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!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Youth in juvenile hall participated in a fiction contest put on by the Chico News and Review where the stories had to be EXACTLY 59 words!  Fiction entries consist of numbers 1266-1301 from both Fresno and Butte County Juvenile Halls.  About 25 of these were submitted to the contest and in the High School category, students placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and two honorable mentions. Check them out: https://goo.gl/1mnFX8

Entry #1266
I was falling, forever falling.
Tumbling through the bushes and trees.
How did I get here?

I thought I could fly this time.
Looking out over the horizon, I knew there was more to see.
And more to know.

Sarah yelled "NO!"...I said, "YES,
I need to reach the stars."

I heard  “no,” echoing.

She was right.

Entry #1267
Truth or Dare
The blood curdling dare to run through the train tunnel was just too much for Pedro to resist.  As he ran majestically toward the other side, his companions’ screams were chased by the vibrating roar.  Sunlight barely glazed his sweaty hand as his last breath of diesel pong was drawn. The defying coffin relented to accept his mangled remains.   

Entry #1268
Home Sweet Home
Mikey sprints towards the gate of escape. He breathes heavily as if air is a sedative and he is in unbearable pain. The relief inhales him as he gets away from the war at home. Mikey knows he’ll soon be back in battle of emotional regret that tears him apart like a house in the eye of the storm.

Entry #1269
Johnny's Second Thought
Cutting left, spinning right, Johnny was flying down the field for the game-winning touchdown, clumps of grass flying up behind him. He saw the wide open space, until the beastly child, number 56, the middle linebacker, appeared.. Johnny was hit so hard; he never felt such pain. He dropped the ball, tried desperately to crawl. Game over. Cheerleading, perhaps?

Entry #1270
Where's Roger... Lost at Sea
From under the bridge to out in the dark blue sea, I watched Roger swimming with dolphins. Throughout the waves sharks emerged viciously, coming his way, looking for food. Roger was swimming like a seal.  At the sight of the fins, he thrashed and almost drowned.  Roger wasn't a seal but he would do. He tasted sweet and sour.
Entry #1271
7 Minutes
Cigarette smoke always burned Amber’s beautiful, sad brown eyes. With every drag she took of the evil cancer stick, it also burned holes in her fragile, helpless lungs.  For some reason, Amber couldn’t care less. She finally exhaled the cloud of death.  “Ah, another 7 minutes I don’t have to deal with,” she said, sounding almost pleased with herself.

Entry #1272
(2nd Place--High School--Chico News and Review)
Oro Dam Blvd.
I seemed to be walking through the deep streets of Oroville, wondering if I’m sleeping. Or am I awake? I ponder this for just a moment while I stroke a thick beard I never knew I had. Wondering if I should shave it, a giant cockroach in thinly braided wire spectacles asks me if I would like a cigarette.

Entry #1273
Game Over
I threw a punch, breaking his nose.  He got up and started kicking me.  Then, BAM!, I was put on my ass.  I got up frustrated and pissed, ready to throw the next punch.  Again, BAM! Right in the face.  I went down. I got up BAM! and down again.  Game over.  I got mad and threw my controller.

Entry #1274
A Freshman Dream
Jimmy was having the best time of his life, sleeping in, hanging out, partying it up for the beginning of summer after passing all his tests and classes. Suddenly,the harsh, squeaking sound of a failing grade being marked on his exam woke him up. He wiped drool from his mouth. It was only the end of first period.

Entry #1275
(Honorable Mention--High School--Chico News and Review)
One thousand six hundred and ninety five days.
It had been three years since Shane and his mother had spoken. In county’s juvenile hall they talked over the merciless blue phone. She told her son she was in a rehab and doing well. She had made plans for Shane and her to get clean and start their lives over again. Shane had no room for that whatsoever.

Entry #1276
Dark day  
It was a dark day in this small little town: later known as the Day of Darkness. Clouds covered the sky. Then a bright light appeared and a loud sound. A roar, like a lion. From the light appeared a dragon, which lit up the sky. Blowing fire, the dragon emerged.  Within seconds everyone was destroyed within the city.
Entry #1277
Pizza is better than People
A half hour before her guests were due for Thanksgiving dinner, Gloria was still asleep. Her phone rang and woke her. She thought of how her family talked down to her, and decided they weren't worth her time. She made a call to Dominos, ordered a pizza, and cancelled Thanksgiving dinner with her ugly relatives, and fell back asleep.
Entry #1278
Not Worth the Fight
Lucy got in a fight. Flashing lights; handcuffed in a squad car; officially in “The Hall.” A woman with witch eyes asked her uncomfortable questions, followed by a strip search.

