Photo by Niklas Herrmann on Unsplash

I’m from projects and brownstones
staircases and stoops
where junkies and wisemen speak their truths
from the same corners and sometimes mouth too
I’m from no resemblance and various degrees of tolerance
confused by which family tree my fruit dangles
faces are unreflecting mirrors due to reasons of distance.
yet if I had a dollar for every “You look just like your Mom!”
I could finally pay for those “’J’s” I was never brave enough to ask for
I’m from Dad’s secret spaghetti sauce and Nature Mom’s conscious menus
Aunt Gail’s prohibited pies furtively enjoyed
I’m from a silent Entenmann’s war whose body was broken
and divided by the ravenous like Eucharist
Cap’n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch were the holy trinity
I’m from an Illmatic, enter the Wu-Tang and Reasonable Doubt enisle rising out
of a James Brown, Funkadelic and Earth, Wind and Fire ether
from young Black geniuses proved their merit in freestyles
in subway cars as Columbia scholars deigned and White women clutched their purses
I’m from where girls and ‘ball were sports you played to win
yet both laid claim to my heart
where NYPD transformed Black recruits into honorary crackers
unleashed to engage in Black-on-Black violence with a Zimmerman impunity
that’s where I’m from

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Caed Brawner

Caed Brawner is a writer and poet from Brooklyn, NY. He is an artist, leader, teacher, philosopher, avid reader and athlete. He has completed numerous programs including studies with Toastmasters International, where he is a certified competent communicator. Caed was invited to participate on the committee to develop the curriculum for a re-entry program at Liberty Correctional Institution in Florida, where he is incarcerated.