Writing Exchange 2006-2015

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Lassen, Shasta, 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.

2015 Exchanges: January 28; February 25; March 25; April 29; May 27; June 30; July 29; August 26; September 30, October 28; November 18; December 16

2016 Exchanges: January 27; February 24; March 30; April 27 May 25

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Entry #952
Face Down
My thoughts scream and curse at me, “Give up, try harder, do it again.”
Sometimes my thoughts wander. I'm not scared to die.
Purpose has been robbed from me, without it, time just seems to go by not remembering the reason I hurt.
I am the robber, robbing myself of dignity, happiness and purpose.
Harmed with a pipe, my feelings are like the clouds I blow: mad, cold and lonely.
If I were to die today, it's me that would have taken my own life, not a shootout, car crash or being unaware of my whereabouts. I'm armed with a light to put under the crank pipe.
Just enough to break a girl down, and have depression laugh in her face.
The light at the end of the tunnel is just a myth, when you end up face down wishing it all would end.
I'm not afraid to die.

Entry #953
Most Nights
I watched my dad get gunned down on Super Bowl Sunday. The situation sounds as messed up as it is. I was inches away from my dad when it went down. That night haunts me. Most nights I can’t sleep well. I think about how I’m the one who could’ve prevented it, who should’ve prevented it.
                I know I shouldn’t feel guilty or feel like it was my fault because I answered the door, but still I believe none of it would’ve happened if I was just smart enough to know what was about to go down. Maybe it was just that I did not think someone could be so evil and do such a thing. I should have known this world is full of nothing but evil.
                Someday I hope to be able to forgive what happened. I can’t keep holding all of this regret and devastation inside because it’s only making it harder for me to move on in life like my dad would want me to do.

Entry #954
My Card Game
Life itself is like a game a cards, some people are dealt a shitty hand but how they play that hand is the only thing that matters. Yet others have better hands than most but they can still lose their game. I was dealt one of the shitty hands. I grew up in a violent environment and having to fight and argue just to get a meal. Mom and Pop were drug lords, always making bank and blowing fat ass clouds in the house. Mom let the dope game get the best of her. Walked out when I was only two years old. Fifteen years later she still hasn't come home. Hell, I don't even know what her eye color is, but yet again a part of me still has hope that she'll walk through the door and give me and my little sister one last hug before my card game ends.

Entry #955
The Desperate Search for Love & Myself
                Trying to find love was like trying to find my purpose in life.  A teenage girl just wanting someone to hold her at night. Hard to do, almost impossible, considering for the past three years my life has been in and out of these system walls. I gave my all to a coward in disguise. One whom I thought I loved. Turned around and in return I was faced with four white walls. City to city and state to state, nothing in my mindset had changed.
                Illinois made my problems worse. Coming home from a long night away from home. Tore up from the floor up. Only to find my father passed out and the smell of whiskey. Lil brothers high as a kite and out passed midnight. Where did I go wrong? That was all I could think. Almost a year of straight chaos. One night Dad got too drunk. Pressed play and resumed the continuous hell in the house. Left my little brother unconscious on the hardwood floor. Red and blue flashing bright under the street light. Not much left to say. My aunt came and saved the day. Took us in for four days. Probation called me in, faced me with questions I had no valid answers to. With Dad needing help and Momma dead, foster care is where we went: my brother and I and the shirts on our backs.
                A few days later, my grandparents stepped in. California, flying back. Turned my life upside down. Food, shelter, support and love is what was offered, something I’ve never had. Fighting the structure, I found myself on probation for a second time. Fell in love for real. Once again I gave him my all. In return, he gave it back and then some. Best kiss I’ve ever had.
                Soon after, I met a girl who turned my life upside down again. Missed calls from my ex, he knew I was trying to move on. Swore I’d never hurt him and now I’m crying on my knees, begging God to forgive me for my sins. Still, I found myself alone and trying not to scream. Lost in my own world trying to find what’s best. Only ended up in a big old mess.                
                Now, I’m back in between my four white walls. This time I’m ready to change. Six months is what I got, 180 days and a slow clock. Getting closer to my family is pulling me through. And all the mistakes I’ve made. Going to school is in my future. But February 7th is the real test. Going outside and avoiding all the tweakers at play, the P’s on the streets and my own mind battling me to turn back to the old me.
                Instead, I’ll think about my past and what harm I’ve done. That’ll be enough for me. I'll sip my tea and enjoy my day and let all the pain wash away.