She feels like a mental patient walking through the lifeless halls lit by flickering lights. This is not where she is supposed to be. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Entry #1279
The Escape
I was in my cell when out of nowhere, BOOM my door blew off. It was an
escape. We ran through the hall's while the piercing sound of the alarms and red lights flashed.
We got out the building. The sounds of shouts and barks distant in the background. Moving across the water, Alcatraz got smaller as we swam.

Entry #1280
(1st Place--High School--Chico News and Review)
Need A Ride
After losing his finger to the mower, John had to stop hitchhiking for a while. Walking past an art studio, he remembered his thumb. He decided to mold a ceramic fist with a perfect thumb sticking out. He hitchhiked again with his backpack and dog, Chago. John got picked up faster than he ever did with a real thumb.
Entry #1281
Running Mad
He could feel  the thump in his chest and hear the short wisps of his breath. He was scared but he refused to lose. He wasn’t going out without a fight. He could feel most of them on his tail getting closer and closer. He sees his friend ahead. As he passed the rest, he raised his arms victorious.
Entry #1283
Anything Will Help
Kim robbed a liquor store and as she ran out the getaway car was not there. She didn't start out to become a criminal. She was an average, everyday person. What Kim did next would determine how the rest of her life would go. She saw a man standing by the door and traded the bottles for his coat.
Entry #1284
(Honorable Mention--High School--Chico News and Review)
Dead Meat
Walking down the street Alex noticed that a strange black van was following him. Trying not to panic, Alex started to walk faster. The black van began to speed up. Alex sprinted as fast as he could to his house, six blocks away. The van pulled in his driveway as if it lived there.. Suddenly his mom got out.

Entry #1285
Painstaking Pace
Derick Black blew from town to town. The locals called him “distant” and “weird” all because he was so young and silent. They would never learn his secrets. They could see the pain that left the marks on his body.  The brilliance of his art painted on the brick wall was outstanding, but he was nowhere to be found.
Entry #1286
(3rd Place--High School--Chico News and Review)
Free Falling
Ralph was soaring high above the dull earth. He stepped to the rattling metal door. He would hurl himself at the world below. His stomach in his throat, he leaped toward the ground. The planet came plummeting toward him. He pulled the chute. Nothing happened. The ground approached, his mind racing. He screamed “This is what I lived for!”

Entry #1287
Dark day
It was a dark day in this small little town. Day of darkness. Clouds covered the sky. Then a bright light appeared and a loud sound. A roar, like a lion. From the light appeared a dragon, which lit up the sky. Blowing fire, the dragon emerged.  Within seconds everyone was destroyed within the city.
Entry #1288
Kuwait City
Colonel Bryson was shipped to Kuwait City for his first time ever. He loaded his 30 aut. 6 to the top with full metal jackets. The Sonar executives were having dinner with the company and friends, even old Tom Shaner was with them. Colonel Bryson aimed the infrared at the wall of house. Thunder rolled over the whole town.

Entry #1289
My family was scared, a ghost was running through the house and was playing tag with his cousins and friends. Our eyes were big, scared and popped out because we saw and heard ghosts. We called other families and told them to call the ghostbusters.  Just then, a door slammed and glass was breaking from left and right, ahhhhh!

Entry #1290
The Clock     
3 am. The clock's gunshot tick was driving John mad. The constant nagging of the clock painfully reminded him of his beautiful wife. He felt like throwing something at it. Too tired. If he fell asleep at work his boss might yell at him. Or worse. While he was thinking he kept on hearing the constant tick, tick, tick.

Entry #1291
Test Tube Babies
She’s fourteen with five siblings. They’re a flock. They were born in test tubes, in a lab run by crazy freak scientists. The scientists did experiments on these kids. I forgot to mention these aren’t normal kids. They have wings, can read minds, breath under water, they are mutant freaks. Now the flock’s mission is to save the world.
Entry #1292
I was at home, bored. My girl called me and asked me to get ready. I said, “what for?” She just told me to get ready. So, I put on a clean outfit. Polo, Rock Rivals, and the Carmine 6’s. She finally picked me up I asked, “Where are we going?” She said we’re going to Six Flags.

