A tangle of above-ground roots at the base of a tree trunk
Photo by rishi on Unsplash

I must go back to the roots of it all.
What has me the way I am —
my character,
my morals,
my criteria,
and perception of my life?
Between kindergarten and 3rd grade
I’d already lived a full life, mentally.
Introduced to the gang era,
becoming a victim of gun violence,
forced to see both grandmothers in caskets 12 months apart.
The start of my neglect, abuse, torture, verbal abuse and belittlement
by the hands of my own mother.
I was the overseer of my younger siblings.
And her personal kid maid.
I was violent, foulmouthed,
hustling paper food stamps,
on my way to becoming a professional thief,
and a womanizer in training.
All compacted in a 36-month time frame.
I dismantled and reconstructed the notion that it all
was supposed to be a bad experience.
If you have no purpose or passion,
or feel you’re not here for a journey or to
complete a mission,
keep soul-searching.
But start at the beginning.
Because these are the roots of who I am.

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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E.D.H.

E.D.H. is a poet who was raised in Compton in Los Angeles. He is currently incarcerated in California. He has asked to be published under his pen name.