New Writing from Norfolk City Jail Project


A single step
in a forward direction
is progress.
Yesterday’s men left behind.
There are endless possibilities.
Life is limitless, I understand now.
And that is progress.
Day by day, cell doors slam.
Sleep interrupted by police.
Yet I arise, unbothered,
and that is progress.
I look in the mirror. Adjusting my crown,
realizing this day too shall pass.
I will return to an ebony queen’s soft lips.
Awakening me, or four tiny pairs of hands
pushing and pulling for my love and attention.
I will not let incarceration define me.
I’m aware that this is a process.
And that is progress.

Joshua Mercado @_chikothebarber_

The day when I needed to stop what I was doing is as I sit here now writing this as a reminder to myself. I’d done hurt myself but most of all I hurt my kids the most. But only God knows my pain and my heart and how I really feel. I gotta get it right for my kids’ sake.

Dark N Loveless

If the shoe fits wear it, if it don’t apply let it fly. I’m not taking shots at nobody but I’m gonna give your heart and your soul something it can feel cause I’m not afraid to speak or say what’s on my mind. Life has a funny way of showing you things, The joy and happiness when the sun shines, the sorrow and pain when it rains. When your lucky charms at the end of the rainbow follow the yellow brick road ’cause the high way too fast, you gotta take it slow. But it’s the end of the day and the sadness hasn’t gone away. Greatness awaits and that’s a proud thing to say. ‘Cause God is not the type to leave you for too long. He’s always here to stay.

Dark N Loveless


What My Names Mean

1st name, Alexander. Strong, collected, mental and emotional probing. Alexander means an easy name to say and not to forget. My first name means dependable. Willingness. Always ready to learn and teach. Alexander is a 4th generation name. My grandfather, my dad, and now one of my twin sons carries this name. Over all my name means to pass on so the world won’t forget.

Speedy, a name given to me from my mom so I would guess she could distinguish from me and my dad. Or it could be the way I was fast to learn how to walk, talk, laugh. Or it could be that I was a fast runner. I really haven’t the slightest idea, but what I do know is that it stuck with me and people still call me Speedy to this day.

Lastly, Wolfgang, a name given to me by my uncle because I was young and grew hair more than all the other kids. My beard and moustache started growing around 13. At 16, I had more facial hair than my dad and most kids. So now everybody in my family and most of my friends still call me Wolfgang. My wife calls me both. So I gave my older son the name Speedy and one of my twin sons the name Wolfgang for the same reason that they were given to me. My name means to pass on.

Alex A-I

New Poetry from our Norfolk City Jail Project


I don’t know why the world is so cruel.

Maybe the government uses violence

as a tool. To eliminate our race. Our genes

and our traits. Violence tears apart families

and hunts us down like prey. The way

they treat us blacks from everyone else

is like night and day. I’m tired of living

in a generation where you can’t even

leave the house without wondering

if you’ll make it back alive. I’m tired

of living in a generation where through

our pain, suffering and misery other people

thrive. This is not a game. This is not a joke.

It’s time for us to get serious and be with

all the smoke. I’m from Norfolk. Shark City

is its alias. I’m from Norfolk where

all people are biased. Mothers burying

their sons way too soon. Their caskets

littered with tears. I’m from a generation

where young girls are having sex

just to be accepted by their peers.

Black on black murder seems to be

the new style. We kill ourselves

without hesitation and are put in front of

the jury for trial. We as a race are constantly

in denial. Could we be racist also?

We as a race think that if you don’t have

the same skin color, use vulgar language

and talk like us, or listen to the same genres

of music that they aren’t normal.

We also need to take responsibility

for what we do. We need to educate ourselves

and stop adding fuel to the fire.

Knowledge and success should be our

only desire. Why is there so much hate

in the world? Are our lives not more

valuable than diamonds and pearls?

Are our children not more important

than seeing who has the most girls?

We only have one life. Make the most of it.

Zachary D. Branch



Here I am sitting at the table,

all by myself.

My thoughts are scrambled.

Not sure how to begin my day.

As you can see

by the look of me:

my hair is straggly.

My lips are beginning to chap.

My eyes are growing dark.

I sure can’t eat a thing.

I’m tired and weary.

