Poetic Justice is a non-profit organization that offers writing workshops to women facing incarceration in the state of Oklahoma. They believe poetry can empower women to believe in the power of their own voice, offering healing and hope for the future.

I let myself be inspired by their words and tried to create images that would convey the emotions so eloquently described by each poet. In doing so, I felt the longing for family and the weight of loneliness, how yearning and despair can coexist in the human heart.

HOME

Criminal/reject/damaged goods/monster

I am everything and I am nothing

In you I am reborn

You are the star that guides me

bringing me out of the darkness

Flawed and Twisted, I will become

everything I have fought not to be.

The sun rises and shines in you

I will repent

You are my reason for being

In you I am HOME.

-L.B.

David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center

Detail of family

WE SPEAK EACH OTHER


I want my home with the cypress wild

Clinging to the edge of cliffs

With grief-scrabbled talons,

Roots seizing stone.

The battle to survive is all.

Winds and rain come,

Come hard and swift and relentless.

It’s the season for storms.

How does the cypress stand?

How do twisted limbs prevail?

When morning breaks

—and break it shall—

Will home be as I remembered?

Will the cypress ever whisper of me?

-Jax

Mable Bassett Correctional Center

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

Until we meet again

I will promise to be the best mother I can be

and make you proud of me.

Until we meet again I will walk around and sing to you

like I used to when you were inside of me.

Until we meet again

Mommy and Daddy will Celebrate July 29 every year

as if you were here.

Until we meet again

baby boy

the whole world is going to know about you.

Until we meet again

I will cherish every day you were growing inside of me

and the 19 hours of labor pain.

Until we meet again

I will never forget

the two hours they gave me to share with you .

Until we meet again

baby boy

you will always have a special place in my heart

and just know

Mommy can’t wait

until we meet again

-J.H.

David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center  

THIS CAGE


There are many times I look up and stare at the moon

From a cage that doesn’t bring much joy

To see the moon through closed windows and locked doors

Fills my heart with turmoil and dread

Yet I hope you are looking up

From this cage I wonder what life has in store

Will we be lovers? Will we be friends?

Have you moved on to another, forgetting the last four years?

Will you believe in God as I do now,

Or blame him for your misfortune?

These are the things I must wait to find out,

Until I leave this cage and

Become free again to dance in the moonlight

Unencumbered by walls

Either way I’ll understand

Because I found myself, my courage, and my strength

In this cage 


-S.M.

David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center  

I CAN HEAR


I can hear you at birth

I can hear you coming home from school

I can hear you when you graduate

And now that you are gone

I can still hear you

-Isabel Garcia

Mable Bassett Correctional Center

LONGING-THE ABSENCE OF AWE


The void of wonder

The becoming of longing

The chasm of a shapeless loss

Painfully shifting—settling

Undefinable

Undeniable

Where there was once a portrait of innocence—

Like children splashing in life’s fountain

Now there is only the spidery shadow of emptiness

The Absence of Awe

A hibernation of the unquenched soul

The cooling lava of a lonely lover

The only thing left is the quiet anxiety

Of what might have been

-Angela Cicone

Mable Bassett Correctional Center

FREE


Cool rain sizzles

On sunbaked concrete

Sending up

The humid essence of dirt

Clean skin smiling

Up at the onset of a downpour

A thunder-crack echoes

Through my subconscious

Calling me

To remember my feet

Where to place them

And pick up the pace

Angry clouds

Blown by an indifferent wind

Roil above

Daring me to remain

Underneath—beckoning that

I should dance

Any way

I remember

-Angelina Cicone

Mable Bassett Correctional Center

THE BEGINNING OF MY TIME


I feel like my entire life has been

dangerous to me

So my mother’s womb

is the safest place to be.

I can’t tell you what it was taste, smell,

Or feel like…

I can only imagine the sounds and the scenes

In the back of my mind.

Close to the sound of that heartbeat

Seems like the safest place to be

In my mother’s womb, just her

And God holding me.

I have never known a safe place

My entire life…

The beginning of my time.

-China K. Stephensen

Mable Bassett Correctional Center


ODE TO NEVEAH


The way you woke up with smiles and giggles

I miss your love, the way you lay close to my heart.

Even though you’re gone, nothing can tear us apart.

I’ll sing to you again. I do all I do, and I do all I can,

To make you proud to know

I am who I am, and it’s just for you.

My little bear, everything I needed,

Nothing can compare to what we share

Always in my heart, always on my mind.

Can’t wait to hold you again, in another place, in a perfect time.

-H.B.

David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center  

BARE

I am that aged oak

lightning-struck,

limbs damaged and lifeless—

my heart pulses on

year after year after year—

in a fallow field

struggling for survival

amongst the weeds and snakes

and whirling dust.

-Jax

Mable Bassett Correctional Center

GONE


The swinging bench

By the potted plants

Sits empty.

Sheets that once sang

Of seduction

Lie cold.

The air no longer filled

With laughter

Hangs stale.

My memory searches for

A glimpse of you

To no avail.

These are the catacombs are yesterday.

You are gone.

And so am I.

-Angela Cicone

Mable Bassett Correctional Center

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