Entry #1293
In the Kitchen
I run quickly out the door, down the long hallway. I have maybe 10 feet left to run. It feels like it’s taking forever.  Just before, the door slams shut and I lose my chance. I make it into the kitchen.  God, I’m starving.  I run toward the stove. Smash! “Gross, why is there a cockroach in the kitchen?”

Entry #1294
Last night I had another dream about being at home. It was like an any other normal day being out of the juvenile hall complex. I ate my breakfast, of eggs with cheese and some crystal hot sauce. I also had some hash browns, bacon, and some cold orange juice. When I woke up, I was hungry and mad.

Entry #1295
Finally Found A Mom
Marcus lost his mother at three years old, last seen in a CPS office, fighting the restraints. Eventually, his friend's mom took him in. Years later, at his graduation, standing on the stage with a crowd of unfamiliar faces, he spotted his adopted mother. Their tears streaming. In that office, years ago, he thought he wouldn't have a mom.

Entry #1296
Once upon a time, I was driving home. It was late at night. As I am driving, I happened to see a kid that appeared to be around thirteen or fourteen. I stopped to see why he was out by himself so late. As I pulled over and got out of my car, the juvenile appeared to have disappeared.

Entry #1297
How it really is.
‘’Bum,’’ someone said to Shane, but being homeless isn’t so bad, he thought. He’s rarely hungry. He has Billy Bob to thank for that. Billy leaves food in the Mugger’s Coffee.. Shane had plenty of blankets so he wasn’t cold; he had more true friends than when he had an income. He realized he didn’t really miss a paycheck.

Entry #1298
Scooby’s Baby
There was a dog named Scooby who loved to take care of babies. One day Scooby saw a baby lying in the middle of the street crying. Scooby approached the baby and the baby jumped with joy, and Scooby knew that this was a special baby. So Scooby took care of the baby until he was 18 years old.
Entry #1299
Hello Sunshine
It was a Monday morning. The sun was shining so bright. I was on my way to school when I saw the love of my life walking by. I said “Hi.” She ignored me. I thought she just didn’t hear me. Later on that day at lunch I saw her again. I asked her out and she slapped me.

Entry #1300
Is She The One?
A yellow minion suddenly appeared across the street. I asked my friend Joe, “Do you think she’ll like me if I go over there asking for her number?” He replied without looking up, “I don’t know, but before you go, you better check your zipper”. Confidently walking down the street, I noticed it was just a reflection of myself.

Entry #1301
Jail Birthday
My seventeenth birthday is coming up. I do not want to spend that day in here. I wish I was out so I can spend that day with my friends and family. I’ll make the best of my birthday being incarcerated. I’m just thankful that I’m still alive and get to see another day on this lovely earth again.

The remaining entries are Non-Fiction…...

Entry #1302
I Knew Then...
I was about 12 years old.I started to realize that everyone around me was using meth:  My dad and even my grandpa.One day I was snooping around my grandpa’s bedroom looking for the keys to the quad.There was a little vial on his keychain and I took it.There was about an 8-ball inside of it. I tried it out in my weed bong and it just dissolved.I knew someone who did drugs across the street from my house.I told him I would give him some dope if he showed me how to smoke. After we both smoked, he gave me his pipe.I really just started doing it off and on after that with my friends and many people who had never done dope, but I showed them. Most of them were older than me, but some were as young as twelve. It wasn’t a daily thing for me back then, just whenever I could get it.  The first time my grandma and them started to realize I was using was when my buddy came to my house.We were up all night with a blowtorch and my grandma found it.She didn’t want to ask me if I was tweaking because she scared it would be true.When she did ask, I denied it.When I really started using, I got really bad on it and I woke up with my nose bleeding on my desk and my room barricaded.  I knew then I was addicted.

Entry #1303
Old Habits
Something I would love to do but I’m not sure I can is to complete the terms and conditions of my probation, one month from now. Once I get out, I start my 16 months of probation and have never been on formal probation. Befor I got arrested I self-medicated and smoked weed on a day-to-day basis. Smoking used to help me be more social and less stressed. I went from smoking every day for about four years, to not smoking at all because I got locked up. When I get out I’m not sure if I will be able to complete my probation. I am worried I will fall back into my old habits.