I can’t seem to set a foot outside.

What’s wrong with me?

How did this all begin?

My life’s a big jigsaw puzzle

shattered to a million pieces.

Not sure how to put it back

together again.

What do I do?

I guess I’ll just go back to bed again.

Laura Konnight


My Window

A window should be a place

where you can see beauty. A

place to see the trees sway in

the breeze. A place where you can

ease your mind. A peace of mind

that your kids are safe. But no.

Outside my window is nothing of beauty.

My window is bars upon bars.

Watching fellow criminals like

myself coming in, having their

lives stripped, and animal survival

mode set in. Nothing about my window

is pretty.

Danielle Hughes



photo credit: Mackinac Center

Fresh Work from Norfolk City Jail Project

Loyalty is Honesty

disguised as a smoked mirror

it is blood, it is vanity, it is life, it is a lie

loyalty is undeniably filthy

it is abandonment, it is loss, it is a price

loyalty is never what you think it will be

it is penance, it is a debt paid

loyalty is family


B. Fort



My Shadow


My shadow has a dark side

she can be dark

she can be weary

she can be cold

she can be hateful

but she can be loving

my shadow disturbs me

my shadow likes to tell me what to do

at times she scares me

at times she loves me

sometimes she is my twin

sometimes she is my opposite

I even named her Laureen

Laureen only likes me if I’m truly in

a bi-polar mood

that’s the only time that I see her

and hear her

I truly wish that it was just me in

my own shadow


Laura Konnight



The House I Grew Up In

The house I grew up in was like a farmhouse. There was a barn with two silos and a hayloft. We raised chickens in the barn. We had goats, geese, ducks, rabbits, a possum, and of course a dog and a few cats. We collected duck and chicken eggs and ate them after they went under the lamp so we knew they were good. There was also my favorite spot, the pear tree behind the barn.

The house was split in two: Mrs. Bacon and her older adult son lived on the smaller side. In my younger sisters’ room, in their closet, there was a board on the wall. One day, we came home from school and the Bacons were at work and our mom went somewhere so we went through the wall and felt we hit the jackpot by going to their refrigerator — yum yums! — and watching TV, something we couldn’t do at home. Then we noticed it became easier as Mrs. Bacon didn’t even lock her doors.

As the years went on it was great for me and Bobbie-Jo as Jeremiah always had pot laying around his room and change everywhere. I can remember playing hide and seek in the cornfield, playing in the soybean truck, and losing my sneakers — but laughing about it. Going three-wheeling, going walking in the woods, finding an old cabin, making hay forts in the barn, making trails in the woods for our bikes.

Growing up, I didn’t want to be a girl — I was a tomboy. Anything we played, I was a boy. We also always had plenty of chores. I mainly had to wheel the chopped wood, then throw it through the cellar window, and also stack it and collect kindling. No matter how cold it was. But it didn’t matter to me as long as I was by myself.

So actually, as long as I was away from the house I felt alive.

Laura Konnight

pear tree



They were planted in me

at first as seeds

then they grew into weeds

and soo began to grow and spread

when then they looks like vines

and got entangled with one another

as they started growing up the trellis

I decided to start plucking them

away one by one

so I thought

I just couldn’t understand

how they got so thick

with this yucky mucus substance

which I believed was poison

as I tried to get rid of these vines

I realized they were my roots


Laura Konnight




What is this that has me feeling so

trapped inside myself, where I can’t even

feel my heart beating like it should be

as though I’m drowning in water, which

then I realize it’s actually quicksand that

is choking me, like roots from a full

grown tree

then my heartbeat starts feeling as though

its rhythm is slowing down like a snail

creeping along a countryside road that’s as

long as a 10 mile run which seems to

never end

It’s got my mind so trapped like I’m a wild

animal locked in a small wire cage with

no way out, becoming so disturbed just

waiting to be an experiment for someone

to use me once again

will this trapped feeling ever come to

an end?


I am waiting with anticipation

to feel free from these traps I’ve

been in, so these roots that have been

choking me can finally be released.


Laura Konnight





I’m in the Bible.

I tread light, but precisely as my feelings and emotions

are beneath me. Quiet, but my mind thinks of

running and hiding. Provided nobody sees me,

Satan shall not have the power to defeat me.

