incarceration (buried alive)

by Your Homework

This poem was written by a young man of color that is currently caged by the modernized slave labor system---the prison industrial complex. This poem was written to honor the journey of all incarcerated people and to begin a conversation with the humans currently caged inside the “belly of the best.” The very existence of this poem is subversive! It highlights known and unknown process of dehumanization and at the same time is a powerful cathartic healing piece.

We don’t wanna hear about your cousin that was locked up

No, you do not know how it is

No, we do not wanna hear about your weekend stay for your D.U.I

Put your hand down

You will not understand by watching the movies “American Me” and “Felon”

Nor the television series “Prison Break”

You cannot learn this on a blog or by creating one

You will not learn how it is by countless hours googling

You will not understand by befriending a convict and being charitable

Tribute to a con?


You will not fully understand by taking a college course on the history of prisons


You will not understand by interviewing a prisoner

For all the answers may be camouflaged

A whole world hidden within a smile

Hidden within not giving a fuck

You will notice that we make this look easy, don’t we?

Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see

You would only understand if you were here


Living it first hand

Other than that, you would only be taking an educated guess

Or an uneducated one

However, either way it would remain just that

A guess

We are not projects

We are not a survey

I am an ese

But I am not an essay

Are you here to create a pie graph out of me?

Am I just a number?

A statistic?

no? Oh, I see

I’m just a “primary source” then

Well, where do we start?

Where do we begin?

The chicken or the egg?

Did prisons make the streets or did the streets make the prisons?

How is what we “deserve”


This society

These laws

Mistakes and punishments


I am aware this is currently my domain

But ok, here we go

The months, the bars

The years, the scars

The depression, the tears

The anxiety, the fears

The whispers, the screams

Split families and broken dreams

The unanswered collect calls and shattered memories

The riots, the solitude

The unattended funerals

The missed birthdays

The anger, the hate

The guilt, the blame

The word “VOID” tattooed over names

Nothing to looz but our dignity

Or nothing to looz but our chains?

The guard towers, the gunshots

The harassment and threats from the cops

The shadows, the demons

The excuses, the reasons

The soups, the hunger

The stabbings, the beatings

The alarms, the silence

The wilas, the violence

The letters

The scent of perfume on the letters

The upside down stamps

The “Dear John” letters

The ripped letters

The no letters

Life is supposed to be getting better

Isn’t it

The dominos, the card games, the chess

The cause, the grain, the ignorance

The gangs, the politics

The rumors, the gossip

The headaches, the bullshit




All the strip searches

The PTSD, the 115’s

The shared needles, the Hepatitis C

Seems like some just don’t wanna go home

Nothing else to live for, afraid of the unknown

The art of seeing without looking, minding your own

Letting the hours blur, sippin on some pruno

The sign language, the voices

The “cut throats’, the choices

The manipulation, the lies

The lost souls, the look in their eyes

The tension, the contradictions

No one to listen, the intensified racism

The not holding on, the letting go

Another 30 days thrown in the hole

The adrenalin, the pride and your ego

The grudges, the hostility

Out there, your concept of time is viewed differently

The rutina, the push-ups

The burpies, the pull-ups

Doin the time and not letting time do us

So don’t mind us, we’re just here to get buff and tough

Running around the track

Jogging a few laps

Looking over our shoulder

Always watching your back

The prayers, the wishes

The bitterness, the stress

The same repetitive stories bout booty, guns and meth

The green-dots, the drops

The locks in the socks

In here, you’re either with the business or you’re not

The gambling, the debts

The principles of respect

The jealousy, the greed

The envy, the deceit

The clanking of cell doors

The jingling of keys

What we consider defeats

What we consider victories

The insomnia, the restless nights

The pain in my chest, missing my wife

But I’m outta sight outta mind, right?

The reflecting and the questioning of life

In a world where every piece of metal is more precious than gold and will be turned into a knife

And in the end, we are supposed to wear all this like a badge of honor, like we survived

But how many of us spend more time dead than we actually do alive

The ignoring, the emptiness

The forgetting, the nothingness

And after this

Then what?


Deported? The feds?

Out 3 months just to come back again?

Who wins?

Do you really wanna be a friend?

What will happen once we hit that gate?

What will happen to us before?

Is life what you make it?

Or is freedom how you take it?

The effects of modern slavery

Some how, some way, we are human


That are discouraged

Kicked once we’re down

Stabbed in the back


We anticipate being forgotten about

And often are


We know any warmth given to us from the outside can be here one day and gone the next

Where is our parachute? Where is our safety net?

We are given absolutely no guarantees

Any support is only temporary

And most of us are only temporary human

In a place where caring is dangerous

And could lead to your demise

Our heartbeats become slower until frozen

A place where trust is only an illusion

The only person that cares about you is you

Our hearts become harder than rocks

Psychology upon psychology mixed with more psychology

How will you chart the suffering?

That I’m expected to accept

Am I supposed to be comfortable here?

Layers amongst layers to this nightmare of ours

That which we call reality

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the field

Our battlefield

We are at war

At war with the system

At war with each other

At war within our selves

We are at war with our own thoughts and actions

Feuding with our feelings

What little we have left of them

Until we are numb

Gutted out, ripped apart and hollow

Some break, some don’t

But we exist

If you can even call it that


They say, some people just aren’t designed for this


But ask yourself

How those of us are?

We breathe by accident

Not knowing if its gonna be our last

There are those who are unfortunate not to have a release date from this Hell

And those of us who do

But anything can happen here at any given second that pushes that date further back

That light at the end of the tunnel dwindling away

Circumstances that may push that date back forever

Permanently outta reach

Out there, there has been few that advocate for us

They have good intensions and they say we are not monsters

But all I can say is

Not all of us come in as monsters

And I can’t say

All of us don’t leave as them

You can all blend into the world of the “free”

Because you are

Until you’re not

The same way “conscious” white people within the movement,

The struggle

Can quit and give up

And integrate back into white American society

At any given moment

When convenient

When the going gets tough

Or when the going gets bored

“White Privilege”

Out there, weather you realize it or not, are all in a prison

In here, weather we realize it or not are in a prison within a prison

One which you are free of

But we are going to coin what you all have as

‘Free Privilege”

We can’t say that you all are simply “privileged”

Nor simply “free”

For we all live in a territory that thrives of capitalism

Capitalism is not privilege

It is a poison

An infection, that exploits and oppresses

That gives birth and reason to maintain

My home away from home

The Prison Industrial Complex

Legitimate capitalism

And illegitimate capitalism alike

Death and destruction

Who are you?

What do you think you are doing?

What are you doing?

Prepare to be entertained

Or disgusted

Perhaps a little of both

Intriguing specimens we are

Welcome to my humble establishment

Our labyrinth

Enter at you own risk


Written by Your Homework 10-7-14


Your Homework


                                                          contributor 2016 second edition


Your Homework, is a young man of color like a hundred thousand others currently caged in a penitentiary.