New Writing from our Journaling Project, Norfolk City Jail

Years ago, as co-director of The Muse Writers Center, I asked Mira Roberts (then Boykin) to add her Journaling class to our rapidly expanding schedule. Inspiring, empowering, and a kickstarter to creativity, Mira’s workshop has enhanced our roster for many sessions. The responses we got from her writers were uniformly glowing. When we were looking to expand Seven Cities Writers Projects projects further in the Norfolk City Jail, the answer was clear: MIRA. This is exactly what we envisioned when we started in 2014 — bringing the affirming, liberating, and mind-bending workshops that the Muse has offered for more than a decade to people who don’t have access to such riches. Because here at 7CWP, we believe every voice deserves to be heard, and we are all better for it. Consider supporting us on Giving Tuesday, November 28th, but meanwhile, READ ON:


I will help you with your grades,

And help you stay awake. Give

you all the energy you need, to

ace that final test.


I will make you feel confident,

courageous and free. Free to be

the outgoing spirit that everybody needs.


I will change you into a self-

righteous, egotistical freak. I

will take you places that you’ve

never even dreamed.


I’ll make you give up everything,

and everyone who ever cared. I’ll

take you far away from anyone.

I’ll lead you to your end.


I’ll make you go crazy. Take

you away from all your friends.

Let’s not stop now, the fun

never ends.


We can sit in the treetops

chasing things that are not there,

but just one more look, and see

they’re every-freaking-where.


I’ll make you lose yourself, but

the “new you” is so much better.

Who really cares anyway, we

can go everywhere together.


You thought you looked so good, but

now your looks are fading. You

used to love who you were, but

now that really scares you.


So if you decide you want to stop,

go ahead and then you’ll see. That

once you start I’ll be your end.

There’s no life without me.


I’ll consume your every thought.

I’ll engulf your every dream.

You’ll lose yourself without. I’m

all you’ll ever need.


Wake up, wake up, little sister, ’cause

in the end you’ll see. You had a life

before me, but in the end, there’s only me.


Shannon Lee



One is a spiritual inspiration, leaning on The Way and The Truth, walking on what she believes. The other is witty beyond comprehension, capable of reviving my spirit effortlessly, but always with only the best intentions.

One left me early in life and I still can feel that emotional sear ripping into my heart. She just left one day, and I was forever changed. The other took me under her wing of strength, helping to wane my insecurities with her presence, knowing I needed her.

One has a laugh that will tickle my heart with joy, like an oil of gladness to my complex nature. The other confidently steps up to any challenge, tenaciously dedicated to those whom she loves.

One led the three of us with consistency, sincerity and strength. The other has undeniable wisdom that catapults her through life’s demands; she can outsmart any challenge.

One has the bluest of blue eyes, with a beauty that seeps from her core, exemplifying a woman of substance and grace. The other has the most breathtaking smile that I can feel deep inside my soul when I see her in my mind.

One has extended an olive branch so lovingly when I was in profound emotional need. May she one day know what it meant to my fragile, recovering psyche. The other has chosen to love me from afar, encircling my soul, mending it daily. May she one day know the inspiration she gives me to strive to achieve all that is honorable in me.

One permeates my spirit with encouragement. The other saturates my soul with admonition.

May the one find solace in knowing I am renewed, transformed and ever-thankful. May the other realize the depth of my gratitude, giving me a desire to see her smile at me again one day.

Inspiration. Motivation. Dedication. Love surpassing adequate words.

My two sisters carry my heart in their hands. Acceptance. Benevolence. Goodness. Merciful. Forever sisters, bound in the intangible heart strings.

Teresa and Joanne. May my reunion with these two powerful role models come soon so I will be able to see them smile a me, because my life choices honor them for who they are to me.

Susan Vanderwerff



Forgiveness is far from me

This action inconceivable to see

Gazing at the sea’s horizon

Flooded with emotions as my temperature is rising

Wondering, where is the girl I once used to be?

Is she like a ship lost at sea?

Drifting into a part of her heart

It is cold, bitter and tart

I thought I was smart

All these demons at play

But I guess this is the price I pay

For it’s the cost of being lost

As my sanity floats away


Sarah Berheim

7CWP BC Fill in the blank Front

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