strength unseen


We are literally making our world at each and every moment through our actions, expressions and communication. – Anodea Judith

The words that have been used to rob you of individuality are the very means by which you can restore dignity and create identity. – Deena Metzger

This week we continued our exploration of fairy tales examined from a new perspective. The opening lines of ‘Gretel’ by Linda Pastan read: ‘I am leaving a trail of poems/behind me as I go…’  and goes on from there to weave in a number of timely themes: immortality, environmental degradation, the power of language to hold paradox. Between the epigraphs and the poem, prompts leapt from the page. Many writers chose to reflect on love lost or gained, while one wrote about her legacy to her children in the form of a eulogy. Another wrote seeing jail time as a positive opportunity to turn around the negativity in her life.

Despite the overall atmosphere of depression and discouragement that has hung over the inmates in recent weeks, this group was exceptionally upbeat, comprising a large number of participants  and a high percentage of new-to-the-group writers. As a result, the writing was spirited and varied, and according to end-of-class comments, left everyone feeling lighter as a result. Some rose to the challenge of condensing their writing into a six-line poem or a 17-syllable haiku. Read on to get a feel for the variety:

“even my forest is disappearing …” from ‘Gretel’

But I have planted more trees now. It’s flourishing with strong trunks that reach way up far into the sky. I like the way, when I look up into the sky – especially on a sunny – I see through masses upon layers the rays of sun sparkling, dancing through and through way up on the blue. The newly blossoming buds are a pretty green and it is life and newness and beautiful, just plain Beautiful!

I love this time of year in Vermont, everything has life again. Like the newness of a young infant. It is indeed a miracle and I am blessed. II shall no longer take my birth ever again for granted! You are beautiful, I am beautiful inside and out. Believe you can, anything is possible!


Even my forest is disappearing.
I planted more trees now,
flourishing, strong, reaching
far into the sky. Look up! Rays of sun
diamonds frosting, dancing through and through
pretty green Vermont life again. Blessed be.




When I think about leaving a legacy,
I think about all the word in my journals.
The many poems I’ve created.
Some are experiences in my childhood.
There are those I wrote about my son
and about my family.
Since I have lived in this place,
a place I never reveal –
never? well maybe a few times,
I have insinuated this cinderblock hell hole.

Mostly, my words are those
that reveal my life, my past.
Some day someone will find
my trail of words left behind.
I hope they find them unique,
know the love I felt for life.
Will they appreciate my time,
hours spent thinking?

If my mom left behind words
I would treasure them like gold.
If my wish of hoping my words
will be read and understood,
the legacy of words I have
will be my train of gold.

Leave a legacy –
golden words I have wrote.
Read. Remember me.




Lost in an unfamiliar world dangerous and unstable. Sinking in a darkness so dark your soul begins to die. Where every reflection of yourself is nothing more than a cruel attempt at humor oddly distorted, twisted into unrecognizable images. Cold-hearted lies everywhere. Where every path leads you to a place far worse than the one you just left behind. At the turn of every corner, a creature waits to devour your sense of self. What does one do when faced with such torment? How does someone ever escape an existence so vile? An inner voice would rise up inside me with an answer so right I felt compelled to follow its advice in this unfamiliar world. Grab the map of past experience. Follow the path of confidence. You’ve made it out of similar places before. Be sure of your footing. You were taught to walk by the best in the darkness. Stay calm. Bring a flashlight. Light up your surroundings and look for the exist. You’re strong. No darkness can bind you.

When in the presence of Fault’s reflection, don’t lose sight of who you really are. You’re beautiful just the way you are. No fake reflection could ever change the truth in places far worse than the last. Don’t beat yourself up about how you wished you’d chosen more wisely. After all, is there ever really such a thing as a wrong path, if in the end you grow wiser and stronger for it? Face the sun, follow your heart. Always keep with you the image of yourself that you know to be true. Never give up For the only thing sadder than footprints in the sand washed away by the tide are the footprints never made for fear you’d end up walking a little out of the way.



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