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Photo by Gerold Hinzen on Unsplash

Be greater than the walls that pen you in.
Always dream bigger than you deserve to.
Respect the spirit of those who sacrificed it all
So you could have the privilege of being human.

Fellow Have-Nots & Low-Lifes: I too have hurt others
As well as myself and those lacerations
Will outlive us. Like the blade or the barrel
Everything we’ve ever handled with care — or haven’t.
Countless cages prove forgiveness is a solitary endeavor
But the real path to freedom winds through others.
Follow it until your eyes shine back at you.

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.

P.M. Dunne is a PEN America Writing for Justice Fellow. Read his work at or see it performed on