Entry #1304
Gone With the Wind
Gone with the wind
All her thoughts and sins
Everything she’s been through
From beginning to end
Can she handle the pressure?
Or will she cave in
Who was to help?
When she begged and she pleaded
She remained by herself
As she was truly defeated
Yes it is true she’s gone with the wind
And no longer mistreated

Entry #1305
Out of the System
Every week spent in Juvy is the same. The only thing that changes around here is that so many people come and go. Some stay for a couple months and leave. The worst part is that I’m still here watching all the people come and go while I’m just here waiting to figure out how many years of this **** I have to do. I build relationships with some of the people who stay for a while just to see them leave, saying that they think I’ll go home soon. I hate when people say that because I know it’s not true. I don’t see the point in getting people’s numbers and contact information because in a time spent of two to five years, that information usually changes. I hope soon I can go home like everyone else around me. The only difference between me and them is I’m going to get out of the system and not come back like these other kids around me who come and leave like it’s a joke.

Entry #1306
My Choice
I might be able to do it this time,
Foster care, maybe a Group home, and perhaps school.
This time I won't let my mom, who has been brought back into the picture after so long, down,
Or maybe I will.
Haven't I earned the right to be selfish?
Or what about using a drug that makes me not care?
I've always let other people's feelings about my safety and well being hurt me when I leave them,
But they're hypocrites.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Entry #1307
I'm out of it
I can’t think, so I can’t do.
A love lost, but what's it to you?
You had a chance to help me do right,
but all you did was ruin my life that night.
I needed your help and all you did
was make me feel worthless.
Now my tattoos symbolize my curses.
I hear my old name,but that’s no longer me.
Now I’ve become selfish and overcome by greed.
If I want it, then its mine in hand.
Just one hit.
Now your wish is my command.

Entry #1308
Not Enough Fingers
        So I'm sure you guys have already heard about me. Yeah, I only lasted a hour at my last placement. So what? It's my life isn't it? Why can't I just do what I want? You know what? I'm going to just do me. That's what I thought until probation came along......
    All I ever wanted was probation to just leave me alone and let me ruin my life. I am addicted to so many things. Drugs, girls, money, and trouble. I thought I was the king of the world. But it's all just screwing me over and I always end up back in juvenile hall. I am just starting to realize that this isn't the life for me. I need to do something different, make a change in my life. But how? I'll tell you how, I am going to stay at my next placement and just ride it out. I have to. For my father. I don't think he has much time left, but I can't think negative I have to think positive about this situation.
  You wouldn't believe how many people are disappointed in me and I just didn't give a flying ****. I'm selfish, I think. A counselor here was talking to me and it got pretty deep. Lemme sum this up for you, I must not care about my dad if I just keep violating probation and running from my placements. If I did, I wouldn't be doing any of this. I've been doing a lot of thinking and I can't even count on my fingers how many times I said I was going to do good and didn't.
  I can tell you right now, letting me out right now probably isn't going to be the smartest idea. All I want to do is get high and numb the pain. But my probation officer told me I'm going to be placed far, far away. I can promise you, there isn't a single thing on this planet that is going to keep me away from my family. My family is my family and that is never going to change.

Entry #1309
Day and night as I sit in my cell looking at the brick white walls with pictures of my wife and kids brings me to reality, like why do I have to be a **** up and put my loved ones through this. They don't deserve to see me behind bars for the lifestyle I choose to live. I regret everything I put them through. I should've listened to my girl when she would tell me to go to probation, but I would sit there in her face and lie to her saying I didn't have to go, but in reality my P.O. was expecting me to show up. I never did. I was lost in my own little world thinking they would never catch up to me, but I was wrong. They caught up to me months later and now I tell my girl daily that I'm sorry for putting her and our kids through this when I could of been out with them and focusing on doing the right thing, going down the right path.  

Entry #1310
No Struggle Is Too Big
There is no reason we should be destroyed by our struggles,
But we always freak out when the bad thoughts build up like mud puddles.
No struggle is too big, and no person is too small,
To come back up, and stop the fall.
Prove to yourself and show them all,
You can do better, if you drop the weight.
You can become light as a feather, and float to the top,
Keep doing what you have to do, and don’t ever stop.

Entry #1311
Something I Would Like To Do
        Something I would like to do, but I am not sure I can do, is to have a son and be a great father.The things I would like to do in order to feel that I'm a great father is to get my son all the toys and things he could possibly want. I would also want to buy us matching clothes and shoes, and have the same hair-style. My son should be able to grow up and know who his father is and also be able to say I did a great job raising him and he hopes he could do as good a job as I did. That is what I would like to do. The reasons I am not so sure I can do it are; I'm surely not close to being financially stable enough for myself, so I feel I'm not in the financial position to provide for a child. Also, I don't feel that  I'm physically capable at the moment to properly care for and provide for a child. My priorities were not straight before I came in here nor were my choices, so I would like to get on track and be in a financial and physically stable place in life before I attempt to fulfill the position of being a great father.  

