Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

I’ve lived my life in poverty,
Born a pauper’s son.
No treasures found,
No fortunes won.
Honors come not
To my family crest,
Neither medals nor ribbons
Adorn this chest.
There are no shiny trophies
Upon the mantle perched abreast.
Absent are etched plaques
Declaring me to be The Best.
I have won no accolades
From valued peers.
No applause, no cheers.
Awarded no certificates
By educated colleagues in tears
(And although I’ve managed to earn
A degree in heartache and failure)
The tuition has been paid for
By regret in wasted years.
My citizenship I forfeited,
With both malice and forethought,
On the night my senseless crime spree ended
And I was caught.
Now I’m lost in a system
Where virtue is neither learned nor taught,
And chaos reigns supreme;
Every vice is bartered and bought.
I’m surrounded by stony faces,
Filled with vacant eyes.
Trapped inside my own selfish desires,
Awaiting a final demise.
The vivid memories of truth lurk always near,
In the dark shadows masked in white lies,
Where my only esteem comes from
A shame cloaked in pride’s disguise.
My name is my number,
505215 the sign on my door.
I’ve been cursed to drift from
Cell to cell but never touching shore.
I will never again be a person,
Or the individual I was before.
One letter, five digits —
I am this, and nothing more.

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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Travis Britt

Travis Britt is a poet who has been writing since he was a teenager. A devout Christian, Travis is enrolled in International Christian College and Seminary’s master’s program for pastoral ministry and theology. He is incarcerated in California.