Seeking to help me, but my heart is exposed — empty.

Environment is wildfire. The devil still tempts me.

Evil desire’s related wicked reminders.

Satan is soon to be retired.

Demons are liars invite their ways conspired —

suffering from surviving through an afflicted lifestyle.

My change is becoming a thousand miles

extracting my love, and draining my blood, tears from above.

Blood is said to be thicker than mud.

My heart sinks, and my faith strengthens.

My feet hurt, Satan stabbing at them with pitchforks

as I stomp on his turf. Satan, you were God’s friend first.

I know you listen. Truth hurts.

How does it feel living in fire, under God’s Earth?

Angels defeat demons. Death becomes a new dimension

curing the Earth from the damage caused by the sick and diminished.

Overcoming these evil intentions. And human faith is replenished.

God wins what he intended. Hell is finished.






First off, Momma, you are appreciated.

There is no denying that. A woman of

mighty strength. My heart’s attached.

Your love,

your spirit, your existence, your persistence.

You held down a difficult position.

Thank you for your constance.

When times were hard you never gave up by far.

When you smiled, you didn’t hesitate. I love you

so much. My heart for you would never break.

In some situations I may have acted the fool.

I just hope, Ma, on your heart I did not leave

a permanent bruise.

You’re a strong, mighty woman. When you were born

an angel was summoned. Your heart is big.

Your mind many wonders.

I remember being younger. Yes, I remember

good times in the summers. Laughs in

abundance. I remember you.

Through all my life you’re the one

who stayed true. Love you,

Momma. I appreciate you.




Even Though

Even though, even though

I’m incarcerated

Don’t tell me I cannot make it

I’m understanding hatred

In beautiful places

Even though, even though

While life is not basic

Simple maybe, but complicated

Hard to be situated

Concentrated on seeking patience

Even though, even though

Can you see judgement passing on judges’ faces

Specific implications

Intended for human races

The government should be interrogated

But are we obligated

Even though, even though

While time is moving fast

Making it rush to complete a certain task

Compare and contrast, shattered like broken glass

Time comes to grasp, including the past, so many secrets

This world is a mask

Even though, even though

What’s not noticed is unfocused

Memories become distant

Apologies seem hard

Forgiveness leaves scars

These are my regards




A Misty Situation: True.Event

Eleven years ago I was fourteen years old, living in Tampa, Florida. And so, I once knew someone who stole a woman’s purse. The identification inside related to a beautiful nurse. Her cellphone and photos are what I looked through first.

Loaded with naked photos, and posed in all positions, great swagger, a slender figure. So attentive.

The someone I once knew could do all but gloat while he counted one hundred fifty dollars from this woman’s tote. All of a sudden the idea came to mind to split the profit. I’m keeping the phone, but we’ll return what this woman owned.

Discovering her address, I arrived to her home. As I stepped to her door, a woman’s aroma greeted my sense of smell and my heartbeat arose. I began to froze as I hesitated my knock. I got no answer. So I began to walk away. But heard the door come slowly ajar. There stood the appealing nurse. I held her stolen purse. She wore this bright pink shirt that exposed her sexiness and facial features. The boxer shorts she wore showed me her thighs.

“I found your purse along a curb,” was what came to mind. “Oh, my god, you’re a lifesaver.”

“No problem. My name’s Devin.” I’m really thinking this woman is straight from Heaven.

“My name’s Misty,” she replies.

And Misty invited me inside. Free-spirited as I perceived her vibe. Misty was drinking some wine. Apparently furious that her purse was stolen, but relieved all at the same time. And we conversed for a while. She mentioned she was twenty-eight. I lied and said I was eighteen, in which she believed.

Remembering her photo was really nothing compared to her presence. The greeting of her natural essence. But I felt so sympathetic, with sex distracting my mind, I could not believe I’d indulged in this crime.

Being gentleman-like: “It’s getting late, Misty.”

But it was only eight, so she asked me to wait. And went upstairs. Coming back down I could only stare. Her face, her sexual impression. Resisting the urge to touch her. Her thighs were shy, her feet were cute. She handed me $100 in loot, with her number. Told me to call her.

