The pieces of writing that follow are not the work of the Redlands Bulldog staff. Instead, we are visited this week by the voices of some of the young men and women incarcerated in San Bernardino Juvenile Hall. The pieces of writing featured here were first written longhand in the hall, then published in The Beat Within, a weekly magazine of writing and visual art by young Americans living in juvenile prisons.
Grown Up (Brooke, Vol 18.43/44 p10)
For me it was hard
Growing up so fast
Now I’m a mom
I hope growing up lasts
I need to open my eyes
I need to start thinking
Because every time I leave and say bye
I know that half the time it’s a lie
Then I feel like I failed her and begin weakening.
I love my baby girl so much
I hate when I mess up and have to go
Then I miss her sweet touch
I am mad because I say I won’t stoop so low
Then I do it again and there I go
One day hopefully soon
I will learn and become better for us
I will soon reach the moon
And feel love not lust.
My Very Special Girl (Nicholas, V20.15/16, p47)
My girl sticks with me through thick and thin. When I lose or win,
I love my girl so much.
She’s not my first, but I hope the last.
She’s always there no matter what, and when I’m low she lifts me up.
I love that girl and it’s not enough.
I Wonder (by De’Marcus, ibid, p46)
I wonder how my life would be if ain’t never been to jail.
I wonder how my life would be if I never hit the field.
I wonder how my life would be if I ain’t never hit the streets.
Wasting all this time in jail. Something I do not want for me.
Talk to my mom on the phone she said she see the best in me.
I can’t sleep I just want the best for me.
The Positive and Negative Inner Voice (Miles, ibid, 47)
We feel that there is an inner voice that speaks to us positively and negatively. In the past we have all had friends that wanted us to do bad things with them. But once a voice said that tonight was not the night and to walk away and go home to family.
The next day we found out our friends had got into a high-speed chase with the police. One was shot and the other got three years. That could have been us but we listened to the voices inside our heads.
As of right now we regret not listening to you this time around. Next time we will be more open minded.
I love you Mama (by Keyvon p 12)
I’m tired of this life that I’m living;
People shooting, killing, drug dealing, tired of the drama,
Tired of this feeling.
Hoping things will be calmer because all I want to do is succeed for
I just want to be a blessing in your life,
Take away the pain and the stressing in your life Mama.
I know it hurts to know you made a bad kid, that you played a bad kid,
But God is good and forgives.
I love you Mama,
I hope you know I ain’t mad.
I’m just forgetting about the past.
I’m just trying to make you glad, and would cry but I don’t know how.
Instead I got this feeling in my heart that goes ‘pow, pow, pow’
Jail Memories (by Alexander)
Summer memories… all I could think about is jail memories. Waking up in my cell, thinking about my family, begging them to let me out as I miss my whole summer in here and I’m missing my first day of school.
I haven’t been to regular High School, so it is always summer to me. So it doesn’t make a difference to me.
I wish I had a magic clover
to erase all the problems and let her know I love her.
I wish I could solve them and not be a runner.
Time goes too fast.
Next thing I know we’re old in a flash.
So if you love someone just let them know
Because once a star goes off it never glows.
So do it, don’t hope it gets better.
If I could see her dang right I would tell her.
So do I really need a magic clover
Or is it up to me to decide if it’s over.
The Government (by Aaron)
Why is everything so corrupt? Why is it about the money? Why is it that I see more money put into prisons than schools? Why is there still racism? Why can’t we go along and help one another out when falling down?
I’m a white male born in a nice city, what looks like a place where rich, old white people retire. My brother and I grew up with single mom who did the best she could do on SSI to raise us. I don’t see color as the problem, I see money. I am a very hard worker, but I worked in the wrong way to help my mom out. Plus, there are few jobs for kids anymore, so I couldn’t do it legally!
The way I see it, this world is run by income. The ones with low income are worth nothing to rich people, so the poor might as well be locked up. So when we fail to do what they want us to do, they make us look bad because, “actions speak louder than words.”
But does anyone take time to listen to the words before the action occurs?
The Streets (by Charles)
Turn on the light.
It’s dark in the streets.
Little sis crying.
Ain’t no food for her to eat.
I always learned the hard way.
In the streets you can’t cheat.
Hear me loud and clear.
When your boy gotta speak.
I’m looking through life.
I don’t even have to peek.
I’m focused on this money.
So I can’t even sleep.
I wrote this for the streets.
And I wrote this for the Beat.
Perception (by Eddie)
You call me naive because you think I am a child, but how could this be when I’ve lived a life you could never conceive. I fight the unending battle of lost dreams and no hope. Not many travel the road I’ve been and survive to tell the tale of the unholy suffering and loss.
You call me a fool because I believe in peace because just like Zapata and Chavez, I have a dream and like King I am willing to die for what I believe in to show the world the other side, which is always shadowed by perceptions and unfair stereotypes.
You call me a cholo, a nuisance to society, is it because of the way I speak or the way I handle myself? Could it have anything to do with the my being a first-generation Mexican-American or maybe you just judge me because of the mistakes of my childhood and the file you read.
A well-known saying says never judge a book by its cover because it’s the inside that matters. We’ve all been through so much at one time or another where we just feel like this is the end and you feel like throwing in the towel. There’s no mistaking that the easy way out is what so many do because they lack the strength to carry on.
It’s hard everywhere, but anything is possible. Whatever life brings us through the ups and downs, bumps in the road, we’ll be all right. “Dios cuida a los que crean en el” (God takes care of the ones who in him believe).
Society’s changing, time waits for no man. If you find something to believe in, one single ray of hope that’s all we need, one person to believe in us and one person to change what society thinks of us, and maybe that will change what they see when they see us.
I Got You (by Jeverion)
When I’m in your hood, I got you.
When someone is hitting you, I got you.
I’m your so I got you,
You’re mine like a tattoo.
You need some love? I got you.
A bad dare? I got you.
Nobody will hit you
But when it’s time to recover, I got you.
But that gun will get you,
I’m here for you to get you.
Nobody, not even your mom will tell you,
I got you.
Put it down, nephew
Pick up a ball
It’s got you
But in the war, the clutch, I got you.
Uncle will always get you.
The Dog Inside Me (by Gregory)
The dog inside me / is thinking about girl dogs. / The dog inside me / wants some alcohol./ The dog inside me / wants a steak, a bone. / The dog inside of me / wants hugs, pets, blown smoke in their ear. / The dog inside of me/ is in the house, warm, loved. / Asleep in my squinty circle bed.
Freedom (by My Freedom)
Freedom is wonderful.
Freedom is delicious.
Freedom is hamburgers at Sonic.
Freedom is peaceful.
Freedom is hot women.
Freedom is Mercedes.
Freedom is night time.
Freedom is candy cane.
Freedom is Jordan’s.
Freedom is the beach.
Freedom is a wild cat in the wilderness.
Freedom is happiness.