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A purple-cast evening sky is filled with moving stars, a composite of several long exposure photographs.
Photo by Mike Lewinski on Unsplash

I told myself,
Once upon a time,
That my purpose
Is to help
With math and rhymes
Interest picks up.
My magnetic field draws,
And gravity holds,
Like a cup,
Needing to warm their flaws.

I told myself
That someday,
Some way,
Everyone else.
This is not a display.
I read that a man
Cannot have
Two hearts,
That my soul demands
One force
For my broken parts.

I told myself
My work
Is not for others
Seeking wealth beyond health
And camaraderie,
Sisters, brothers.
So I focus in,
To my crumbling form
As I see
Successful minds
Use my geomagnetic storms.

I told myself
I would fix me
Given the chance
As if by stealth
Found a home
On my ranch.
Now it feels wrong,
Like I’m wasting
My time,
If I help
Myself too long
With math and rhymes.

I wrote this poem because I came to realize that I spent my entire life putting other opinions, other ideas, other lives before my own. I am coming to realize that it is not wrong to make sure I’m OK. I say this to say it is OK to make sure you’re OK, too. This is your life! You have the power to make your life better. You have the choice.

I remember my loved ones telling me that if I kept telling myself that I didn’t matter, I would start to believe it. They were right! So start telling yourself that you are a good person and worthy of a life of peace and love. Stay strong!

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.

George Coles-El is a poet, writer, graffiti artist and tutor. He writes under the pen name Mesro Dhu Rafa’a, which means “stand with the sun, master of the ascendants.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, he completed an anthology of writings called "Unsung Hero." He is incarcerated in California.