As part of our Resolve to Stop the Violence Project’s “Restorative Justice Circle Keeper Training,” Dr. Jo Bauen conducted poetry writing workshops for the men in pod 7B at San Francisco’s County Jail #5 (San Bruno). Below is a sampling of what they wrote:
Shhh, don’t speak on me,
Weak points are strengths, some don’t see,
My strife makes me, me.
Can be transfiguration–
Journey to freedom
I want to know how it feels
To be free again.
My life’s salvation
Is through knowledge of self,
And now I am saved.
Results in condensation
I am the new guy
But I am willing to try.
If not I will die!
Love is a feeling.
Pain is love and love is pain.
Who am I to blame?
For playin’ this crucial game
She is my love bug.
Lazy in Mind
Has led to catching more time.
Change my mind or die.
Second chance is now.
I need to learn why and how
Thank you Father God.
My spiritual path
Goes from the Cross to Crescent
And is now Present.
In everyday life
Our beliefs often challenged
We’re on the defense.
It’s truly my own,
I’ve simply chosen: my path,
Meaning no offense.
Choose one for yourself,
And I trust you too will find
Your own peace of mind.
Has the ability
Of ending Enemies
Love is sharing space.
This work is so magical.
I love sharing space.
I am wonderful.
Certainly a man of God.
I am truly blessed.
My heart is so empty tell me what am I to feel
This pain is unbearable it becomes too hard for me to deal with
Locked in this cage isn’t where I ought to be isn’t where I’m supposed to be isn’t where I’m gonna be
I refuse to be a jailbird I refuse to wear that label
I refuse to be a statistic
I will no longer be simplistic
I will be achieve every challenge that has ever been set before me or die trying
I will prevail
They place me on a scale from 1-10 and I say I’ma 10
I strive to win
Lord please forgive me for what I have sinned
And if I should die before I wake I pray the lord my soul to take.
Have you ever heard
Two million caged birds singing?
They are here right now.
When you were born you caused my voice to hush
I held you and thought I couldn’t love anyone so much.
They told me you may hurt from the feel of my touch.
You were born opiate dependent, man that’s such
Brought on by your mom and your dad
Who couldn’t think enough to just drop the bag
To prevent the anguish that I know you had.
Seeing you tremble in the nursery always made me sad.
So I’d flee
To any temporary haven I could find
Just to pull out my drugs and escape my mind.
Cuz I felt like I failed for the hundredth time.
And consciously I knew you wouldn’t be mine
But my mothers’.
And that’s what I used to justify my deeds
As I continued to run in your time of need
Abandoning my first and only seed
All these feelings inside led me to proceed.
Massive doses of suicide
Self-sabotage angrily masking my feelings, I’d hide
Until a day came and right and wrong ceased to collide
Then I got up and walked out and put all my bullshit aside
I gained clarity.
And as my heart raced I know I must self-sacrifice
So you won’t grow up like me with no father in your life
I’ll be there to teach you to endure any strife
And I’ll stand by proud as you choose a lady as a wife
Knowing I broke away from what had me enslaved
Knowing you’ll be okay from the lessons I gave
And on the day that I’m buried I’ll be at peace in my grave
My last words will be etched up under my name
You’re my savior.
Every night she took the slaves away with sleeping spells
She still knew her faith-
We had a king with a dream that every one & everything would all be the same once we stood together
Now everybody went astray
How can we push Black Lives Matter
When we can do the same thing to each other as other people doing to us
So lets show our babies a change
Brothas of cola we are all the same.
Always left out so I feel no pain, my soul cries out for comfort but still no gain
Lost in this thing called life will I ever find my way
Through darkness looking for a flame
What you do off the court will affect what you do on the court
Who are you when no one is looking
I’m me can you say the same