So I left but felt infinite shame. Like a deep cut could have matched the same. So the someone I knew I blamed. I walked away trying to remember which way I came.


Fresh Work from the Norfolk City Jail Project


Why is it that when I walk

I like to hold my head down?

Shouldn’t I be holding

my head up to see

in front of me?

It’s as though I think

others will be able to see

right through my eyes

to my soul. It truly

scares me. I don’t want them

to see the real me, and how

down I truly am.

Laura Konnight



Sleepless Nights

lie still as the moon

lie still as a star

fall, rise, bolt…

be still


avoid the lightning bolt

still there’s ways to escape

lay back

be still as an owl


count the hours



be still

until the stillness

is no more!

Donnell Flowers



The Barber God

Who can stop me and my

creative tonsorial brilliance

a barber bull among matadors

I stand behind the throne

and mold you into your kingly character

with clippers as gold as a king’s crown

my shears put shame to a samurai’s weapon

confidence renewed

a master barber baptism

my fade, a blended artistic perfection

your haircut, a masterpiece, a two-legged portrait

carved with intricate precision

by a straight razor, handled

by a barbershop ninja, a skillful expression

of passion, my trimmer my vessel

to elevate your self-love




Crystal Lake

Met a chick name Crystal. She was cute to death,

but she’d had a man by the name of meth.

She gave me a warning:

I play mind games —

have you thinking unreality in your thoughts,

it be storming.

Shaking, paranoid, going out of control.

Then before you know it, you’re locked up

or 6 feet below.

All I’ll be doing is causing you problems.

I will make you feel on top, but in reality

your ass done hit rock bottom.

Because of me I’ll have you not looking the

same. Ever seen The Walking Dead? Compared

to me, that show is lame.

This is real life shit. I’ll shatter your dreams,

have you cheating on your spouse even

crossing your team.

So ask yourself, is she really worth fucking with?

I know it’s hard to resist. Go ahead and shoot

your shot, just know you’ll be walking the streets

with a death wish — CRYSTAL LAKE

Andre Holland



Drizzly New York

It’s calm B4 the storm. The weather

is nice outside. The sun is out.

The feeling is just right. The clouds

puffy white. Not a single stray

gray one in sight. I know the stars

will show tonight. It’s a beautiful day

to go have a picnic or go

to the park and watch the kids play.

She must be happy,

something sure did put her in

a good mood. Oh, I see she just met

a new dude. Yeah, he’s all up in her ear.

Days went to weeks to months. Before

you know it they’d been going on a year.

The forecast says we’re due

for some rain, but it never rains

in Southern California, so what

could be the blame? The pressure

not letting up, winds blowing

wild for this part of the game.

He wasn’t ready.

In those dark clouds he saw

lightning and heard the thunder.

Then God freaked out and said

he was done nine months later.

Mother Nature gave birth

to a bastard child.

Andre Holland


Pink Ribbon

You really hurt me

to my soul. How can I explain

the way I feel? You tore down

the walls I call white cells. Now

I suffer, lying here in this pit

called Hell. I asked God, why me?

I’d asked for something or

someone good, but I got

destruction and heartache

instead. I feel like a nail

in a single piece of wood,

all alone. A needle in my vein

draining my energy. Losing all

my essence.

Is this really the end of me?

I’m living my worst nightmare.

It’s not the stress that made me

lose my hair. I don’t know much more

that I can bear. I hate

when people stare. My loved ones

keep praying, Have faith, in God

is all, I hear them saying.

But my body just decaying.

I didn’t sign up for this.

I don’t like it. Only time

will tell. Keep hope alive,

so I’m gonna fight it.

We’re going to war. I’m on

the attack. So duck for cover.


I gave it all I got, but I lost

the battle, so it’s game over.

Just another dead soldier

and yes, hell on Earth — it gets colder.

Andre Holland


More Fresh Work from the Men’s Block

Dead Presidents

He awakes to the crackle of thunder that sounds

like a symphony of drums.

Outside, rain beats against his window while

the wind howls like a jackal in the night.

Quiet. Voices.

The boy can hear voices coming from downstairs.

Strange, yet familiar.

In an instant, he reaches under his bed for his pistol,

knowing the intruders are there for two things.

