Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

Do I fear going home?

As the end nears,
I wonder about all that is to come.
Though I’ve been there before,
after so many years away
it is now a foreign place.
Though I’ve known the people all my life,
after so many years away
they are now strangers.
I’m overtaken by feelings of not knowing.
Do I fear going home?

I speak to my friends
who have made it to the other side,
and they share their dreads.
Haunted with daily questions
that leave them paralyzed.
They ask themselves:
Do they know my past?
Should I be filled with shame?
Is their judgment upon me?
What are they saying?
Why are they staring?

For me, self reflection.
At night, in the dark I often ponder.
Do I fear going home?

In the end you think of the beginning.
The goal was simple.
Just make it through.
Home is waiting.
The days are fast,
the nights are slow,
and the years still pass.
Conflicted!
Time flies in the blink of an eye,
yet it feels slower than the longest winter’s night.
I made it.
Still I fear not getting home.

I strive and I fight.
With tightly shut eyes,
in my thoughts I’m consumed by darkness.
Will they know my past?
Will shame overcome me?
Will their judgment engulf me?
Will their words sting,
and their eyes pierce through me?

At night, in the dark I often ponder.
This foreign place, filled with strangers.
Is it still my home?
Will I make it?
After so many years,
the end is only the beginning,
and still I wonder:

Do I fear going home?

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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Joel Negrón

Joel Negrón is a Puerto Rican writer with an associate and bachelor’s degree. He aspires to earn a master’s degree and work in the social justice field when he is released. He has been incarcerated in New Jersey since the mid-2000s.