2015 Words Unlocked Contest Winners

#WU15

Honorable Mention

The Cycle

Poet: La'Rico

Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services, Kentucky

Jefferson County High School

Teacher: Devan King

Out of Rubble 

Poet:Noah

Camp Florence Youth Transitional Facility, Oregon

Oregon State University Online via the Oregon Youth Authority

Teacher: Marc Barnum

 

Young and Not Yet Free

Poet: Erik

Phoenix House Academy, California

Teacher: Florence Avognon

The Cycle

 

It’s the lack of education,

Born into poverty is one of the worst situations,

Surrounded by people without any patience,

Got us hustlin’ out of vacant’s.

Young people hate waitin, if it’s not given they wind up taking,

But growing up that was their occupation,

That’s when the wrap sheet starts accumulating,

serve an amount of time then back to the population,

seems like the government is run by Satan

different types of persuasion,

just a messed up nation,

got us contemplating & hatin’

the cycle of incarceration.

 

Poet: La'Rico

Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services, Kentucky

Jefferson County High School

Teacher: Devan King

 

Out of Rubble 

 

I was placed in special classes my peers said were for crazy kids and retards.

People told me I had potential, but my eyes could only see the labels.

The ones that were written on my progress report:

Disruptive,

Low attention span,

Impulsive.

 

The word “School” left a bad taste in my mouth.

I tried to wash it down with malt liquor;

Hands to small to palm 40 oz bottles

decided not to reach for education,

They reached for pistols and blue bandanas.

Two things I thought would give control to my unstable life.

The kid that failed mathematics

quickly mastered the concept of gram scale measurements.

 

The labels no longer mattered

I had found a subject I could excel at.

Bad examples I called “big homies”

told me others addiction was economic opportunity,

So I set out diluting lives with baggies and balloons.

My conscience wouldn’t allow me to sell meth,

I stayed in the business of ecstasy and weed,

But everything changed when I turned seventeen.

 

I was robbed during a transaction;

My damaged pride told me to take action.

My teenage hands reached for malt liquor and a pistol,

Two things I thought would solve the situation.

I made the biggest mistake of my life in a drunken daze,

In the court room I pleaded out to my very first case.

 

I was given seven and a half years

in exchange for my actions.

My removal from the streets gave me a chance to see

everything from a fresh perspective.

I analyzed my past down to every mistake;

I was a detective and my life was the case.

 

Exposure to positive role models

gave me a direction to strive for.

They grabbed me by the hand

and led me towards college.

My physical incarceration seemed small

compared to my freedom through education.

 

The kid who couldn’t read a conventional clock at seventeen

was now making honor roll;

But, honor roll did relieve me of the labels.

 

It is hard to erase things

that are tattooed on your self esteem.

I once again played detective,

analyzing who had brought me to believe these lies,

The results were sickening,

I was guilty.

 

My ears heard the words

that developed the labels,

but I chose to believe them.

They now sit in my conscience 

like an unplugged toaster,

Powerless.

 

I keep them with me

so I can identify those

who still carry them.

My words hold the merit to disarm them.

Labels are like pistols that fire inwards;

The wounds they cause manifest in array of things.

Mine brought self-destruction.

 

But out of the rubble came a champion,

grasping the trophy of transformation. 

 

Poet:Noah

Camp Florence Youth Transitional Facility, Oregon

Oregon State University Online via the Oregon Youth Authority

Teacher: Marc Barnum

 

Young and Not Yet Free

 

We’re idolized by some who miss being young,

While mistaken by the ones who think being young is fun.

Many of us are frustrated,

The struggles of the incarcerated,

 

 If ignorance was a game I think most of us have played it

 But some of us never had a plan,

 We were never given a chance.

 Growing up with drugs,

 Kickin’ it with thugs,

 Never felt love.

 

So all we do is run…run away

From our family run away

From being happy

 

 Some of us scarred…we never had a daddy

Circumstances lack logic, our livelihoods are tragic

Parents doing drugs, we’re influenced by addicts

Memories are traumatic

 

We’re society’s disgrace, easily replaced

Millions of children are being locked up today

Now please don’t get me wrong –

I’m not saying we don’t deserve it

But locking us in cages completely defeats the purpose

So many of us feel worthless.

 I know ‘cause I’m that person

But I believe in the truth

I believe in the youth

Positive percentages will go through the roof

We’re the mentally abused- lost and confused

Walking with no direction

An expressionless complexion.

 

I guess we’re the modern day zombies.

And to the ones we’ve hurt

On my behalf I’m sorry.

But I still believe in the truth

I believe in the youth

 

Our issue will be pressed.

