen me in 120 days; she is worried I’m going to come back in a grave.
16th-”Let’s take a trip upstate?” They say “Money comes easy and the feds ain’t there.”
17th- Things go wrong and police call my mom to tell her the search has been done.
18th- Seventeen spending time in county.
19th- Ain’t never had a felony, why’d I choose to take someone’s identity.
20th- Praying to God to take away my mistakes.
21st- Judge gives me a chance and says I can go back home and not come back.
22nd- My p.o says probation just ain’t my thang and he’s gonna let me off.
23rd- I’m juiced few weeks and I’m back out like I made no mistakes.

Entry #1179
A Re-Do or Two
I would like to re-do the night I got arrested for the crime I am still in custody for today. That night was one of the worst nights of my life. One of the craziest parts about that night is that I can’t even remember parts of it. The second thing that I would re-do or take back would have to be the days when I first started to drink alcohol. At first it was fun to be out and party but it quickly turned into much more. Alcohol opened the door to drugs and drugs opened the door to a new scary world that I would have been better off staying out of. So yeah, if I could take back or re-do two things from my past, those would definitely be the two.

Entry #1180
Her Words Yesterday
I remember her words like it was yesterday, "I love you I just want the best for you babe". Honestly those words mean a lot to me because she means a lot to me. I really feel ashamed of myself for abandoning her just because I decided to stay active for my gang, but in reality I should have been active for her love and affection. It also hurts me inside to know that when I was with my boys, she was home alone feeling like I betrayed her. I truthfully would have had more of a good time with her than with anyone else in this world. I'm sorry for acting so ignorant and skeptical; I just want you to know that I love you I miss you and that I am legitimately shameful for not listening to you when you just wanted the best for me.

Entry #1181
He lurks in the darkest of places,
He wears robes of woven fear,
If you listen closely you can hear,
But you’ll never know when he comes,
Because he takes at random for fun,
But don’t cross his path,
Because it’s guaranteed you won’t last,
And he knows no mercy, as far as I see it.
He’s claimed more lives than any others,
There is only one and no other,
He has many names given to him by others,
But he is most commonly known to others as Death.  

Entry #1182
Who Am I?
Hey come see me with my dolls. I enjoy throwing them against walls. I scream and cry, I bash my head purposely and you ask why. Dien blut ist mein is what I chime, all while I play with kitchen knives on my free-time. I haunt and I joke, I hit and I choke. My life is still, creative, destructive, and crisp like a dollar bill. I’m no ordinary boy. I am one who people call a toy. See me stand up all on my own, but never stay in a room with me alone. Charming, smart, and a bit sharp. Do you know who I am? Don't you know I'm Chuckie man. 

Entry #1183
I can remember her words like it was yesterday. She’d say, “You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it,” and for a while I started believing it, but things don't always turn out good for me. I'm like, crap, isn't their anything I can do to make things right? I'm just tired of the way I have been living my life because I keep getting locked up for not thinking before I act. When am I going to get out?

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