He heads downstairs shaking in anticipation.

The voices grow louder.

His arm stretched in front, the weapon now a part of him.

He turns the corner to see a dark figure sprinting at him

like a bat out of hell.

His eyes close. His finger jerks back the trigger, a reflex.

When his eyes open to an empty room and the strong odor

of gunpowder, he is in a type of daze.

When his ears stop ringing, the voices seem to be calling from

his room.

The safe. Caution goes to the way side and he runs back

upstairs. He can’t allow anyone to threaten his hard-earned

money. What he risked his life and freedom for.

Ultimately, the money he loves.

He bursts into his room only to find it completely empty.

However, the voices are so loud they buzz in his head

like a beehive.

The boy opens his closet door, drops to his knees,

enters a combination and his safe swings open

like a vault door. Inside, money is stacked like old,

dusty volumes of books in a home library.

Each bill telling its own tale: pain, betrayal, triumph.

The voices cease.

In that moment the boy realizes:

the language of the dead are driving him insane.

Jamell Kitt aka Majin Mello


Reminiscing Release

Explosion of passion, bursts

of energy, that all-too-familiar

surge of euphoria. Oh, how you

still call my name. I may never

get your hooks out of me entirely, but

the dominion you once held over me is

gone. Hindsight is 20/20, so when

I look back, it disgusts me

you ever got a moment of my time.

Reborn, renewed, reminded I am

co-existing with the universe not

against it. As time flows, so

does life as my spirit seeks

nourishment and it gets engulfed in

wisdom and love.

At home at last,

like daisies in the grass…

Camper McNeely


The blue sky holds clouds of many different

shapes and patterns.

The sky comes alive with clouds of your


Unimaginable thoughts run through your head.

Look around you, there’s nothing but sky.

When the mist comes, the sky remains through

the rain.

The color of darkness changes the sky,

but the sky remains the same.

There’s no structure or shape or size; sometimes

it can hurt one’s eyes.

The sky, the sky, what would I do to touch the sky

and say hi to all those who passed me by.

Donnell Flowers




Fresh Work from Norfolk City Jail Project/Men’s Block

Five By Insta@_chikothebarber_

The Proposal

The pinnacle of our romanticism,

me on one knee and you staring down.

Careful my love, not to drown

into my eyes like an abyss,

enchanting me with your masterful stare,

your hand I begin to kiss

Your love is honey, my purpose like a bee’s,

for you are my roots and I am your tree.

To dilute my love in a diamond,

forgive me please.

I trust in you, and you fell for me.

I vow to catch you like a trapeze.

Your heart is an oasis of extravagant richness.

I’ll bite into your fruit, no care if forbidden.

You’ve grown rich with age, like the finest of wine.

A corkscrew of love, our hearts intertwined.

Say yes to these words of intimacy.

A heavenly expression,

though they cut like a knife.

I’ll heal every wound, my wife for life.



You awaken my flesh.

From the moment you touched my lips —

An instant adrenaline rush.

An everlasting natural energy recycled into —

thunderous beauty, a buzz

of Colombian descent.

Defibrillator of my heart —

a finely dark roast becoming one with steam,

creating a joyous brew of espresso.

Awaken, Homo Sapien, and





Poetic Homicide

If words could kill you’d fall victim to this poem.

Allow me to please you, mercifully satisfy you.

One snap of my finger, your clothes fell like a

house of cards. The delightful sensation of unstrapping

your bra. I’ve grown to know every inch of your body.

like Beethoven, I fondle each Alicia…key…

Bringing quivers to your nude knees…

To my satisfaction, I undo my tie and blindfold you.

A moment of silence.

I bite into a piece of ice and run it down your spine.

I bring you to climax without sex.

Perfectly aligned.

The depths of the ocean would be jealous of my

drowning within you.

If the neighbors don’t know my name by now that’s fine.

Any moment, police will come knocking with accusations of

a crime.

By now you’ve screamed in every pitch and tone

and all the while, you fell victim to this poem.


The Kiss

Why am I so compelled to kiss you…

clothed in golden silks and jewels, there’s

no denying your godliness. Our embrace

is inevitable. I’m overwhelmed by the

softness of your touch. As above in the heavens,

so below in your presence, Alpha and Omega.

