Photo by Joel Mott on Unsplash

I may be your neighbor,
Or work as a caterer.
I might serve your food,
Or fix your hairdo.
I am a taxpayer,
And may be a bricklayer.

There are some occupations,
That reject my persuasions.
A job application,
Comes with consternation.
Mention a background check,
My heart hits the deck.

All that I ask,
Is to give me a chance.
My mistakes of the past,
Were treated with an iron cast.
Time has given me skills,
And has strengthened my will.

I will prove my worth,
As I embark on new turf.
I feel like an outcast,
How long will this last?

As I live in your community,
I yearn for the unity.
What you see is the real me,
Living with a felony.

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.

Shon Pernice

Shon Pernice is a contributing writer, a veteran and a Kansas City native, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a combat medic and came home with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. He has been published in Veterans Voices, The Beat Within and Military Magazine, and he is a contributing author to the book, "Helping Ourselves By Helping Others: An Incarcerated Men's Survival Guide." He is incarcerated in Missouri.