Entry #956
The Monster
I’ve been kidnapped from my family,
At the age of 14,
By the glass pipe and some needles.

I tried to escape once,
But the monsters found me again.

No love for my family
No love for myself
Only thing that I loved was a baggie full of dope.

Mommy and Daddy’s little girl,
Gone once again.
As the monster stole my soul.
Thought they’d never hear from me.
Although they always looked for me,
In the streets and on the news.
Mom and Dad always locked their doors,
So that evil monster couldn’t get in.

A trip to the hospital,
A trip to the ward,
Now a trip to the hall,
Where the evil monster escaped.

I know he’s on the other side of this wall,
But please don’t let him kidnap me again!

Finally, I’ve escaped once more.
The monster gave me back my soul.
Mom! Dad! I’m finally back.
I might be locked up,
But in six months I’ll be back!

The monster won’t be able to take me again.
No love for the monster,
Only love for my family.
So long evil monster,
I’ll never listen to you again!

Entry #957
The Death Of Me
Screaming, crying, and running
The actions I take to keep myself safe
Sometimes those actions are never enough
With sorrow like someone’s stabbing my heart.

Feeling like I'm nothing and not worth a dime
Isolation brings me to desperation
Needing a way out and not knowing where to find it
The scars and bruises tempting me to look further…

I could never run away from the terror
Endless nights of nightmares and flashbacks
The screaming, accusations, and threats
All turn into something ugly and horrific.
These actions turned me into a different, depressed person.

Missing who I used to be,
The reminders cover my body and mind
The scars over my heart, sealed together with stitches.
You....... You were the death of..... Me.

Entry #958
Start Over
What makes me want to give up is knowing that I am never going to succeed in life, knowing that when I get older I’m going to grow to be a flunk and that my kids are going to be the same. That’s what makes me want to give up. If I could start over I would go back to the day I moved in with my mom and move right back out so I could do my best like I was doing before she came back to in my life. Most of the bad choices that I have made would never have happened. 
I would die for my grandmother because I know that if it came down to it she would do the same for me as I would her.

Entry #959
On My Own
I remember my mom never being there when I woke up in the morning
I remember when I was on my own
I remember going from house to house not having a home
I remember being cold at night not having a place to go
I remember being kicked out of my mom’s house at 11 years old
I remember telling myself “I wish I were normal “
I remember not cleaning the house so my mom’s boyfriend would hit me
I remember flipping my shirt inside out because I had no clean clothes
I remember not going to school because I had bruises and welts on my face
I remember not having electricity for about 2 and a half years
I remember panhandling so I could get something to eat
I remember my first day in foster care
I remember being in a strangers house
I remember running away because I felt like nobody cared
I remember getting suspended for the first time
I remember being expelled for the third time
I remember my first fight
I remember getting caught stealing from stores
I remember stealing bikes so I could get around
I remember getting my first tattoo
I remember being booked into juvenile hall for the first time

Entry #960
The only love I retain
Is that which was cast upon me at birth
Old love inherited
Not that that diminishes its worth
But I feel I don’t deserve it
It comes only from blood
To think in 18 years
I’ve gained nobody’s love

Entry #961
To Survive
I think that money has a great effect on everyone’s life. Everyone needs money to survive in this life. You can’t survive long in the real world without some money. I was born in a family that was poor. I think that is why some people turn to criminal behavior. In their childhood they didn’t have money, so they turned to the things that gave them the quick cash. I grew up moving around from family friend’s houses to motels to living on the streets for a little bit. My parents wanted to spend their money on drugs, alcohol and other things that they wanted. They were always high so they neglected us and didn’t care what we needed to survive. They just thought about themselves getting high.

