Please Forgive Me by Roosevelt Harrington

Some people in life may never get what I’m trying to say

But it’s ok

Long as I know

Babymoma playing games

Won’t let me see the kids

I ain’t mad at her though

It is what it is

Guess I’m down on my luck

Like four flat tires

The hurt in my face

See the water in my eyes

Dear Lord please forgive me

For the things that I done

Before Shaniqua passed

She gave birth to my son

11 months later

Jasmine had my other son

But right before him

We had to bury one

Rest in peace, Lay-Lay

You’re the reason why I breathe

Do right by your moma

I ain’t really trying to leave

What up Boss Man Cutty

I ain’t talk to you in years

Still shotti boys 4 life

Mr. Moo is right here

When you ain’t got nothing

Most people tend to leave

I’m die with my ship

I’m a different kinda breed

I’m a different Kinda G

I’m just coming from da heart

Admitting that I’m wrong

Ain’t that a good start

If I ever did ya wrong

I just asking please forgive me

Drinking on the liquor

Till the bottle get empty

Walking on the edge

Right now don’t tempt me

Have mercy on my soul

Dear Lord please forgive me

3 by Roosevelt Harrington


I’ll never settle

Guess that I’m not on ya level

I scoop you up like a shovel

Girl I can do better

You use to say that you love me

Tell me that this was forever

I got me together

cause lately I done fell apart

Who knew you fumble my heart?

Don’t know where to start

The cheating. Your ex was enough

The whole time I’m trying to build trust

So now it ain’t us

I’m so far gone I see dust

No water. No raft to save us

I never settle

Guess that I’m not on ya level

I see that I’m now not forever

I never settle

Guess that I’m not on ya level

So give back that ring with that bezzel

I never settle


I’m on the road

Lately been selling my soul

Not for the glitter and gold

Beauty behold

Hoping your love never fold

Yes I been outta control

Never gone go

Guess I’m stay till the end

Yes baby I am all in

Never pretend

Tell me where I can begin

Won’t you be more than a friend

Baby let’s ride

I’m always take your side

Promise the day that I die

we in Dubai

It can be you and just I

watching da stars in the sky

Never gone cry

I wipe away all your tears

Baby tell me all your fears

In this for years

Listen when you gotta talk

Yes you know that I’m all ears

My past is my past

If I go back I’m crash

Your love I just want it to last

Put me on blast

Bet I get down on one knee

Forever with me I’m ask

I’m hoping this love gonna last

(We forever girl) with a future that’s brighter than the past

What’s up


People can be so ungrateful in this world

All I had to give was 60 for my baby girl

On no, that wasn’t enough she told me crazy

She said call me back when you got 80

Why can’t you take the 60 now I got for our baby?

Guess that wasn’t enough but that’s all I had

No more to go with it that was my last

Some men don’t want to give at all

And here I am getting diss for not have enough, y’all

I was pissed like fuck that shit I’m going the extra mile

In the end I wrong for that she’s the mother of my child

A beautiful daughter I have yet to seen

Behind 20 more dollars that’s just crazy to me

I should of done more. I could of called my sister

or went and got the dough from one of my people’s

So next time when it comes to my baby

I’m make sure my babymother never say

call me back when you got 80

Two from Darryl Mosely AKA Frankey Needles

White Girl Next Door

The white girl

that live next door to me

I never see her parents

but I see the boy, her lover

he overpowers her, she’s always on the move

it seems everyone wants her

the police is always at her home

they never let them enter

my mom say she’s bad for me

do not be her friend, she’ll bring you down, she says

she always with the upper class guys

the street hustlers love her

rappers talk about her in their songs

she starts the party, she’s also the reason the party ends

I tried her once, I fell in love

but I had to end our love affair

she still around but she don’t live

next door to me anymore

last I heard the boy she was seeing

became a killer

I can say the white girl once live next door

and I too felt her powerful touch

A Ship’s Duty

Her keel connected to

her starboard side

as well as to her port side

which connects to her stern

which reaches all the way to her


all of her is on trial

with her history was made

but she too was enslaved

Two by Ann C. Evancik


I told you I want a receipt

Nowadays talk is cheap

How do you say you love me

when you put everything above me

Nothing but false hope

Numbing my feelings like dope

Thinking you are a huge mistake

I kept continuing to let you take

I Am

Right now I am in inmate

I am property of the state

Residing in a place I hate

I am told it’s never too late

This doesn’t have to be my fate

As I look forward to a release date

New Work from our Tupac Workshop, Norfolk City Jail

Thanks to everyone who supported this new project, our project donors and sponsor, Prince Books. Y’all made a pretty incredible thing happen. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I got more than I gave. Next up? African American Poetry Since 1945!


