To You From Me (Your Dad)

By BG

As I proceed to succeed
Relieved from all this grief
What’s needed is for freedom to ring
Continue as you are
My shining star
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Sometimes I Cry

By AH

My daughter’s smile weighs heavy on my heart
So heavy that I’m sitting here crying in the dark
Repeatedly telling myself, “Twon, you should have tried harder”
“Twon, you should have been a better father”
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Ma’ziyah

By MP

Ever since you’ve been in my life
It hasn’t been a day or hour you haven’t been on my mind
And I get an unexplainable feeling
Lovin’ you and knowin’ you all mine
At only 8 months now, your smile and laugh alone
Makes my life just shine
And for anyone to say you isn’t
One of the most beautiful babies that they ever saw
They will be lying    Read More

For You

By GB

G, you’re the greatest thing that’s happened to me
And I will do my best to never let you down
My plan is to give you the world
I always want you smiling
I can’t be there now
But best believe I want to
So when I am there…
I guarantee there’s nothing we won’t do

You may be only a baby now; I don’t care
I want to bathe you, play with you, feed you, dress you
And all day hold you in my arms
As long as I live, it doesn’t matter how old you get…
You are my baby boy, my first son
And because of that I will protect you from all harms

You want me at your basketball game, your school play?
I’ll be there…I won’t miss a score or a line, and I promise you that
Even if you’re only on the bench the whole game
Even if you only got one line
Imma still be proud of you
And I’ll be in the stands
With a “my son is the best” hat

You having trouble with your homework? I’ll be there to help
And I’ll have your mom there to help me
I’m going to push you to strive for excellence
With your mother’s brilliance and my potential
There’s nothing you can’t do
So son, everything I said, I meant it
Every word I said is true
I love you son, so son I’m here any time
And there is nothing I won’t do…
For You

On the Same Page: Coping with a Parent in Prison

Free Minds frequently holds “On the Same Page” events, in which members who have completed their sentences and returned to society – our Poet Ambassadors – share their writing and their stories of personal growth and positive change with the community to prevent violence and demonstrate the power of reading and writing to transcend challenges.

Last week, we held a particularly powerful On the Same Page event with middle school students from Chesapeake, Virginia. We end each On the Same Page with a Toast for Change, during which everyone present shares some way they hope to grow as a result of what we learned together that day. During the Toast, a courageous 13-year-old young woman named KW shared openly for the first time that her own father is incarcerated. Poet Ambassador LaTrae spoke with her after about his own experience and struggle coping with his father being imprisoned, and he shared the feelings of shame and secrecy that touch so many families impacted by incarceration. It served as a powerful example of the connection that comes from sharing ourselves and our stories.

Since the event, KW has written a number of poems to explore her feelings. We are posting them here to share and celebrate her strong voice and to continue creating space for all those touched by incarceration to share their stories, connect, and grow together. Thank you, KW, for your strength, your courage, and your willingness to share!

Through My Eyes
– Through my eyes there was a man
– Known as my Father
– Through my eyes he was the best person in the world
– But that opinion took a big curve
– He made bad decisions
– Thats always how it goes
– He hung out with the wrong people
– Their names still stay unknown
– Through my eyes he deserves to stay in prison
– And i have better wisdom
– To not follow his footsteps
– Because i have eyes that show me
– The best life i could have
– Without a father i love
– The way he tells me he does
Why Put Me Through This?
– I struggle with the pain and suffering everyday
– It hurt so much I ran away
– The letters you send drive me crazy
– Trying not to think of your voice inside my head
– I think of the day I came and saw you
– A barbed wire place I felt I was locked up to
– You came out to the visitors room
– In that tan ugly jumpsuit
– Why put me through this?
– When you know your little girl wants a daddy too
Years Go By Without You
– Daddy this poem is for you
– I know you wont hear it but I will send it to the prison
– Hang it up on your wall
– And the pictures I send of me growing big and tall
– As the years go by without you
I Love You, I Love You Not
– I love you
– Or do i not
– You tell me
– By saying you bought all that stuff
– when you really stole and lied
– That really broke my heart
– Saying you love me or is that a lie to
– You tell me because……
– I love you
– And i think you love me not
Searching
– You were there for me
– Thick and thin
– My mother showed me love
– While my father didn’t mean it
– But he made me the greatest person to be
– I show respect for my family
– My step dad is my new father
– Without him i didn’t know how life would be
– Without a father in need
Free Minds
– you’re thinking about this
– you’re thinking about that
– just close your eyes
– take a deep breath
– and you can free your mind
– with just two easy steps