waiting

AG

artwork by AG

At this time of year, there is so much waiting. Waiting for winter to end. Waiting for the first signs of spring. Waiting for spring to stay around long enough to enjoy. Waiting to shake off those winter blues. Waiting to feel better. Waiting to hear what the courts have to say. Waiting to go home.

Inside or out, waiting feels the same. It is mixed with memory, with apprehension, with love and despair. It comes in waves, sits like a boulder, dissipates vapor-like before us. Waiting holds all the weight of its negativity. Even joyful waiting can feel heavy because time slows down to such a painful, slow pace.

Although waiting was not the topic of any recent writing, the weight of time has seeped through many recent writings. Regret for past actions and waiting for time to set them right. Feeling that no matter how hard we try, things don’t change. Hoping against hope for love to buoy us up. Perhaps above all, the inside writing these days has a heaviness to it in contrast to the increasing light outside, the birdsong and sun and emerging color that lift spirits that live in them. Another reminder of the stark reality of ‘life’ behind concrete windowless walls.

PARACHUTE
make a parachute out of everything broken …

Down a long dark hallway
there’s a door.
To an average eye it’s just a door.
Behind the door lies a bedroom.
Punished, forced to stay.
Where to hide.
There isn’t enough hours in the day.
Her mother’s always distraught.
Her father’s at work.
There’s noone there to see the hurt.
In that very bedroom, dark shadows arise.
And curled up in her closet
the lonely girl cries.
She wants to run but it’s never worked before.
But if she stays, then
the pain will come so much more.
When she asks for help,
scolding is obtained.
For it’s only a lie and
the boy is being framed.
Sneak out your window, she’ll
give it one more try.
Too scared of the dark,
she can’t run, only cry.
Only 13, what can she do
when everything is broken.
Then the wind blew.
She climbs onto the roof from the woodpile first,
her heart beating so fact she swears it might burst.
If she was a bird, she’d just fly away.
But she couldn’t leave for five more years that May.
She dreamt of her pain and all she had felt
and wished she could charge her stars as she stared at Orion’s belt.
A parachute from her broken dreams, raised on a broken heart.
But one day she’d land and get a fresh start.
DB

***

Now what do you want to do about it?
Well, my first reaction to my pent-up frustration is to argue and stand up for myself. But then I remind myself how close I am to leaving this place. And also I came here alone, and I’ll leave alone, even though I did end up with a couple people I think I can call my friends. I knew I was going to hate coming to jail and being confined. But I didn’t think about all the different personalities under one roof. That alone can drive someone crazy. But mixed together with all aspects of jail life is definitely not a place I want to keep coming back too. I feel as though I am being tested on a daily basis on skills I have learned while being here. I can proudly say “I’m winning, not getting a rise or reaction out of me” All I want is to live a happy life out in the real world. Surrounded by people that genuinely care about me and enjoy my company. At the end of the say, it’s just me I need to worry about, making the right decisions to get me out the doors to a better life.
KT

***

MY HEART TONIGHT – TIME FOR CHANGE
My heart was once full,
I felt so complete.
I was filled with so much love,
I never skipped a beat.
Now my heart is broken,
and I feel so empty.
My insides are screaming,
someone please come and help me.
So much has happened in the past few years
from joy and happiness
to heartbreak and tears.
From working to not,
my kids here and then gone.
It seems like a lot,
and I’m not even done.
I’ve changed so much,
more than I ever thought I could.
I hate the direction I’m going –
it has done me no good.
So here’s where I stop
and turn my life around
before it’s too late
and I end up in the ground!
FH

moving toward gratitude

gratitude saying

credit – dr christina hibbert

Perhaps it’s the time of year. People gathering family and food to celebrate the abundance in their lives as if it were the norm.

Perhaps it’s because, this year, I will be without my family. I’m feeling a ragged hole in my heart without anticipation to soften those sharp edges.