Your aroma reminiscent of honeysuckle.

I desire your nectar. I can’t fight temptation

any longer. I grasp you. I lose myself in the warmth

of your essence. My seductress. Feed my soul evermore. I

reach in to take what I’m longing for…


Fresh Poetry from Norfolk City Jail Project/Women’s Block


I don’t know when I decided I couldn’t decide

enough was enough, or when it was time to let

go, so I wouldn’t be dragged.

I don’t know when I decided you weren’t enough.

I don’t know when I decided I wasn’t enough.

I don’t know when I finally found

the fraud in me.

I don’t know when things will ever be just the

way they used to be before I found the real me.

I don’t know when I can ever come to peace

with being all alone again.

I don’t know when all the sorrys become

just that.

I don’t know when we can ever fix

what we had.

I don’t know when I’ll ever see you


I do know that I have lost my only friend

to the darkness of heroine.

Adriana Bidanset


Mom’s View

I loved you then and

I love you now. I watched you

grow from inside me ’til now.

You’ve done some good, but

also a lot of bad. You have me

scared, blue, frustrated and mad.

I don’t understand you or why

you took this route. I can’t

be around you, for you are

not right. You are weak-

minded and so we always fight.

I loved you then and I

love you now. But too many lies —

I can’t look at you at all.

I had to build these walls.

You don’t care, or if you do

I can’t tell. You wear your stripes

well, but for who if not for me.

I haven’t seen you in years,

and this is how it has to be.

I will always love you,

but I need to let you be.

I will always love you,

you are a little me.

Adriana Bidanset


Keep It

Just between

you and me,

he said.

That meant it was

a secret. I had

to keep it.

Edwina Randall


My Father’s Shadow

We awaken to the sound of the rooster’s bugle cry

Rise and shine, everyone, with blinds wide open

No time for being shy

A new day is dawning, but I’m already up

Lying in bed, waiting for his heavy footsteps. Hush up

Loud crack of the front door, for his morning paper he reaches

Peeking through the banister, is his tiny little leech

Come hell or troubled waters

Be them deep or shallow

It’s just me in my father’s shadow

Beds made, covers tucked tight

Clothes on, feet shod, shoes shined just right

Downstairs, lady baker in the mess hall, all is ready

Aroma of eggs, grits, biscuits. Sizzling bacon she flipped

it steady

Oh, Mama cries, tiny soldiers, hut one, hut two, hut

three, hut four. One is missing, let’s check beyond the door

Come hell or troubled waters

be them deep or shallow

It’s just me in my father’s shadow

Fall in line, young soldiers

Time for a list of your chores

Boys outside, girls inside

Field maneuvers a bore

Paint the fence, feed the dog, mow

the lawn, rack the grass

On the double, fellows — dishes, dishes,

dishes and take out the trash

Come hell or troubled waters

be them deep or shallow

It’s just me in my father’s shadow

Baby girl, are you ready

to leave the nest. I fought

your first battles. Now expect nothing less

Anxiety fills me up like an expanding

balloon inside my body

Successfully I brought up the rear,

fell back in line and didn’t dare to be snotty

Come hell or troubled waters

Be them deep or shallow

It’s just me in my father’s shadow

I left his darkened image, off to

wage war of my own

Only to find out he lost his battle

while I wasn’t home

The alarms went off, flat line, they

shut off the machine

My drill sergeant is gone, now on

who will I lean?

