Tag Archives: student work wednesday

Student Work Wednesday

Found Poem: Inmate Handbook By B.

The officer is always right
Inmates will not fight
Privileges are not rights
Nothing is allowed on the light

Order in the facility
It is your responsibility
Pictures will not depict nudity
Inmates will not exert authority
Ask permission to shower in the dormitory.

“Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.” –from poets.org

Student Work Wednesday

I Am by Jacob D.

I am a loyal and humble person
I wonder if I’ll ever win at this game called life
I hear the harsh, loud, clink sound that chills  my nerves multiple times a day
I see all kinds of races and nations come together in harmony following the way
I want to break this cycle of insanity sooner than later
I am a loyal and humble person

I pretend these walls of containment don’t bother me
I feel more sincere about becoming the solution rather than the problem for the first time in my life
I worry that if I don’t change now I never will and my evil deeds will outweigh the good
I cry when I think of the people I’ve lost and the older I get the more I can’t stand this shit
I am a loyal and humble person

I understand God is good and he is not one to wheel and deal
I say if everyone believed as me no matter what circumstance they face they’d be free
I dream about walking out the front door as if I had a key
I try to strengthen my faith everyday and be an example
I hope life gets better because I try and for the first time I can say I deserve it
I am a loyal and humble person.

Student Work Wednesday

To whom it may concern by Jason B.

Sobriety seems a possibility.
Time does not heal all wounds,
it mostly deepens them.

Time does open the mind.
My time was always about selfish pleasures.
Now those pleasures are like daggers.
Constant reminders of an evil past.

Memories of you hurt the most.
Knowing what was lost is a hard pill to swallow.
Reality hurts most when sober.

My whole world crumbled in an instant.
Things lost that I will never get back.
All I have are memories now.
And memories of you hurt the most…

Student Work Wednesday

(The following is an excerpt from a larger, work-in-progress essay).

You Live and You Learn by Manny C.

I was born into a world that was falling apart in violence and crime. Some commit crimes for the thrill, some do it simply because they feel there is no way out. Money is the root of all evil.

In the city of Chicago, this is the reality for most family members. The youth find pleasure inside gang life. They refuse to live in poverty and quickly adapt to the fast life, fast money. This was/is the story of my life, until I finally listened to my new mentors that showed me a different perspective. My sudden dynamic experience being mentored was overwhelming.

I was born in the Norwegian Hospital and raised on Kedvale between North Avenue and Cortland. At the age of 8, I realized I lived in the borderline of two rival gangs. Groups by the dozens would stand under street lights late at night surrounded by girls and fancy cars. Shootouts would erupt out of gangways and alleys making everybody scatter like roaches. I would be watching from our third floor bedroom window with my brother that was 2 years older than me. We would try to make sense on who is doing what to who and why.

There were nights when we would be excited to see events like these. But there were days we wished they would just put the guns down. Countless times our block parties were cancelled due to gang violence.

I remember the day as if it was yesterday, the day I learned how to ride a bike. It was my 9th birthday, mid-June on a beautiful day. My dad bought me my first two-wheeled bicycle. I couldn’t wait to finish eating so I could go outside and show it off to my friends.

I remember my dad guiding me and telling me how to keep my balance. I felt his arm on my shoulder as he told me to go faster until I noticed he had removed his hand from me. I looked back and realized he stayed behind and I was riding this bike by myself. I felt like the coolest kid on the block with my black Huffy bike with pegs.

The block party was on full effect. My neighbor right then and there approached the fire hydrant with a big, red wrench. All the kids on the block knew what time it was. As my neighbor struggled to open the valve, every kid stopped what they were doing and ran towards the water that began blasting out. The water from the hydrant formed a small rainbow in the mist.

Down the block, the latest Cumbia song started playing on full volume. The older teens got in the middle of the street and started dancing to the rhythm. It didn’t take long for one of them to pull me off my Huffy bike to make me dance. At nine years old I didn’t know how to dance, but I sure acted like I knew what I was doing; shaking my tail side to side, one step, two step. Emily laughed with me and encouraged me to keep going while she showed off her moves. Emily was 16 years old and she was my next door neighbor. I had the biggest crush on her ever since I met her. I loved it when she would call me her “lil man.”

As I danced with her I heard a bird call…all of a sudden, I saw a masked man run out of a gangway. He started letting rounds off towards Cortland where three guys started running for cover. Emily covered me with her body as she carried me off the street as fast as she could. One thing I knew for sure was that one of my family members was involved in this constant battle for this neighborhood.

Yet again, another perfect day ruined. Why did it have to be on my birthday?

Unfortunately, I had eight uncles that were gang related. It was normal for me to have their company; I felt secured. One tragic day I lost one of my uncles to gang violence. This forced my parents to leave the city for the sake of my two little sisters, my older brother, and me. But it was too late for me.

By eighth grade, I carried on my uncle’s ways. I smoked and caused trouble in the neighborhood with my friends. I bought my first car at age 15; all drug money. My parents didn’t have a clue I had so much. They were just proud I had such tremendous grades in school.

I always believed the weed was the key to my success to my grades. Math and science were my best subjects. I actually found astronomy and formulas quite fascinating. I mastered a couple formulas by simply putting two and two together. This made everything else mathematically simple. And curiosity took the best of me in biology. It blew my mind how small I am compared to how big the universe is. I needed to know more; I was hungry for knowledge. But once that bell rang, it was back to the streets…

Student Work Wednesday

What Would Be a Great Ability? by Smiley


Would you just use it to not be seen? Or would it be more of a mental thing? Would you use it to free yourself from a trap? Or would you use it to hide yourself from all of life’s crap? Would you use it to be the greatest robber? Or would you use it to help another? Would you use it to hide the way you look? To hide the beauty that someone else mistook?


Would you use it for all the knowledge to gain? Or would you use it to keep all the inferior people slain? Would you use it to achieve a greater career? To become a person that everybody would fear? Would you use it to better yourself? Or would you use it to help someone else? Would you use it to overcome the intellectual barrier that no one has surpassed? Or would you use it to just be someone that is remembered from the past?


Would you like to be the one that gains it in jail wearing shackles? Or would you gain it by overcoming some of your physical obstacles? Would you use it to become one of the greatest superheroes? Or you just want it, so when you’re seen, the expression is “eeeeeeh bro?!” Would you be able to help humanity with the weight that’s pushing us down? Or are you just going to be the person, that when it’s needed, it’s never around? Would you use it to push yourself to actually become? Or are you gonna be the person that people say “he just misused it he’s just dumb?!”


Would you use it to reach your limit, which some people say is the sky? Or you just need it to hide yourself in unreachable altitude so no one would see you cry? This is a very special ability, what’s your purpose for it, I need to know why. If I didn’t give you this ability would you just give up and not even try?

Without an ability, you would be just like me, but realize that there is a possibility. That’s what’s wrong with humanity, we don’t open up our eyes and see that the options are endless, there is an infinity.

So let me ask you one more time: What would be a great ability?

To help you reach all your dreams, to help you realize, you do have a future…that is something I foresee.