bitter twisted lies

Bitter & Twisted (album)

This piece about lies is hard to read. Consider yourself forewarned.

It is also – most unfortunately –  not atypical of the kind of heart wrenching history that propels many women into prison. While the specifics shift in kaleidoscopic variation, the fundamental pieces can sound searingly similar: absence of basic safety, protection and nurture in early years; lifestyles that lead to early independence without healthy models or boundaries; the list goes on.

What is hopeful is how, in the course of writing and sharing their words, these women come to understand and accept how the past played out. They develop determination for living differently going forward. This is the true kernel of why we do this work of writing inside with Vermont’s incarcerated women.

Lies, Lies and More Lies

With your bitter, twisted lies
I stay and await a darkness that’s unknown.
We first met on a bright lit midway
and you told me you’d take care of me.
That was your first lie.
You brought me to a traphouse filled
with every addict ever known.

Your second lie was you loved me,
couldn’t live without me.
You loved me so much you wanted
to pass that love among all your friends.
It was said you couldn’t live without me,
that was a lie.
What you meant was, you’d kill me
if I tried to leave.

Your third lie was you’d protect me.
As the man grabbed me by my hair
and dragged me to the outside shed,
he went on beating me with a 4’6 board
and stomping my head in as you watched.

Your fourth lie was I’d always have a home.
The next day, I went to jail
with two broken ribs, trauma to the head
with $100 bail. From there
I never heard from you again
with your bitter, twisted lies.

– CS

7 thoughts on “bitter twisted lies

  1. Janelle Gilbert says:

    Honesty. Thank you. I’m sorry for what happened to you and I don’t think it is right. My hope is that your future stomps all over you past. Please don’t view your future with a rear view mirror larger than your windshield. Respect for your sharing.


    • sarahwbartlett says:

      Yes, Frank – ‘searing but beautiful’ would describe many of the writings from these ‘inside’ women. Fortunately, with the recent publication of HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write, these very words – and many many more equally courageous – will be in the hands of a broader public. We, too, hope that will include a number of youth. Thanks for your words.


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