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Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash

I never knew I had such a long shelf life.
Watching myself battle with expiration
is such a difficult war.

“Better seek God”, they say,” Maybe He can save you.”
What I need God for?

I was placed in hell for all these years!
“Only God can judge me”
But the American people have spoken.
Their judgment is Death By Decay.

A death penalty of Life With Out Parole (L.W.O.P),
their calculated fate for me.

A lethal injection of slowly falling apart and
breaking down into rotten pieces.
I must die aging from a teenager to
a hopeless old man.

Decades has passed while I wait to be return
to my family in the form of ashes.

This is not how I want to die.

A target of racism,
Schoolmates made fun of me.
“Ching-Chong Bing-Pong,
go back to your country Ding-Dong,
slanted eye gook!”

Walking the earth with no purpose.
Seeking acceptance, only to find rejection.
Bottled emotions full of anger, hate, and pure rage.
It rattled my brain,
exposing me to one poor choice to another.

During my path of destruction,
I had no regard towards human life.
With no compassion or empathy.
At nineteen I was a monster.
In cold-blood I murdered a man.

Fortunately, they locked me up.
Sadly, they threw away the key.
I deserve to die in prison is the sentence
struck down on me.
There is no way out when you’re given Life Without.

Please come look into my slanted eyes.
I am no longer infected by the childhood trauma
that used to rule my mind.
My heart values life, my soul is ashamed.

Please remember to be kind to one another.
Because life is too precious to ignore
the pain of another.

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.

Hoang My Ngo is a poet who writes to share his transformation. Ngo is incarcerated in California.