i am waiting for me

Marilyn Kalish

One of the most anticipated moments in each inside writing circle comes near the end, just before the final chime signals the close. It is the moment when one of the 14-plus women around the circle hopes to be the one to read the week’s ‘found’ poem – a weaving of words written, spoken and recorded the previous week by the women in the circle. These words find their way into a poem that is in the truest sense a community creation.

The resulting piece is wholly new and different from any one of the previous week’s writings, at the same time as it contains the seed and memory of each woman’s individual writing. It is a gift to us all, both anticipated and cherished around the circle. In fact, last night one of our long-time writers emphatically declared that these poems are so powerful in their own right, they deserve to become an independent publication. Duly noted!

Some days I am emotionless
my heart waiting for me
to get rid of being scared
to be carefree;

waiting for the months to pass
to embrace life in a new context
bring truth from my past forward.
It’s OK through my actions to change,

for love’s gravity to pull me close to center
plant her foot firmly in my life.
My past may creep up on me –
always felt like I was in a cocoon,
a prisoner to my addiction –

my truth is, it’s time to let loose. Continue reading

patient powerlessness

Being incarcerated means endless waiting…for chow, for meds, for decisions from the courts about your status.  ..a deserved waiting, some would say.  But, imagine the experience of losing control over absolutely EVERYTHING in your life, including when you shower, eat, hug your children, and on and on.  Imprisonment is the ultimate experience of powerlessness.

“Turtle” by Tina

Responding to a line from Kay Ryan’s poem Patience, ‘inside’-writer BE shares her insights:

“Patience is wider than one once envisioned…”

If you listen to the ringing in your ears, your heart racing as your mind says quicker, quicker, quicker…go, go, go, yet your body yearns for solitude, and “patience” seems like a foreign word.

..waiting at the end of the line having to sit and think about the life you left behind…not knowing when or if you’ll get back in time.

..listening to the radio, waiting for your favorite song to play.  Day turns to night, and it never played.  ..not having the choice to change the disc or skip the CD.

..waiting for the great day to come when you will hear good news.  Maybe you can get back to your life and your own choices.

Now you’ve waited and waited long enough and what they call “patience” is all you have left inside your hurting soul.

..having no choice but to endure this complicated situation you’ve put yourself in.  ..being left with no choice but to be patient.  God knows that once you lose it (patience), the consequences will only hurt worse and steal more light from your already aching soul.

Some say “patience is a virtue.”  Yet, I must ask, is it a virtue or a necessary tool for this place we call “life?”

waiting for mom

A second story from this week’s prompt putting together three completely different writings into one connected whole. This final piece speaks for itself:

“As a child I remember anxiously waiting for her to reappear, just to see her beautiful face, to be reassured she was still there somewhere in my life.

I was disappointed a lot, waiting. It seemed that’s all I did is wait, play with the thought of what I’d do when she did come back to me.

As I waited, Grandma taught me how to bake, played with me, made me clothing, and nurtured me as she failed to do for my own mother. It’s like she made up extra for her misgivings when my mom was growing up.

Looking back on it, there was a cycle in generations, and then with my own children as well. I’m sure my own children felt the same when I was away too long and my mother took care of them. I believe my Grandma, my mom and I were good mothers; only we were only taught so much. I think there was something amiss, to have generation after generation repeat the cycle.

We three learned a deeply valuable lesson, all in all. We gave each child something to hold on to, remember, value and learn from. When it all comes down to it, I believe we have a deep bond and care; and with what was dealt to us throughout life, I believe there’s a deep passion and empathy for our family history.

It’s who I’ve become today. Sometimes I cry and become sad; but honestly, I believe life is as it should be now. We all have our own safe places. I’m grateful my children only went through half of what I did; but then, I guess it would be wrong to say what they went through was less than. Maybe I don’t know. I guess I can only hope; and one day I might know just what they honestly felt and what they say through their eyes.”

– TD

we are waiting for . . .

What we want

. . .  a letting go, a blind falling . . . permission to breathe again . . . as if our whole lives depended on . . .

These phrases from Linda Pastan’s poem, “Interlude,” opened last week’s writing circle inside Vermont’s prison for women. The ten women around the table lifted pens, wrote without stopping for 20 minutes on yellow tablets, then shared their words — some with trepidation, some boldly, some with tenderness. After their words had been held and heard, we spoke back into the circle phrases that resonated with us. These ‘read-back’ lines became the material for the following ‘found’ poem, whose title is one of the lines:


 moral fibers now frayed
force my shoulders to drop
teetering between my two selves
self-righteous self-loathing
twisted into shards
struggling to breathe
in the armor I construct for myself. Continue reading