Entry #962
My Steady Concentration on Being Real
I feel like the world wants me to give up. Life is so hard, so I've got to keep my head up.
I know in my heart that I'm like a soldier through this struggle. That is my life.  I look through
the haze for a brighter day.  I can't play when it comes to my success. Society looks at me like
a failure, but I know in my heart that I'm like an atlas for my salvation. My concentration must
be on the light. My life might feel like I'm walking through a desert storm, but I'm not the type
to give up.  I'm a king in my world and my strength can't be weakened for temptation.  My concentration is steady like a cheetah on its prey. I know in my heart that I consist of love and heart. The money, chasing drugs, and selfish deeds must be replaced with strength to show the world the real me.

Entry #963
Victim of the System
I have been incarcerated at Juvenile Hall for 3 months now and during my time being here I have learned a lot. My whole life growing up I used to think juvenile hall was for murderers and drug dealers, but really it's just to keep the kids that have been caught separated from the kids that have not been caught. As I wake up every morning, I can hear the white walls whispering in my ears; I can see the barbed wire fences smiling at me, tempting me to test it. I got two more months to go but that's just two more months of having people watching my every move. I'm going to be leaving this place soon and when I do I will no longer be a victim of the system.  

Entry #964
Money Struggle
Money has affected my life in many different ways. Especially because when I grew up, money was very scarce. My parents had to work long hours and many days for the little money that they earned, and still it was only enough to keep our family on our feet and not living in some cheap motel. Now I only live with one of my parents and the struggle for money has become even harder than before. The clothes me and my little brother have, we’ve had for a long time. Most of our clothing comes from yard sales; we would be lucky to get brand new clothes from stores. My family lives in a small town house in the suburbs. At the end of every month we have little to no food at all because we need to save all the money possible to pay the next month’s rent. Not having any money makes me feel like nothing I have is worth having at all. Money can’t make you happy, but it can help you with a lot of problems.

Entry #965
I am Dead
When I move along in this life I lead, I realize it more and more every day, one of my best friend's shot to death while I was less than one hundred yards away. Every day I feel the pain, it's like living life is just a game and you just wait for the day you lose. Just waiting for the day that the same thing that happened to him, happens to me.  Just waiting for the day my soul escapes my body looking down as I watch myself bleed. They wipe the blade clean... The sorrow that the thought of me will become. I'm just sitting here wondering if it will be by my own hand or by another man’s gun.  I am dead. RIP.

Entry #966
4 more months…the countdown begins.
T minus 120 days to go,
Free me fast, not slow.
When I look up the clock taunts me,
Those evil hands that tell time.
Those numbers that seem to take years to pass.
It's like a race between those two hands,
But I always lose.
I have been losing for six months,
Regardless, in the end I'll be a winner.

No more cell blocks!
No more evil clocks!
No more chunky glocks!
No more slangin rocks!
I'm done!

I'm a college boy drivin new toys,
I'm  j173810 with a fly Benz.
Now all I have to do is wait,
Time… I don't have time to waste.

That's something not so new.
Slanging is not a good talent?
Money in my pocket one thing in my sight.
That's tomorrow, will I live through the fight.
It's not normal to get shot or stabbed?
Then tell me what is normal, losing my dad?
Nope, nothing is normal when you look at life.
Wasted talent, no, I do what I do to survive.

Entry #967
My mom is a person I would give up my life for. If angels exists and may be spiritually present, then my mom is an angel that is physically present. An angel is someone that protects you and tries to look out for your wellbeing. My mom has done just that. She picked out a home in a good environment to raise me. The area has very low amounts of crime and virtually no bullies at school. She saves money all year just so she can have enough to buy presents for Christmas. She is selfless. She almost always makes decisions where she puts her family first.
Entry #968
Hard Lessons
What makes me want to die is my x-girl friend had a miscarriage and she blames it on me cause she says I stressed her out and I put her through so much. I honestly believe I did stress her out a lot and I did put her through so much that it is on my mind 24/7. It hurts me to know that and she was my everything but she told me you don't treat or put someone you love and care about through all the stress and the stuff I put her through. It also hurts me to know that she doesn't want to talk or see me in person. That makes me want to give up, but my uncle and my mom said if you love something or someone you never give up on them or that thing. If I was able to go back in time I would treat her like a queen and treat her how she was supposed to be treated. I wish that I could of realized everything I did and put her through was hurting so I could still have her in my life to this day, but she is gone and now I am locked up with too much time to think about her all day long. There is nothing I can do about it until I get out, but then it will probably be too late. She will probably be with someone else and she warned me and told me that I better act right and change for the better or I will see her with someone else doing the things she wanted to do with me. I miss her every day and I wish I could have one more chance to show and prove to her I love and care about her.  At the end of the day I lost something that meant the most to me. She was my everything; she had me waking up smiling and wanting to do good. When I lost her, everything went downhill and I gave up. I still hope and pray that when I get out she will be there waiting for me, but I know that is just a dream. 