With a little motivation

We, as adolescents, will achieve success

 

Poet: Erik

Phoenix House Academy, California

Teacher: Florence Avognon

 

Gangster’s Prayer Request

 

Poet: Dillen

Naselle Youth Camp, Washington

Teacher: Ditas Baker

9 YEARS

Poet: KE

Summit County Juvenile Detention Facility, Ohio

Teacher: Ruth Edge

 

#WU15

3rd

Place

Gangster’s Prayer Request

 

 

Lord don’t let this be my final thought

As my body inches through this block.

Having homicidal thoughts of me reaching for my Glock.

Dreams of what used to be now outline in white chalk

One destination to a concreted cellblock.

 

And without hope hell’s hot

Forgive me father forgive me for all that I am,

 Though it’s not my fault,

Because if I fall I won’t be able to pick myself up again.

 

It used to be my heart driven by this pad and this pin,

  But it’s a crazy situation found myself in.

  Look I only got two options in this street life or life in prison.

And death without parole is an artistic vision.

I know Lord you only want me to succeed,

 But I don’t think I can fight this much evil inside of me.

 

Might as well set me free or let me see the way that you see,

And breathe the way that you breathe,

  But please don’t give up on me for I am

Still your son looking for the righteous hand to guide me,

If you can’t save me I still pray you still save the rest behind me

 

For love is not a sin it’s a blessing full of kindness,

And love doesn’t manufacture itself overtime because time is timeless.

In a realm where species turn on their own kind and resort to violence,

And teens are tossed in the street with no chance to succeed,

And thrown into an institution with no chance to be free.

 

 

Poet: Dillen

Naselle Youth Camp, Washington

Teacher: Ditas Baker

9 YEARS

 

9 Years

Silver Spoon?

My spoon came out of plastic bags

Placed on paper plates, No escape

So I harassed my dad

 

The words I spoke were hateful

As a youngin’ I was unthankful

For the leg of chicken on the table

And the televisions bearing cable

 

“What is this stuff?”

Silence could only tell the name

Of the white powder crowded

Inside of the transparent cellophane

 

Months later, he’s sick

And it seems as if recovery is impossible

To my stomach, I’m sick

As he’s placed on the stretcher to the hospital.

 

“Every little thing’s going to be alright”

Bob Marley to keep my headstrong

My tear ducts are all dried up

There’s no one to depend on.

 

3 AM, but the only thought

Is how much our lives lack time

For this war that he’s always fought

Became the result of the ringing flat line

 

I can’t believe it, all this constant waiting

Bedside, hands clenched, all this honest praying

Concentrating on an answer but, the response was vacant

Losing the one I looked up to like astonishing constellations

 

This is where it all began

Facing all of thine fears

Where I had to become a man

At the age of 9 years

 

Poet: KE

Summit County Juvenile Detention Facility, Ohio

Teacher: Ruth Edge

 

2nd

Place

#WU15

Who Are You?

 

Poet: AH

Macon Regional Youth Detention Center, Georgia

Teacher: Yashica Turner

Just for Today

 

Poet: McKensie 

Oak Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon

Three Lakes High School

Teacher: Diane McGinnis

Who Are You?

 

I am a bird without wings,

never able to fly or soar free,

I am a fish out of water,

dying slowly,

as we all are.

 

I am a prisoner,

chained by lies and stereotypes,

deemed a juvenile,

a menace to society.

why not a misunderstood teen,

why not a lost sheep,

searching for my shepherd,

trying to beware of wolves.

 

I am a flower bud,

ready to bloom.

I am a puzzle missing pieces,

feeling incomplete,

 

I am a caged up animal,

longing for freedom.

I am a boy,

a small caterpillar,

transforming into a man.

 

I am me,

not you,

or you.

I am becoming a better me,

the real question is,

Who are you?

 

 

Poet: AH

Macon Regional Youth Detention Center, Georgia

Teacher: Yashica Turner

Just for Today

 

In the middle of the night I wake up in a fright.

Blankets tangled and twisted around my legs.

Sweat drenches my sheets as I fight back the urge to scream.

The dream that I fear most still fresh as reality.

My mind starts to spin and then it begins.

My memories so clear they jump out of my skin.

They are of you and me and how we used to be.

So frail and fragile I could hardly breath.

Then I remember the sting of the cold tip on my flesh.

The point pushing just hard enough that it breaks the skin.

Into the vein that was used the most.

I know right away when the point is in.

When I see my blood filling up the syringe.

The time has come to push down on the top.

Instantly feeling the black sweetness fill up my cup.

The feeling is like nothing but sweet ecstasy.

Pull the tip out of my skin, slow and sweet.

Watch the blood that comes bubble up like a pearl,

as my body slowly drifts off into a complete other world.

This is always the point when I wake up.

The rush smashing into me like a wall of fire.

So hot and so real but yet clearly not there. 

 

Poet: McKensie 

Oak Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon

Three Lakes High School

Teacher: Diane McGinnis

#WU15

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