Twenty-three, twenty-two, 21 gun salute

He’s dressed, I’m dressed, fatigues and army green suit

Hands held high, out of deep respect at best

Green pastures and still waters

his shadow now rests

Once my bridge of troubled waters

be them deep or shallow

He lifts his tiny soldier

with dreams of walking

in his shadow

Valvoria “Me Me” Cross


I Don’t Know

I don’t know what tomorrow brings

I don’t know a lot of facts

I don’t know a lot about the world

Or how the negativity of the life I lived has impacted

What I do know is that I have a second chance at life

A chance to get it right

A chance to make amends

and to love with all my might

A chance to mature and grow

To let people know and to show

that I’m not the girl out there on the corner smoking

crack anymore

Because that life I no longer need

I’m stronger. I shall succeed

Because all my dreams I am determined to achieve

Shannon Parker


Should I reach for the stars

Should I share my voice with the world

Should I try to save everyone alive whether boy

or girl

Should I tell them about my life to let them

see we are the same

Should I tell them all of this so they won’t

feel ashamed

To lean on me so I can give them a

helping hand

So the little girls and boys don’t depend

on the life of a man

So be strong and know they are better

than their hurts

Maybe one day those same little boys and girls

could be the best leaders on this earth

Shannon Parker



At times I feel so empty, it’s as

though I’m lifeless

When did this empty feeling start and

where did it come from

It makes me feel as empty as a bird’s

nest, when all the babies fly away

Then my body feels so mare, as though all

my blood has drained from me

My mind is new like a vacant lot, and

as blank as a check, that’s how

empty I am feeling

Laura Knight



I ran to my room crying a puddle of tears. I don’t remember why. But I packed a brown paper bag full of clothes — didn’t even care which ones. I opened my window, climbed out onto the roof, threw the paper bag out onto the ground, then I climbed down the tree. Once I got to the ground and no one in sight, I ran for my life down our long driveway to my friend’s house I went. As I was doing this, it truly felt as though my whole family disappeared or vanished, as something I was hoping to do to myself.

Lara Knight



When I look in the mirror all

I see is failure, disaster, and

destruction all in one.

Why can’t my mirror be like

Cinderella’s? Instead mine

seems to shatter more and more each

time I relapse to where I’ve got

to put a puzzle together. I’d

like my mirror to be shiny and

clear instead of foggy and dark!

I do not want a fantasy mirror.

I want a true real life mirror

I can actually buy brand new and

look through with clear vision and

see better than failure, that’s for

sure. So today I will begin to

put this puzzled mirror back


Laura Knight



You have me hipped

words so equipped

your possession

all freedom stripped

I feel beset

intensely gripped

How I disrelish

your crassly fetish

you have me play

this torture game

you even think

that’s what I want

this domination

or even taunt

Your preoccupied

and troubled mind

has to appease

let up some ease

your mind’s enslaved

you are possessed

you have me captive

you are obsessed

Tahirah Dudley



I disassociate or disconnect

then separate to disengage

you take quiet time

when I unbid

make solitude

just seem so brewed

do you ever ponder

when I sunder

get detached

’cause I reject

would you elude

when I exude

what you call an attitude

is just mistaken

I’m simply crude

I disunite

not out of spite

or I dismember

oops! just disassembled



My plate is stacked

I’m overfed

my cup is full

but I’ve had too much

Now it’s over bad

I’ve been underweighed

It want all complete

but I’m over warned

don’t want to sink

I’m in a swamp

don’t want to drown

but I’m in a flood

I’m unsatisfied


it’s overdue


it’s undeserved

I want to wail

I’m gonna bail

now I’m overwhelmed


The End

I thought you and I

were so complete

in all actuality

you were done with me

the two of us are obsolete

there is no more

if there ever was

we became outworn

we’ve become extinct

I loved the finish

the beautiful ending

it was a train wreck

Tahirah Dudley








Grand Daddy

I sit on the porch at my Motherdear’s house looking through the screen door, watching my grandfather as he stares out the window looking into space. He holds his hand on his cane, cigarette in the other hand, violently shaking. Daydreaming dreams that are so fragile and that don’t last. He will awaken and poof, they are gone as days of long ago. He stirs and pulls himself up, slightly absent, helplessly into the remnants of smoke. SO, so deep in thought. The deep-seated pain in his wrinkled brow. Is he hurting? Pain from inside of the future to come and days that are long gone. Pain of not being able to tend to his fields. Row and rows of vegetables grow, yet he can’t harvest what yields. Memories of days long gone, of the vim and vitality he once had, of the place that’s fading away. Vision dull now, lost in the bellowing smoke rings and pearly-white streams that fill the room that has now grown dark. Dark as day turning into evening. And for a moment he closes his eyes, faded as he awaits his demise.

