There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home. – Rosalynn Carter
The cause of homelessness is lack of housing. – Jonathan Kozol
Between everyone in our writing circle, there has probably been hundreds of houses, apartments, sections of street, hotel rooms, and other dwellings. There have been places we’ve slept, ate, read books, cooked meals, and fed children. There are places we’ve lived for years or for days or for a couple hours. But if you ask anyone of us where our home is, we’ll probably name one, maybe to addresses.
These places are what we’ve been examining – what makes a home and what grounds us by having one. We can feel it in our bones, the placement of this home, and the tether that ties us to it is a string continuously played on the bodies and spirits of the writers. The strain of being away is apparent. It is a song that almost never stops, except maybe when we are writing.
And further, there are our bodies – how our bodies are our homes, how the home contains and nurtures the body, and how any invasion of those homes is violence on us, how it can make us feel untethered and insecure. We think things like, “What made you think you can come in here?”
In CRCF, there are invasions: “handcuffs, strip searches, mouth checks” as one writer describes. Like windows thrown open in a storm, these invasions keep a constant current in the air. Lightning struck, writers remember homes, hope for homes, call to homes without and within to steady themselves in the daily assault of incarceration and depravation. That is the reality of any prison, containment but not safety, a big house with no home.
Below, you’ll hear the voices of three writers who work to create a home space for themselves even inside.
Home is supposed to be happy,
a place where families are together,
a warm and safe place to go to.
Home is lost where intruders come,
a not-so-safe place to be anymore,
where loved ones are being hurt,
scared to go home to,
being destroyed by unwanted people.
From kids awaiting for me to return,
to provide them a happy and safe
place to be
with no intruders, just love and family,
as well as friends
Home is where the heart is,
the heart is where the home is.
I love my home, my family, my life.
When I get out — I will soon be his wife.
Commitments and love,
There is so much waiting for me,
so much love and life to offer.
I’ll leave here a new woman-
or rather a more put-together, confident and
I have many dreams–in which I’m dedicated to…
more so now–once this prison term is through.
My children need their mother
and my love needs his mate.
At times I feel so lost in here.
At times I feel some hate.
I try to kick these feelings.
I sometimes get inside my head
which can be toxic, can be deadly.
The words I sputter are so very true-
you are your own worst enemy –
nobody can make you
do or say anything.
In the end, it is only you.
Rise above and learn it all –
take it in, bit by bit,
be productive – don’t sulk, and don’t just sit.
Some days are better than others
to this I must agree.
But life is what you make it –
let go of resentments and anger so your mind can be freed.
My home will be better this time around.
I will be a whole new me –
My heart will be in it this time –
my heart will be for me.
Joy, Depression, The End
My home is my cattle.
I have been blessed throughout the years.
Each day I thank God
for giving me another–for letting me feel grateful,
to see the trees, the sky, the sun,
to breathe the crisp air,
to walk the dogs with pride.
Each day now, so different than before.
I’m living in a cement dungeon.
No open window.
No Sunshine entering.
Things happen for a reason.
If I hear that one more time,
I’m going to scream.
It’s hard to feel grateful or blessed here.
Where has all the beauty of life gone?
Mouth checks, strip searches, handcuffs, and shackles.
What kind of living do they call this?
I can tell you,
I haven’t a clue.
Tonight I came to write
but my mind is absent –
One good thing – I am not homeless.