Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

I am who I am
Not who I was
Loved by many
Cared for by few
I lost so much love
so I say this to you

I was three days old
With a brain damaged so bad
I was incubator bound
No mom and no dad

I grew up very quiet
Afraid to speak up
I didn’t agree
No, so I just shut up

I was touched as a baby
So sick, now they say
back then, though
The culture
Turned and looked away

At 5 I was molested
Every day of the week
Someone else came at 7
Took virginity from me

I ran to the streets
When I was 13
Had gotten expelled
For being honest about me

I’m gay, I admitted
I told the truth
so because I was honest
I was kicked out of school

Found my way to a girl
Who took me in
For the first time was loved
But was having a kid

over 7 months later
I was about to pop
But my baby daddy was a rapist
And mom said NO — STOP

Gave me a pill
That stole my sons life
The day he was killed
It cut me like knives

Bravery Airik-Marii would have
Been 15 this next year
Instead I’m in prison
And he ain’t been here

I killed my mother
I admit it was not fair
I really did love her

I grew up in juvie
Was beat in youth authority
Went to mental health systems
Grew up after this story

Now I am working
Every day as I go
To be the best I can
But don’t do it for show

I don’t talk about
What I do
I just go day to day
Be good to me and to you

To be the role model
I needed back then
Pray for my mom
and my birth mom, both of them

I pray for my friends
Who died in a broken system
Suicide and pain
Was so hard brought wisdom

I learned from their losses
To just be myself
And now I’m an author
With degrees on my shelf

I want me a future
One of calm truth
To be happy and healthy
No longer abused

No longer feared
To be kind and find love
I sing this, I cheer
So pray for me up above!

You are my reader
My friend and confidante
So go be a leader
And learn from this song!

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.

Heather D’Aoust is a nonbinary writer, artist and author of two books, who also publishes under the pen name Jeff-Free. A practicing Buddhist, D'Aoust is incarcerated in California.