Back On My Feet by Roosevelt Harrington

Realizing my mistakes gotta make it better

In my cell on my bed reading love letters

Babymoma tripping ain’t sweating shorty

I’m too old for the drama man I’m in my forties

My sister still mad for the things I did

I can’t blame her for it/it is what it is

My so call friends they went left on me

It like they couldn’t hear my cries they went deaf on me

Meanwhile I’m just working on a new plan

Sitting down with some bosses/time to expand

When your dream’s on the line what will you do?

Most people will fold/I’m glad I’m not you

My girl love me to death see she my lifeline

I’m make her Mrs. Harrington in due time

Competition nada I just came to get a dollar

Plus my baby daughter Nina she look good in Prada

Family is funny think I posed to give them money

Since my momma died they really did nothing for me

Got the world watching waiting for my next move

I know I’m gone win when they just want me to lose

My X hit me up like she want me back

I told her when I was down she should of thought of that

Self made I get paid every time I speak

42 — Jackie Robinson — I’m at my peak

I was down for a few/dead in these streets

Now look at me Momma I’m back on my feet

New Work from Norfolk City Jail

I AM

I am action through effect —

the conduct of pressure

that refines the vessel

nestled deep in the mind

that wrestles with times

when the obstacles are no more

than signs behind the shelter

defining the darkness that outshines

the confines of the message.

I am the method

expressed through the lessons of correction —

blessings manifested in fertile sections

of earthly textures that test you

to break through with new standards

of erection, passion, and conviction

towering over previous perceptions

of past confession.

These seconds clash with former

positions of misguided wishes

before I realized that the mission

is designed to provide you with riches

derived from intentions of your thought.

I am the extension, the force

mentioned in the course taken

through the purification of the heart —

the simple relation between work, patience,

delayed gratification —

faith, action, and its application.

The perfect example of Jesus overcoming

Satan,

and how the Messiah delivers liberation

through self-realization.

Steven Brown

The Documented Trials of a Power Couple: A Platform for Men and Women

The DTOAPC is a monthly discussion on various topics, situations, obstacles, etc., experienced by couples that are so sensitive that neither one attempts to address whatever issues there are causing “drama” in the relationship. In most relationships sensitive topics are not discussed often because they have a tendency to arouse hurtful emotions that many men and women are inclined to avoid.

For example: A common thread that passes through most relationships is lack of forgiveness. When one reveals their “true feelings” about a time when the other has offended them in the past, and they still hold resentment from that offense, the one who offended now faces self-created anxiety and fear of retaliation, among other things. Now the one who offended realizes the relationship isn’t as “solid” as they once thought. Questions now arise with anxiety. Have they already taken revenge to get back at their significant other? When will I find out how they have taken revenge? Will it be so hurtful as to cause me to become emotionally unstable? Or cause me to act out of character? Many couples have experienced this exact scenario.

The DTOAPC intends to bring these sensitive relationship topics to the surface, to put these so-called “power couple” labels through the test of fire. Power ultimately comes through trials and tests of truth in the relationship.

The goal is to restore relationships through up-front honesty, transparency, and most importantly understanding. And to reveal that trials in the relationship always come before the power from within the relationship.

In conclusion, we aim to address every issue within relationships. This includes, but is not limited to issues dealing with: finances, children. family, spiritual, community, gov’t/politics, and more. We want to know what you, the people, think and wish to hear your experiences and input into this new program for discussion and stage to be used to hear your voices.

By allowing the “power” of truth, honesty, transparency, and love from with the couple, to override and defeat the trials of the walls that separate us, we can nourish the growth, or heal the growth of a sprouting relationship.

J.C.

Spied Her

by Angel Flowers Carrier

I spy a shadow. Stalking, sneaking, salivating. She appears everywhere I am, endangering my loved ones. Off in the distance, yet here I hear and feel her heartbeat. Blood-dripped fangs, fresh from feasting, adorn my spider. Her web wriggles, waggles, and wavers. Satiation and starvation, a simultaneous feeling resides within, fueled by furiosity! Finally famished inside. The mirror refused a reflection of me. Instead I spied on her. Curious? I AM THE SPIDER WHO RESIDES INSIDE ME.

Nature

by Laura Konnight

As I sit here

and look at you

I see the beauty

all around you.

There’s a brightness

shining through.

I feel the peace

along with a sense

of calmness.

You are one of

the best things

God has created.

Wow, how refreshing

you are —

just to breathe

you in!

I’m Tired

by Laura Konnight

I’m tired of

the deep hole

that’s empty.

It never

fills up

with love.

