Photo by Bram Kunnen on Unsplash

How many times have I been here?
In the same space leaving a trace
Of an identity after these many years,
Again and again.

Twenty-three
Still learning to identify with this
But miss the meaning of what it is
To be free inside this place I’ve gotten myself in,
Again and again.

My children, two.
One I don’t know, have never seen,
The other I know
I fainted on the hospital floor
As her head entered the world I abandoned her
Three months later.
How many times have I been here?
Again and again.

The same routine of
Count time, meal time, movement,
Take it in!
Yard terminated, day-room terminated
You’re still alive, waiting,
For the day I will be terminated
While still trying to live
A life worthy of life itself.

Where those who know me can say
something nice,
That maybe I’ve brought something
Of value to this world
We live in
Trying to change it for the better
That the lie lost was not for naught,
Even as it was a heinous act of execution.
Leave another’s child without,
As I left mine without.

What about this makes sense?
None of it.
How much time do I deserve?
All of it.
How much more can I do?
Some of it.

In the end
I wish for none of it,
Again and again.

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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Jeffrey Shockley

Jeffrey Shockley is a PJP contributing writer incarcerated in Pennsylvania.