Entry #1312
Most Days
If you really knew me, you would know I often care about others more than myself.
If you really knew me, you would know that I occasionally prefer animals over people.
If you really knew me, you would know that I hate to be alone.
If you really knew me, you would know that I have an addiction
You would know, sometimes my addiction can define me.
You would know, some days I love my addiction and everything that comes with it.
You would know, other days I hate it more than anything.
If you really knew me, you would know some days I'm not ready for rehab.
If you really knew me, you would know most days I'm beyond ready.

Entry #1313
Once Again
I've been in here for about a week because I relapsed on tweak
I have about two weeks left
But I won't ever let my mistakes define me as weak
I've been through hell and back and still strive for success
I always do my best so I don't go out like the rest that never stopped doing Meth
The angel on my shoulder tells me “Don't get high”
Then the devil on my shoulder
Says “**** this and twist that pipe!”
My parents want to see me do good
But here I am running the streets like a hoodlum, actin dumb
Once again in juvenile hall watching the days go by
Wishing I never got high
That's how we learn though
We learn from our mistakes and hope we don't make the same mistake twice
If only I took my own advice I probably wouldn't be living this life

Entry #1314
To Win the War
My head’s in the clouds
Addiction screaming loud
Hoping for the best, expecting the worst
Striving for success, but my life is a mess
Blessed with a curse that just makes my life worse
I looked in the mirror and didn't know who was there
I ask myself "why?"
But the monster tells me everything's fine
Making the same mistakes
For God’s sake, when will I change?
Rehab it is, I guess that's why they say it is what it is
I hope this time the angel on my shoulder wins

Entry #1315
Would Love To
Something I think about a lot is something I would love to do, but I’m not sure I can’t. Well, I’m most positive I can’t. I would love to bring the lost ones back to life, restore someone back to life, or go back in time to prevent it from happening. Based on my religion, only GOD can do that so I know I wouldn’t be able to, but I always wanted to do that. I know things happen for a reason, and GOD works through us all for the best reason. Sometimes I wish I could bring them back, but I couldn’t go against GOD and what his plans are.  I don’t have the power to do things like He can, but I would love to bring them back to have one last good memory with them or restore that good memory to someone who lost somebody.

Entry #1316
The father who is a thought
Only a glimpse of memory
From youth of a bastard
To a man of regrets
The presence of unknown
Nights filled with hate and neglect
Until the forgiveness is divine
Satisfaction for himself
Compassion will be there
Mother filled with love
Towards the ones called her own
Advice from the past
To the future that will know
Acting as two with relentlessness
No thoughts of disparity
Hope filled with clarity

Entry #1317
        The first and only time I truly caught feelings was when I was twelve. It was my one year anniversary with my boyfriend and he had written me a five page letter. Then as I was speaking to my mom about him, I then realized that I had strong feelings for him. We ended up together for five years.

Entry# 1318
The Better I See
The darker it gets the better I see,
My world may be dark but at least I’m free,
See, not all pain, more or less my mental strain,
Look in at the world for what I can gain,
Hopin’ to God I don’t get played,
People see my hurt I wore like a stain,
Lookin’ for hope, keep’n it plain
Like a chain binding me tight, 50 shades of grey I see,
No light, but I keep my urge to fight,
For all these years my flame burnt bright, but
But in reality it shed no light,
Stuck in the dark, it clings to me like a mark.

Entry  #1319
I am 15 years old . This is my 3rd time being here because I've made horrible decisions and I know I've said the last two times I was going to do what I need to  stay out of this place and get off probation but it seems to be very hard!
This time around I need to do it because my girl needs me and so does my baby! I want to be there when my baby's born. I don't want to have to watch  my back because I'm running. I want to be able to do right in every way because my girl and our baby don’t deserve that. My girl deserves a wonderful young man that can take care of her, and my baby deserves a wonderful dad in every way. I honestly feel horrible about what has happened.
I will try to do my best to do my schooling and to stay clean. I want to stay out of the hall and do right. I want my family, my girl, my baby and to have a home and to be taken care of. I want to work and have some kind of schooling to be able to support them. I also want to get off of probation!