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Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

I don’t have enough skin on my knees to pray for my enemies.
I haven’t been to church since Easter Sunday.
I don’t wanna hear no preacher speak.
I don’t think I can turn the other cheek.
I searched deep and way down low.
I can’t find no fire in my soul. 

Father, I know I can’t mislead you.
Father, I know I only pray when I need you.
I feel like a baby abandoned in the Nile.
A baby abandoned, I can’t seem to smile.

A first born son struck dead by a plague, with blood on my doorstep, a rag on my head.
A servant of the people, suffering ills of a nation.
I broke several commandments because of temptation.

I’m scared of these visions around me.
I wear a mask just to face my reality.
I run the streets.
I try to sleep with every woman I meet.
I’m mad at the world,
because I’m not what I want to be…
I’m  young. I’m  Black. I have a felony.

Most of my life I’ve walked alone.
I never had no place I could call a home. 
I never felt connected to anyone.
I don’t feel the warmth from the sun. 
I can’t lift my chin,
in this valley of dying men,
at least, until  I drink about a fifth of gin.
I can’t depend on family,
my parents left me,
my destiny might as well be savagery.
In the belly of this beast,
any day could be the last for me.

I’m at this point where I just feel numb.
I’m at a point where I want to be a thug!
I’ve reached the point where I want to do drugs!
I’ve reached the point where I can’t feel love! 

Everyday I wake up, time is  running out.
I can’t figure out what this world is all about.
I contemplate suicidal ways to get paid. 
I stay chasing pleasure, I’m always trying to get laid.
I don’t know what to believe in.
There’s so much I don’t understand.
I no longer believe in such a thing called friends.
The places I’ve been have exhausted my zen. 
I’ve reached a breaking point.
I  reached my end. 

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.
And now I’m in prison.
They’ve  locked  me in. 


This is part of a collection of poetry written in early 2000. It provides a window into the  nihilistic thinking that  was part of  my evolutionary journey to manhood. 

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.

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Steve Brooks

Steve Brooks is a writer for Prison Journalism Project and San Quentin News, a newspaper published out of San Quentin State Prison in California where he is incarcerated. He has been published in the San Francisco Public Press, Street Spirit, All of Us or None and Voice of Witness. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and won a 2020 Journalism Excellence Award by SPJ's Northern California chapter for two of his columns in PJP. Steve has completed two college degrees in liberal arts and social and behavioral sciences and plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in sociology.