The emptiness

inside feels

so hollow,

crooked

and dead.

I ask

why me?

But

not why me.

It’s a dark

cloud

that hovers

over me

that will leave

because

it’s part

of

the past.

Don’t be timid.

Be bold.

Crime

by Laura Konnight

Due to my addiction

I committed a crime.

Now I sit in a cell,

feeling worse that a dime.

Wondering about this

cycle of mine.

The doors are revolving

and do not shine.

Is there a reason

why I did it

this time?

To ruin me just

for another crime?

Where do I go

to turn my

life around?

Who do I

trust so I

don’t wear

a frown.

A Gift of Love

by Laura Konnight

I wanted

to surprise her

with a

beautiful night

under the stars

in our backyard.

So I put

up a tent,

prepared a bonfire,

set champagne on ice —

to set the mood

really right.

I strung my guitar

so I could play

my favorite song

and sing it to her.

I turned off

all electronics

including our phones,

so it’ll be just like

we’re 26 again.

Juneteenth by Roosevelt Harrington

Juneteenth

The day they let the very last slave free.

Now it’s the holiday for people like me.

To celebrate a time when they rape and beat our women.

Treated me as if I was nothing but scum on they shoe.

I’m sorry if I’m not singing and dancing to this tune,

Cause to me I heard this song before.

Let’s give them something to hide the fact that

For nine minutes a knee pressed on a brother’s neck.

Or to hide the true fact that there was never justice for Emmett Till.

Where’s the 40 acres and the mule you promise?

I guess we will never see that ever in this lifetime.

Jails are packed with a few whites but mostly colored,

Looking like me but some done lost they soul-brother.

So tell Sleepy Joe to wake up and open his eyes to see the truth.

Only ones who is free in this world is you.

And your people of your color and not mines.

We ok we don’t need y’all sympathy cause we just fine.

We know what time it is. We know the deal.

Not matter what we do we never have an even playing field.

So take Juneteenth, Black History Month, and shove it up ya…

In the words of great Dr. King: Thank God Almighty, we…?

Untitled by Roosevelt Harrington

This is for my people who wanna hug me

and tell me that they love me —

cause for a few I was locked and they couldn’t touch me.

Things started out ugly, in the end it got brighter.

Chenika stayed down with me. Dog, she’s a fighter.

That’s why she gets the title Wifey Playa.

Promise I’m always do right by her playa.

When I was in jail my dreams was getting shattered.

The world was in a frenzy with Black Lives Matter.

My son getting bigger. My daughter starting to talk.

My baby boy’s one — he starting to walk.

Getting a second chance when they think I might blow it —

running with the same crowd, now I can’t afford it.

This is my time to shine — I gotta know it.

On the highway of life, and man, I’m bout to floor it.

who needs friends when God is on ya side?

So strap ya seat belt, cause man, it’s time to ride.

New work from Norfolk City Jail: Men’s Block

NO LONGER CONSUMED

In this chapter of my life, I am no longer consumed by confusion, anxiety, worry, anger, resentment, and fear.

These emotions cause imbalance between mental and physical and stunt their growth. The scars of life left by great losses forced a strategy of endurance, tolerance, and perseverance.

Moments of reflection and introspection allowed time to take inventory of the various causes and effects of life. Acceptance of understanding becomes the final task of truth being made plain.

As realization takes hold, I let go of all the burdens of my life, those burdens that are unique to me. What would be a crash landing has become a clear path on a journey, without destination, now supported by wisdom.

Wisdom encourages patience and persistence.

I have appointed these three warriors to stand guard at the door of my sanctuary.

Life will not relax on forcing obstacles. At every turn there is a battle with our own pride and ego. Identify the burdens weighing you down and subdue them.

Our purpose in life can be made known when we free our life of the gripping power of confusion, anxiety, worry, anger, resentment, and fear.

We are no longer consumed.

J. C.

2 HOLD HER

My face momentarily held by the floor as plenty of hollow thoughts stream through a city of twists and turns.

In a rather dull moment, the sound rings!

Now, I grasp onto the memory. I clench with all my concentrated might.

It is hard to possess the flow while the images go past one, then two. And then there’s that one image.

Freeze frame!

Now what was going on here?

It was documented. I know, because I recorded it. It was cold that day. So cold my fingers turned pink. I went into the restroom while we were there at the mall.

Yeah, it’s the right moment.

But fast forward frame to the ferry! Hold this please, sir, and follow me. Make sure you close up when I drop to my knees.

Here I am, top of the world…and now down on my knees.

I look up and see her glorious shine. As she turns in surprise, eyes wide.