Entry #969
All I Got
I would die for my family and that’ll never change.
Family’s all that I’ve got, I learned that at a young age,
Mom showed me love and pops was never around,
but I would still take a bullet to the chest for that clown.
My girl says she’s down,
I’m afraid because she knows all my weaknesses,
My kids think I’m superman,
I don’t even know what week it is,
The drugs messed me up,
I’ve been using since the 8th grade,
brains burnt up, I was high like a plane…
All I know is one thing,
I would die for my family and that’s a fact that’ll never change.
because family’s all the I got, I learned that at a young age.

Entry #970
Money and Habits
Money has been a big problem in my past. I didn’t grow up with much money, but I did have a loving family. When I was a little girl my money came from my beloved grandpa. My money went to toys, candy, and clothes. But as I got older and my grandpa slipped away from my life, my money soon had to be earned. I now live with my aunt, my sister, and my two little brothers. Now, I have to work for my money which means helping out around the house. For the past two years I’d spend my money on drugs, munchies, and alcohol. I soon learned from my mistakes. Now I turned away from my bad habits and spend money on my loved ones, school clothes, and sometimes even school events.

Entry #971
I think about how nice it would be if life had a restart button. I’m always hustling. I know it’s not too late to do right, but at night my past haunts me like a bad dream. When my eyes close I see triple beam schemes and murderous fiends that would kill for just one hit. They are so persistent; they just won’t quit. My eyes open and I see white brick. It’s a trip how quick you can go from a straight A student to a fast talking convict. I know I still got time. I will leave this life of crime. For my family I will change, forever ducking police, trying to keep them at a range. Stay cool and follow the rules. Better believe grandma didn’t raise no fool.

Entry #972
I remember when there was a stray dog wondering the area in my neighborhood. It was very cautious and scared to make contact with me. I tried getting the dog to trust me but it didn’t want to, probably because it was abused by some other person.
                I wanted to pet it one day and the dog kept avoiding me and I ran after it so the dog ran towards the freeway and went down the hill. The dog ran through the freeway with traffic going on and it ended up getting smashed by a diesel truck.
                The messed up thing is the cars didn’t stop for the dog. I feel bad about what happened.

Entry #973
Now I’m Here

Sitting in a cell locked door, feeling worthless and ready to give up.  Can I make bail?  Just wanting to get outta hell. Wanting a second chance on GPS…trying to tell people “I can be a success.” I want to be at home, sitting back, not alone, watching movies, doing me, not being out an about running from police. Caught with a baton, why the hell did I have to do wrong? Now I’m here, yellow shirt, blue shorts. Waiting for the 2nd so I can go to court.  Trying to send me to a placement. Man you might as well lock me in a basement. There ain’t no going back, I cut it off and bounced just like that.  No second thought and now I’m here wanting out of the pod. Praying to God.

Entry #974
Drenched in Sorrow        
                Dad was never around.  He would show up drunk and angry in the middle of the night, yelling and banging. I grew up a little bit and realized, he was drenched in his sorrow, too old to turn back. Drunk and alone, he would sometimes find his way home.

                Returning, my cell door screams at me as it lock me back in; here I am, back again, sitting and waiting for my time to begin. Some staff hear have played a major role in my life, teaching me respect and tough love. Where’s my father ?  No visits, no letters, sitting, hoping he’s okay.