Poems from Children of Incarcerated Parents

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by Allison, Project Avary

Nothing is easy.

Driving hours to see him for two.

Having to say goodbye.

Not getting to say I love you back because his time ran out. 

Not knowing what’s going on or why he’s stuck in this place with these scary people.

Moving from house to house because there is no father to support our family.

Having dinner without him.

Celebrating birthdays without him.

Him not being there to watch us graduate.

There is all this stuff that was not easy for me as a child of an incarcerated parent.

But you think it was easy for him?

Having to live with the guilt.

Having to be locked up in a cell.

Having to explain to his young children why he is where he is.

Having to spend holidays without his children.

Having to share his space with other people.

Having to always be ready to protect his self.

Having only a certain amount of time to call his children.

Having to look at your children behind a glass.

Having a limited amount of time outside.

Not being able to touch your children.

Nothing is easy.

I Want My Daddy Back

by: Leslie Mateos from POPS the Club

I want my daddy back

That’s all I ask for.

To see him again 

Hug him again.

Have him with me.

It’s been ten years and no sign of him

No calls from him


Because he was deported after being in prison

They took him away from me.

He’s scared of crossing the border.

He’s scared of prison.

Will he ever come back?

I want my daddy back.

He’s the only one missing in the pictures.

I’ve culminated from elementary

I’ve culminated from middle school

I’ve graduated from high school

And I am determined to graduate from college  

But will he be there? 

Will he finally be in the picture?

I want my daddy back.

by: Zudaydah Rivera

Incarceration is the

Separation And Isolation of families,

which leads to the

interrogation of visitors that imposes the humiliation and Defamation of their characterization.

I’m not the one who is punished - but your assassination

of my dignity

when I go through the detector,

Makes me feel lesser,

all cause I have a loved one behind bars-

You take this too far

Check my background

Check my pockets,

Am I dressed right?

Did I violate

Your code

Of ethics?

this is just your method

To make sure we all see

What prison life really means.


tell one

tell all

How the incarcerated affects us all

We the people

are not at all

Equal as you all recall

Separation and segregation

We’re not united in this nation.

I visited my dad..

couldn’t sit on his lap

CO gave my dad a tap

That’s enough of that

Couldn’t give my dad an embrace

Without a CO all up in our my face

4 years old I would never see

my dad be there for me

I was an orphan

just like Annie

Hard knock life for us

I used to ride the joint connection bus

From Newark to Trenton, NJ

State prison to see my daddy


Rafael Luciano, I am his daughter

Forever grateful

Never shameful

My maker

My strength

Comes from he

I am him and he is me..

Society can’t make me hate you

These laws are made to break you

And me apart

Because our skin is tan and dark

But I won’t let them make me think

Less of you daddy

Forever and ever you are father

I will cherish you like no other

They took you away from me

To make me struggle

To make our legacy buckle

As long as I’m conscience I will speak

Of all the injustice done to thee

It’s not right

It’s not fair

I’m 40 and you’re still in there.

As long as I live

I will always be

Daddy’s lil girl to my daddy...

Dear Mama

by: Jennifer Birstein from POPS The Club

Dear Mama,
I got to see you before Christmas and you are finally out
I hope it stays that way and you don’t go wondering about
I hope you get a job and stay on your grind
Just remember you’re always on my mind
Even though you’ve caused so much pain in my past
I hope this time you’re out and it lasts
You look weaker every time I see you
I hope you stay sober and true to your word
“I’ve changed. I’m not going back, baby, you heard me?”
Yes, I heard you, but it’s actions that matter, not what you say
‘Cause last time you said that you were back in jail the next day
Maybe God’s finally going to answer our prayers
Now that I think about it, 15 years without my mom wasn’t fair
But it was all for a reason
That’s what my dad says, but I don’t believe him
Anyway, I love you and I hope you stay in the clear
And make 2018 a better year.

Last Name
by: Anthony

One of many
But the son of one
I was meant to stand out
But I’m more closed in 
There’s few funes’ out here
So when people ask for my
last name
I bet they look it up on the internet…
And I wonder what might come up… hmm… That’s 
Sarcasm of course I know my father will
Convicted felon, a criminal, a terrorist…
They will say what they want 
About him 
But I am a reflection of him & mother
When I’m angry I do 
Stupid things
Stuff I wouldn’t do if I was thinking 
I take responsibility for 
Nobody’s perfect
But we strive to be a lot of 
My last name I don’t know
A lot about it I just know that its mine
That my first name is his 
Middle name & Ant is 
Also in my older brother’s name

by: Oluwademilade O. Ogunlade

Hashtag black lives matter
Fists up for Trayvon Martin’s hoodie
Fists up for Sandra Bland’s right
Fists up for Oscar Grant’s begging
Fists up for Philando Castle’s license
Fists up for Jamar Clark’s life
Fists up for Stephen Tooson’s SUV
Fists up for Matthew Ajibade’s bipolarity
Fists up for Calvon Reid’s cardiac arrest
Fists up for Natsaha Mckenna’s mental issue
Fists up for Deontre Dorsey’s seizure
Fists up for Tony Robinson’s friends
Fists up for Bernard Moore’s store run
Fists up for Askari Roberts’ alleged paranoia
Fists up for Nicholas Thomas’ job
Fists up for Philip White’s unconsciousness
Fists up for Donald “Dontay” Ivy’s heart condition
Fists up for the lying as well as the crying
Fists up for the depression as well as the oppression
Fists up for sadness as well as the madness

Fists up for the discrete discretion forcing obliviousness upon police possession side by side with solicit succession and there’s an uncommon confession that this the second great depression and that these are solicited times of increasing aggression.

See we all contributed to the concrete collision which was necessary in order to make a delightful decision that has solidified our unified position that should be able to grant us our actual admissions within this corrupt land and their unappreciative way of diminishing our ambition.

I'm in the kitchen cooking up permission to absolutely annihilate the ill mission that's aiming to emotionally assault my people and put them in physical mal condition.

Some way, somehow we have to audition to be an addition, well i speak loud and clear and i am saying NO as you all feed us this sense of competition as a source of ammunition, we refuse the offer to benefit your transition.

You’ve congested the people’s chest, and in regards to their feelings, you’ve suppressed them. As some of my people pass and some fail the test, we all remain together in unfortunate distress, as our creativity stays under arrest.
The second they threatened our blessings, our will power began to lessen. I am here to deliver the weapon of the oppressed, the obsessed and the deadened.

The people who want to see progression, the ones who practice their profession, and the ones who strive for impression.

To put my fists up in honor and glory of my people’s succession and their way of directed and undirected expression.

Rooted in God and womanhood I’m like a tree
Cause I give and give but then who gives to me?
A lot of y’all wear glasses but you still can’t see
So I manifest at last that whether easy or hard, my people WILL be free

I, Olu Ogunlade will put my fist up and hereby take great pleasure in awarding you all in the name of prestige, recognition, and eminence, for we shall be shameless, and continue to obtain our never said greatness.

So I say their names. George Floyd. Kalief Browder. Tamir Rice. Sean Reed. Eric Garner. Breonna Taylor. Jamel Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castile. Kendrick Johnson. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Mike Brown. Sean Bell. Tony Robinson. Matthew Ajibade. Askari Roberts. Patrick Dorismond. Natasha McKenna. Antwon Rose II. Laquan McDonald. Oscar Grant Jamar Clark. Nakia Crawford. And to all my other black lives, we are warring for your bodies.

The constitution says WE the people, but I say let’s BE the people.

My people no longer yearn to survive, we want to LIVE and then we want to thrive.