I ask to hold her hand into everlasting.

J.C.

New Work from Norfolk City Jail: Tahirah Dudley

You Are Wrong

I’m not quiet —

mute,

deaf,

but acute.

Choose not to listen.

Question.

Take lessons.

I’m guessing

you don’t understand me

’cause I seem obsolete.

There are no more of me.

I’m replaced with the weak.

I reject

when upset.

I select when offset.

I neglect

the subject

trying to infect my mindset.

I was born to be strong.

Mother built me like Teflon.

If that’s not what you’re thinking,

then sorry,

you are wrong.

Shut Down

I disengage,

disassemble.

I’m unresponsive,

unattentive.

I disassociate,

isolate,

then contemplate.

I really hate

you trying to relate

or even conversate.

This is no debate.

I just seem to shake

whatever is at stake.

I unwind,

clear my mind,

refuse to bind,

waste my time.

Before I’m bound —

be held down,

without a sound —

I shut down.

DRUGS

Addiction is my affliction.

Has always changed

my disposition.

As of now,

it’s in remission.

No more monopolizing

my attention.

I’ll be consistent.

I be dismissing

any drug

that has existed.

In my recovery —

did I mention? —

the competition

is plain ridiculous.

It’s a race

to the finish.

I’m going to win

this deadly mission.

Surrender Your Weapons

What if my mouth is a gun

and my heart is a shield?

Could my foot be a stone

or my tongue sharp like a sword?

Do my eyes cut like a dagger?

Will my fingers lure you to danger?

Why hide my hands behind my back?

‘Cause my head is used as a torture chamber.

If only your ears heard the screams.

When your nose smells the blood.

If your mind knew the pain.

Would you surrender your weapons?

New Work from Norfolk City Jail: Surrender Your Weapons

Control

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

Heroine

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.

Though

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

me

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

Empower

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

New Parody (!) from Norfolk City Jail

On Military Highway, blunt in my hair,

warm smell of crack rocks, rising up through the air.

Behind me in the distance, I saw a blinking light,

my head grew heavy and my sight grew dim.

Should have called it a night.

I thought I could get away ’til I heard the sirens wail.

I was thinking to myself, Oh shit, damn, what the hell?

Then she threw me some sandals, and she showed me the way.

There were voices down the corridor, I though I heard them say:

Welcome to the Norfolk City Jail —

such a dirty place, such a dirty place.

Such a musty place, such a musty place.

Running out of space at the Norfolk City Jail —

all fucking year, all fucking year —

you can find us here.

Our minds are defiantly twisted, all the money we spend.

We got a lot of canteen ho’s we call girlfriends.

Killing these fucking flies is hard, have me in a sweat.

I can hit it with my shoe, still won’t be killing it.

Someone told the captain I was making wine.

He said: We find that shit in here, you’re getting six to nine.

And still those voices are calling from far away.

Wake you up in the middle of the night,

just to hear them say:

We’re doing time at the Norfolk City Jail.

What a nice surprise, what a nice surprise,

found some alibis.

Toothpaste on the ceilings, bagged milk on ice.

Ms. Tammy said: We are all just prisoners here

of our own device.

As we grab our badges they yell: Time to feed!

We try with our plastic spoons, but we just can’t eat the meat.

Last thing I remember, I was twitching on the floor–

taser electrocuting my back. I can’t take anymore.

Relax, said the policeman, we are programmed to receive

You can bond out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

Angel Flowers Carrier

Laura Ko Knight

New Poems from Laura Konnight, Norfolk City Jail, Women’s Block

SURRENDER

I’m tired of chasing.

I’m tired of racing.

I need to surrender.

I’m tired of dealing.

I’m tired of stealing.

I’m tired of geeking.

I’m tired of tweeking.

I’m tired of peeping.

I’m tired of not sleeping.

I’m tired of drinking.

I’m tired of not thinking.

I’m tired of smoking.

I’m tired of toking.

Today, I surrender.

AMY

Once upon a time, I met this lady

I call my friend. I didn’t know how

to fully be there for her, why she

shed some tears as she lost her

love one, and felt broken in

two. My heart began to melt

for her, as I shed mine, too.

I want the right words to

speak to her, so that I know

I comforted her through

this stage of grief. Lord,

help me to let her know

with or without words

I am here for her, too.

RJ

How do you begin to let go

when you feel you’ve just begun?

Your love is strong, but health

weak. I need you more today

than yesterday. So what I will say

is I will pray even more your health

will get stronger and our love will

be a great bond. As my tears overflow,

my heart beats fast. My mouth begins

to pray, and I fast at last.