Valvoria “Me-me” Cross




Three by Sara Bernheim

Phenomenally Perfect

I find myself in a garden that is beautifully diverse. You see this garden is no ordinary garden…It is filled with royalty, compassion, ingenuity, brilliance, creativity, passion, empathy, unconditional love and most of all your individual uniqueness. We are a garden of phenomenal women shining light into the dark corners of the world. Not one of us is the same, nor capable of duplication, but carefully created into Divine Perfection!


Everywhere I go, love is in the air

Feel it in my soul, thought we were a pair

Everywhere I go, I see you face

The rejection I can’t seem to shake

Everywhere I do, reality seems surreal

Tell me what we felt was real

Everywhere I go, broken heart I drag

I’m ready to roll, packed my bags

Everywhere I go, despite all the pain

I’d still do it all over again

Everywhere I go, roads come to an end

A feather can’t dance without any wind


Trees Dance

to the wind’s melody

Clouds pass by with amazement

Traffic races to its own rhythm

Sun casts on my face oh

do I crave its eloquent presence of heat

Give grace

The world’s clock ticks like the speed of lightning

Days progress and pass too damn fast

I sit on the cold beige metal table

Everything is this god-awful color beige!

Life seems to have hit a pause button

As I stare out the window bars obstruct my view

The veil falls revealing what I once had misconstrued

Gazing with astonishment discovering the secret to life

is to know when enough is enough

only then will I have enough


Artwork by Sarah Bernheim

Fresh Writing from Norfolk City Jail Project/Men’s Block

Ocean’s Breeze

Growing up I’ve always been stuck in my neighborhood. So when I get to leave and go places it seems foreign to me. There’s a lot of drugs, crime, and all around negativity in my neighborhood. A place I loved to go as a kid and even now as an adult is the beach. Virginia Beach Oceanfront to be exact. To me, when I’m at the beach it feels as if I’m in a different world. Like I have no worries or any problems anymore. The beach to me is soothing, relaxing, peaceful, but most importantly a place for me to be able to sit and clear my mind. I love the feeling of the warm sand between my toes, the smell of the saltwater ocean, and the calming sounds of the waves crashing into the sand. It’s a very therapeutic experience to me. When I’m at the beach I sit on the warm sand, look up to the beautiful sky and down at the ocean water. It’s as if all the problems I had prior to me arriving there have gone away the moment I look at the ocean. I love to go to the beach at anytime, but I prefer to go at nighttime when the sun is setting and there’s not that many people around, so it’s quiet and it’s as if I can hear Mother Nature talking peaceful words to me. The beach puts my mind in a whole other place and the thought of it still to this day puts me in an awesome mood.

J. Cowell


I Don’t Know How I Got Here

Nor do I know which way to go.


Should I turn left or right, or should

I do what’s right, or go left where there’s

no one left?

I don’t know if I’m coming or going.

Troubled thoughts?

Mind wandering and this liquor is not

helping. It’s only altering my mental

state of mind.

Therefore I don’t know?

Sick and tired of being tired.

Breaking point.

Point blank, I’m tired!

I don’t know if I’m committed or not

for there’s a lot I must plot and think about.

Someone, please make these thoughts stop

before I wipe out.

I do know that I must come to terms

and identify who I am before I commit

the ultimate sin of suicide!

My name is depression.

Donnell Flowers


It Starts Off With Waves

crashing forth through the sand, peaceful-sounding waves. And cold water may caress my feet sending sensations through my veins. Hearing seagulls shooing through the wind. The air is salty smelling, but fresh. My future special environment does not hold a care in the world but relaxes me. This seems so surreal, but it is my future reality place. This place accepts you or anyone who comes and goes. Silence is special and warming to the ears and mind. My thoughts and ideas, concerns and emotions, even time flows fluently. It’s late evening, time is not a problem. My future vision and a place I desire out on a boat at a far surface away from land. Me, myself and I absorbing silence. I’m catching fish for dinner, but listening to my mind. My dream place of purity is meant for me or others to seek. I am determined to grasp true tranquility and become a friend of peace. A boat on the water. Nobody can see or hear my prayers and praise. I can scream to God who’s at the highest peak understanding and age can find me. Without words or cares of anyone else. Nobody to answer to. Me, myself, and I, Almighty God and the deep blue seas. The fish I eat. Accepting peaceful sleep. Can you relate to this special place to be?