Perhaps it’s because the reality is, many people do not have family around them this week. I’m thinking of a few women who, in their post-prison-release reality, are sinking into their own variations of scarcity. Scarcity of food, family, money. Scarcity of support. Scarcity of internal resources. Scarcity, period.

As the holidays approach – with their weeks of preparation, hype and inevitable let-down – I am more reminded than ever of those whose reality is scarcity. Even when their imaginations can conjure alternate story lines or comforting memories. Continue reading

hope during advent

Credit: marian solidarity

Credit: marian solidarity

Last night, in keeping with the first week of Advent, we wrote to the theme of hope. What made this writing challenging – and  to the amazement of the women around the circle, rewarding – was the second part. After a 20 minute free-write, each woman took an additional 10 minutes to transform her words into a poem. We used the pantoum, an accessible repeating pattern based on 8 distinct lines which women selected from the ‘strongest’ in their original writing.

The resulting poems spoke raw power, profound clarity and deep pain. Read both the original and poetic versions from TH, one of our newer writers. She sinks directly into experience, dredging up the immediacy of her pain and struggle for hope using the analogy of drug use. It took my breath away. But you decide for yourself!

‘Please try your call again later.’ Sighing, I hang the plastic black receiver up and continue staring at the numbers on the keypad. You never seem to be on the other end anymore . . .  The guard hands out stacks of cards and letters. As usual, I receive nothing.

I am here.

Alone.

Forgotten.

Buried in pain.

My mind turns the corner of loneliness, extracting hope as if with a tiny syringe, sucking it in off its home in my soul and injecting it into my current state, bright red, pungent, stinging my veins. It hurts to hope because you never come. You never answer. You never write.

And yet, I magically produce more, even now, as snow lightly decorates the ground; even as December marches on in pageantry and decoration. You are mine and I am yours. We always say we are family, and family NEVER LEAVES family!

But you’re gone. Continue reading

from my desolate soul

Credit: K Punkrock

In keeping with this week’s holiday, we wanted to post another Thanksgiving writing from one of the incarcerated women with whom we write weekly. Especially since this Thursday is one of very few in the year when we will not be writing together. TH’s writing invites you into her family with simple direct intimacy; and leaves you haunted with the harsh reality of the change a single year can bring to a family.

I remember last Thanksgiving . . .
            it was just our little family
            you, me, our five-year-old son.

Without much money, a feast was impossible
            So we had stuffing; you made pork chops,
            and all three of us filled our stomachs.

Trudging upstairs, little man exclaimed
            “Mom and Dad, that was great!
            My belly feels full!”

As we climbed to the top step
            we ushered him into the bathroom,
            bubbles piled in the tub.
            He jumped in, bubbles crashed and popped
            you and I snuck a look at each other, chuckling.

I knew we both thought that although we didn’t have much,
            we had each other. That was the miracle
            of Thanksgiving. To me, anyhow.

            The fact that our daily struggle culminated
            once a year into a day of reflection
            and gratefulness that we still
            held each other every night and
            we made it through another year.

This year, nothing remains . . . Continue reading

meaning of Easter

Anticipating the recent dual-holiday weekend at our last writing sessionImage, we asked our writers inside to recall favorite childhood memories, and to reflect on how their understanding of the holiday has deepened or changed in adulthood. One women writes:

I was too young to understand the value of Easter. As a child you believe that your family will always be there. The people that I refer to as my grandparents were actually my step-grandparents, my stepmother’s parents. My stepmother couldn’t have children and she had no siblings. But this was my family; they raised me and made every holiday special and unique. My stepmother was the best mother anyone could ask for, in spite of my shortcomings as a daughter.

With my grandparents in heaven and my parents in Florida, we do not spend any more holidays like we used to. However, without missing a beat, my stepmother – my mom in the truest sense of the word – sends me a card for every holiday, from Christmas to St. Patrick’s Day. It brings back all the wonderful memories. Memories locked in my heart that cannot be confined by these walls that confine my body.

RP