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Photo by Mitchell Koot on Unsplash

It’s easy to look back at my life
And pinpoint where things took a bad turn
But the younger me had a gun in his hand
And no father figure
with time to burn

Opportunities and chances both taken for granted
Preferring bars and many scars
Instead of jobs I could’ve landed

I chose this path
Ignorant to any alternative
Never listened to my mother
And the good advice she always had to give

Advice on life, on love, and struggle
Asking always of God
To keep her son out of trouble

These choices I’ve made
Were always mine to decide
Not considering the hurt I was causing
Ignoring my conscious in favor of my pride

That pride in everything street
Always hanging in the hood
Never trying to miss a beat

Thinking myself ahead of the game
When I pulled that trigger
And caused that pain

Analyzing my worst imperfections
Can do me no harm
As they’re only reflections

Note from the author: This was one of my most enjoyable poems to write, hands down. Sitting here serving out my prison term, I cannot help but to reflect on my past and present, all the while dreaming of a good future — out of prison. Reflections really hits home for me because I am a firm believer in learning from my past so as to not regress to my old self.

Being able to sit here today, sober, and with a positive mind, I am mentally fit to look back and examine all of the wrong turns that I have made in life. And on that same token I am also able to look back at all of the people who extended a helping hand my way. From friends, neighbors, co-workers, to those most important in my life, my family.

All the damage in my life that I have self-inflicted can no longer do me any harm. That is why I enjoy looking through my “mental rearview mirror”: to compare and contrast the old Fabian with the new one. Reflecting on my bad choices in life does not have to end with said choices, but with the person that I turned out to be.

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.

Fabian Garcia is a poet who uses writing to express his feelings and share his story. His first poetry book is expected to be published in January 2022. He is incarcerated in California.