A TEACHER by Roosevelt Harrington

A teacher

One who teach and learn

and teach you things you never knew

A teacher

sometimes have they own problems

but yet finds time for you

A teacher

soft spoken, well educated, well dressed

expect great things, nothing less

A teacher

loves you and show they care

and always promise to be there

A teacher

lift your spirits up when you are down

give you what you need to get up off the ground

A teacher

has all the qualities as Lisa

and I am so glad that she was my teacher

A teacher


2Pac, the Rose that grew.

As I sat and read your poems my mind did 2.

Your poetry taught me things I couldn’t learn in school.

Takin on the 7 Cities class this summer was definitely a Plus.

To anyone trying to open their mind this class is a must.

Stay creative and with the process always trust.

And to our teacher I can’t thank you enough.

Yours Truly, D.J.M. SE7EN

SONG IN THE STREETS by Frankey Needles AKA Darryl Mosely

Blood hit the ground tear drop from his eye

He question God biggest question why

All his friends dead or in jail

And he still in the streets life passing him by

He can hear the sound of the crowd

As he lay on the ground soul reach for the sky

He told himself that he’ll stay clean

But his body hurt so bad that he had to get high

Didn’t think he’d ever O.D.

When it came to heroin known as the O.G.

And he always kept his ears to the streets

But he must’ve forgot ain’t no L.O.V.E.

He still had a pulse when the ambulance arrived

They gave him some narcan to make sure he survived

On his way to the hospital he finally opened his eyes

Looking up at the paramedic

Flashing a light in his face

The paramedic just smiled

And said today your lucky day

It’s not everyday someone make it back from the fentyn

I know you want to talk but right now just listen

You only got one life please treat it like you care

Even tho times get hard it seem it’s not fair

When that pain comes back you just got to take it

And from this day forward

Tell yourself you going make it.

Three from our Tupac Workshop

What’s Gangsta by Roosevelt Harrington

What’s gangsta

Is it when you see your enemy un aware

And open up fire in public in the middle of the day

Not caring who gets hurt in the meanwhile

Long as your target die

What’s gangsta

Coming to jail and try to run the TV and phone

When all the other inmates just wanna make it home

Stealing bags jumping folks trying to show your muscle

Dapping ya mans up screaming I love you

What’s gangsta

For real I can’t tell you if I tried

Cause what’s gangsta is staying alive

Busting guns don’t make you gangsta

Or selling narcotics

What’s gangsta

Is watching your kids graduate from college

Now that’s gangsta

Jungle City by Frankey Needles

I’m from the south side where tempers of young age

black males get heated

most of them only raised by their mother

and the father’s help is highly needed

before they reach the age of maturity

they own guns with no aim

die young and faces put on walls

with no frame

with a date of his birth and

a date of when he left this earth

nobody feels the pain of a mother

and trust me it hurts

in the concrete jungle where spirits run wild

I suggest we get rid of the guns

before we lose another soul

I heard it through the wire

control your temper

because were I’m from

on the south side there isn’t any gun control.

Big City by Frankey Needles

fourteen floors high I look out my

project windows to see a city

perfect to me I must say, they say beauty

is in the eye of the beholder

to hold her one day would be sweet

as sugar and honey in tea to cover her with me

just to let her know she’s loved

with so many war wounds on her buildings

that keep the loving and the wicked

apart a small distance apart

they say she never sleeps

to take a bite out of that apple

will be bitter sweet

why speak hard words

to a city that shifts night and day

if you can make it there you can

make it anywhere

bright lights loud sounds from

my inner thoughts like outside

looking up at graffiti total peace

benefits me

Writing Back to Tupac

This session, our Norfolk City Jail writers from the men’s block are writing in response to the poetry and song lyrics of Tupac Shakur. It’s been an incredible experience for everyone — myself most of all.

Tupac Shakur, “Brenda’s Got a Baby”

I hear Brenda’s got a baby
But, Brenda’s barely got a brain
A damn shame, the girl can hardly spell her name
(That’s not our problem, that’s up to Brenda’s family)
Well let me show ya how it affects the whole community
Now Brenda really never knew her moms and her dad was a
Junky, went in death to his arms, it’s sad ’cause I bet
Brenda doesn’t even know
Just ’cause your in the ghetto doesn’t mean you can’t grow
But oh, that’s a thought, my own revelation
Do whatever it takes to resist the temptation
Brenda got herself a boyfriend
Her boyfriend was her cousin, now let’s watch the joy end
She tried to hide her pregnancy, from her family
Who didn’t really care to see, or give a damn if she
Went out and had a church of kids
As long as when the check came they got first dibs
Now Brenda’s belly is gettin’ bigger
But no one seems to notice any change in her figure
She’s 12 years old and she’s having a baby
In love with the molester, who’s sexing her crazy
And yet she thinks that he’ll be with her forever
And dreams of a world with the two of them are together,
Whatever, he left her and she had the baby solo
She had it on the bathroom floor and didn’t know so
She didn’t know, what to throw away and what to keep
She wrapped the baby up and threw him in the trash heap
I guess she thought she’d get away, wouldn’t hear the cries
She didn’t realize
How much the little baby had her eyes
Now the baby’s in the trash heap bawling
Momma can’t help her, but it hurts to hear her calling
Brenda wants to run away
Momma say, you makin’ me lose pay
The social worker’s here everyday
Now Brenda’s gotta make her own way
Can’t go to her family, they won’t let her stay
No money no babysitter, she couldn’t keep a job
She tried to sell crack, but end up getting robbed
So now what’s next, there ain’t nothing left to sell
So she sees sex as a way of leaving hell
It’s paying the rent, so she really can’t complain
Prostitute, found slain, and Brenda’s her name, she’s got a baby

Mother Love, After Tupac Shakur, Brenda’s Got a Baby

by Frankey Needles

A boy name Tom was a ticking time bomb.

