signaling through flames



To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment. – Galway Kinnell

Poetry meets us where we are without expecting us to move on before we are ready. – Lisa Rosman

What are poets for, in such an age?/What is the use of poetry?/The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it. – From “Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

We closed national poetry month with a night set aside for self-advocacy. There exists an antiquated tradition in poetry to stay out of politics but most poets and the poets on the inside understand poetry as an essential tool for political discourse. In the pieces below, you’ll read the perspectives of those on the inside on the personal, the political, and how the two cross over in their experience at CRCF.


I ran most of the way.
Checking the mail, my job every day.
I don’t really know my mom.
All I’m sure about
when she’s around my papa might shout.
Meeme is never calmed down
but when I dream of mom she wears a crown.
She the queen of my life
and I love her from the stars to the ground.
She carried me in her belly (but that was pretty much it)
showed me how to make PB + Jelly (even though I usually wore it.)
She never really stayed for too long.
It usually always seemed like there was something wrong.
My sisters always with her then, less and less.
I started to notice she didn’t look her best.
Mommy, why is your hand always bruised and blue?
I hadn’t seen her in over a month when I saw the news.
Papa tried to cover it up with a corny song.
When I watched it all along.
What’s heroin Meeme? And why did mom sweep it?
Her answer was NOTHING through teeth she grit.
Mommy was sick and needs to get well,
not really her body but her judgment went to hell.
She’s gone to time out for two years or so.
She might stay for five but who really knows?
My mommy still loves me, rain, shine, or snow?
I draw her pictures and write at least once a week.
I even sent her my report card because my grades are on FLEEK.
Our relationship now is better than ever



Take a small time (or big time) dealer, someone who sells here and there to support their own habit. Tell them that one of the bags they sold just killed one of their close friends or family members and they are now going to jail for manslaughter for 2 ½ – 20 years. Bring them straight to jail where they will detox cold turkey with nothing but tylenol and antidiarrheal meds and sleep on a half inch of foam on top of a metal slab or attempt to sleep anyway because they won’t get more than an hour for the first thirty days. Take them off all their legitimate prescriptions, antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleep meds, pain meds, shit, even their antacids and tell them that every illness, pain, disease, and dysfunction they have ever been diagnosed with isn’t real and that they are just an addict. Put them in with a bunch of sadistic bitches who will call them a killer and say they did it on purpose and that they didn’t love or care about the person who died…now leave that person there to marinate for three months before offering a chance on the outside where they can choose to either cook their ass or…



Such an angry place
So many unresolved issues
If the walls had feelings they would be drenched in tears
just as the pillows we lay our heads on.

Wearing a mask
so no one can get in.
Maybe it’s because we fear being hurt again.

It’s like watching children
in the school yard
finding a place to fit in.

So many times
you’re just an outsider
looking in. It seems so unreal.

Lies, truths, stories, tears, fights,
anger we all feel
but under it all.

We all share the fact,
a painful reality, that got us here
and no one wants to do this alone.



. . . and you?

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