New Work from Norfolk City Jail: Surrender Your Weapons


Contain yourself:

it’s an expression I often find

myself repeating

because of you.

Like the ocean I adore

just breathtaking in

every way.

Beyond the tides that are drawn

and constantly pushing me away

there’s also the tides that pull

me in real close,

never wanting to watch them

wash away.

Control, it’s what I have to do

when I discover I’m

submerged in you. Can I trust

your currents to keep me safe

when it begins to get deep?

I could float all day and night

letting your waves lead the way.

Just promise you’re not here

to tame me as I drift away.

Becca Raye

Inner Selfishness

I hear the echo or the voice of my inner selfishness speaking to me.

She knows not to pursue, but must satisfy the voice and not the universe.

That same echoing voice becomes my guilty nightmare.

I try shaking off the coldness of the inner voice.

Deciding to walk dow to the old magnolia tree, but something tells me to cast my attention to the field of lavender.

The breeze sends a whisper catching my trance the dancing lavender roped me into.

That whisper repeats: You don’t want to be that same woman anymore.

I remember that folded up piece of paper covered in coffee stains and the stench of cigarettes that has been kept in my back pocket since the day I walked down to the waterfront proceeding to perch, grabbing what seems to be a perfect pebble.

But the voice of my inner selfishness yells at me, reminding me there will never be something that pure.

Wanting to toss it out and watch it skip across the lake.

But not today, my inner selfishness says.

I know what to do to evolve from that selfish voice before it consumes me forever.

I catch myself yelling out loud.

Even though my mind is real flimsy when it comes to knowing what is right and what is wrong.

I still draw my attention back to that folded up piece of paper, reaching to evict it from my pants pocket, gaze over the 2nd thing I never wanted to let go. Light it on fire.

The embers fall gracefully into the crystal blue vortex of my secrets.

I revisit where I was before reliving every second, storing what I can in my mind.

I never would have known that I would keep your motionless body buried deep beneath the old magnolia tree, facing the lavender where you will smell beautiful forever while my inner selfishness keeps you near.

Ashleigh Brown AKA Nikki


I had what I believed was a heroine.

When I was cold, I had you as

my favorite fuzzy blanket.

You entered my body like a tsunami —

a complete warmth that

changed my mood in seconds.

Always there even if your loyalty

didn’t seem the same —

at least you stayed by my side

when I just wanted to ride.


you have made me go through

a car collision that wasn’t

meant for me to survive and

still I kept you by my side.

I would convince myself how

much the comfort of your love

outweighed all the destructive ways.

Just like that I walked through

the desert seeing the mirage you

put on

realizing my way of feeling your

comfort lead to my most

uncomfortable moments.

I have not only allowed you

to take over and rewrite my life,

I have let you control everything

so there is nothing I can claim

was mine.

You have taken away everyone that

I loved,

had me with the people

that couldn’t give a damn about

me really.

So enticing, I let you engulf

my consciousness, while you laid a veil

over my eyes.

Ashleigh Brown, AKA Nikki

Today I Reclaim

Today I reclaim the me

that I once knew.

No longer dragging anchoring,

stale situations along beside


I reclaim my words, actions,

and mind

keeping all the hate behind.

How much I missed that

woman I once knew.

I reclaim who I am outside

of a man or friend,

no longer struggling to

divine what’s supposed to

be mine.

This was hard to come by.

All the succubuses tried sucking

me dry.

After reclaiming so much of

my time.

I am starting to do

just fine.

Next time, I will tell people

to get in line.

Ashleigh Brown, AKA Nikki


Empowered women empower women.

We are supposed to stick together.

No matter the skin we’re in.

Why do we continually tear each other down?

Mostly around each other with hate or malevolence

on our hearts.

Saying hurtful words to get skin deep.

We say we’re encouragers, uplifters, and motivators.

We can’t pick and choose who we do these

things for, you just do it.

We need to stand now together, heart

to heart. Soul to soul.

Let’s start today, make a deal with yourself —

your sisters around you that you will be

a woman empowered to empower women.

Shakila Manes

Grief Storm

A storm of darkness, no tornado warnings

giving the feeling of being in the eye of the

storm. Throwing me against a brick wall

shattering every bone in my body. Drowning

in sorrow with no lifeguard. Bereavement filling

my throat and nostrils. Deluding thoughts

have a chokehold on my mind. My heart

butchered like raw meat, eaten by a grief

so cold and numb. A chill down to my toes.

Body stiff as if rigor mortis has set in.

Carrying around the weight of a dead body

my tears rain down on the world. I once lived

in full of life and color which now is black

and white.

Shakila Manes

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