All because he never had a mom.

All he knew about his mom

is that she had him at the prom.

Left him in the rest room after he left her arms.

His mom really had it bad, thought she knew the father

but he didn’t want to be a dad.

All he wanted was a nut just like a squirrel —

knowing by having sex you can bring another into this world.

No one knew she was pregnant because she wasn’t showing.

They didn’t see her smile

and the way that she was glowing.

She didn’t tell her mom. Didn’t tell her dad.

Thought that if she did it’ll only make them mad,

so she kept it to herself til it was no more time left.

But when that time came there was no one there to help.

Thank God for a friend that was walking and

gave him to foster care. She thought she’d never see him again.

But on his tenth birthday, at his surprise

looking at his mother they had the same eyes.

Praying to God every night that he’ll bring him back

cause everyone needs a mother —

and that there’s a fact.

Two Poems by Roosevelt Harrington


All I hear is gunshots in my city

followed by mothers’ cries in my city

too many funerals everyday in my city

they 13 to 25 dying young in my city

police harass you in my city

also they selling drugs in my city

women get disrespected in my city

guess you can say ain’t no love in my city

I wanna change my city

into a peaceful city

make you wanna come and stay city

never rain but always sunny city

where the ol folks ain’t scared city

but at times I ask

who am I fooling about this city

cause we all know that this city

called Norfolk City aka shark city

ain’t nothing pretty about this city

so I just ask y’all to just pray with me

for my city


I haven’t always been the best dad

and at this very moment it’s getting to me

for years I was trapped in the system

not being there for my children

when I lay down at night I ask God to help me

become a better father now

see a dad help make a child

but a father take care of his child

I just wanna see my children smile

I wanna hear them say, I love you Pops

if I could turn back the hands of time

trust me I would quick, fast, and in a hurry

we all make mistakes in life

mines just cost me years away from my seeds

all I can do now is not make those mistakes again

that I made in the past

and become the father

that I was put on this Earth to be

Life by Frankey Needles

Life is what you make it

well shit

make it in life is what I’m trying to do

right now at this moment

I can’t find the words to describe

what I’m going through

to be doing time is to be adding time to my life

I know that to be true

because the habit I had

was not only killing me

but in some way it was killing you

something so small but so strong

had me feeling bullet proof

to feel at ease and to feel relieved

if I could only use two words these two would do

cause the truth was not only needed

but was ready to come out like my wisdom teeth

I used to joke — the addiction until the affliction

bring forth the attention

which caused me to be detained in detention

is this a poem or a prayer


cause life is what you make it and you can make it

if you pay (attention)

Letter 2 My Children by Roosevelt Harrington


Sorry for not being there for you,

when at times you needed me most.

I put myself before you, and I was wrong.

I ask for your forgiveness.


You walk, talk, and at times act like me.

I wanna say it’s my fault for all you are going thru.

I should have been there more, but I wasn’t.

I ask for your forgiveness.


Out of all your brothers and sisters I saw you born.

I was in tears as you came into this world.

You carry my last name. But I let you down as well.

I ask for your forgiveness.


My first beautiful daughter.

I should of done more, but I was in and outta jail.

It caused our relationship to go nowhere.

I ask for your forgiveness.


My second beautiful daughter.

We spent so much time together, and I love you.

I just need to do better and be there for you.

I ask for your forgiveness.


My third beautiful daughter.

I should of been more honest with your mother.

And maybe things would be better for us.

I love you.

I ask for your forgiveness.

My Baby Girl Alayia

Who’s in heaven.

I miss you so much, baby girl, for real.

I know you looking down on me sweetheart,


I ask for your forgiveness also.


My son. I owe you everything, son.

You was just only two months when your mother past away.

I gotta step up and be a better father. I love you.

I ask for your forgiveness.


My baby boy.

I love you, son, so much.

Even though you was 3 months when I got locked up,

you’re 2 now and I can’t wait to play with you.

I ask for your forgiveness.

To My Son or Daughter Who I Lost to Adoption

I’m coming to find you and bring you home one day.

I love you and miss you so much.

I ask for your forgiveness.

I love my children very much.

I just made some dumb decisions that hurt us.

I’ma make things right on everything.

I love all of ya’ll with all my heart.

This is my letter to my children.