I Cry

By Anthony Talbert 

First place, poetry, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021


Some cry when things seem to whirl wind out of control

Or cry when they want to be held,

But there’s no one to hold.

Growing up I was told that the eyes are the windows to

The soul.

So I cry to cleanse my soul of all the torment it


I cry for that man doing time because another man told.

I cry for that bronze complexioned sister who doesn’t

Realize that her body is gold.

..I cry..

I cry for the victims of nine-eleven.

And I cry for those Bishops, Priests, and Reverends who just can’t

To keep their hands off of those little boys who are

Nine, ten and eleven.

I cry for the homeless who endure winter nights.

And I cry for those who refuse to walk with their heads

Held high because they are afraid of heights.

I cry for those who are looked over because of a felony


Or those of you battling addiction,

Or that abused child who is scarred with afflictions.

I cry for that bastard handing out a million years all because

He’s in a position

To judge.

But one day he too will be judged.

I even cry for that gay population who is judged.

And I cry for Jesus because,

Not only did he cry, but

He died because he was judged.

I cry for you because I was once you.

A man who is too cool to cry for me too.

The Last Cryptid

The Last Cryptid

by Trulynd W. Hall

Third place, Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

 “Is he dead?” the boy in a green tracksuit asks.

“Poke him with a stick again.” The girl with fiery red hair says while standing a safe distance away from the possibly dead body. The boy grabs a nearby twig and before he prods the lanky man stuck in the mud.

”Jay wait!” She exclaims. “What if he’s dead?”

“Jesse that’s what we’re trying to find out!” Jay tiredly expressed. Jay turns back to the body about to poke it.

“OK here goes.” He shakes his arms ready for the body’s reaction.

“Joy wait!” Jesse adds again. “What if…”

“Jesse please! Do you want me to poke it or not?” Joy asks while turning to Jesse. Only to find her now pale and pointing behind him. Jay made a guess to the reality behind his back. If it wasn’t a supposedly dead man walking it was way worse.

Jay nervously starts to turn around and witnesses the tall lanky body stand upright.

“He’s alive!” Jesse screams while flailing her arms in the air. The man didn’t look right, his proportions are out of place. Arms too long, legs too short and a particularly slim head. His left arm was twisted in the wrong direction as well.

“Are you OK?” chattered from Jay’s mouth. The man glances around before noticing his broken arm. He reaches for his arm.

“Stop it’s broken!” Jesse shouted in worry. Before her next sympathetic plea could release, the man grabs his arm and readjust it back in place with a loud snap in the process. The kids went and shuddered at the sight and sound.

“Hello?” Jay whimpered while backing away. Finally the man met their frames in his sight. His recently broken arm swings up and the kids flinch at the idea he was going to attack. Instead he reaches the back of his head and scratches the back of his shaggy hair. His baggy eyes meet theirs.

“Who are you brats?” he muttered.

“Brats!” Jesse shouts. “We found you lying in a ditch! Thought you were dead.! Jay let’s go! Never should have helped him!”

“You wanted to poke him, actually wanted ME to poke him,” Jay sarcastically added. Jesse gives him a glare that could cook bacon. The man interrupted the theatrics of the kids.

“It’s not safe here. Go home, he said while diving in his pockets. Jesse was about to add another angry retort but almost as if the man already knew her response, he cuts her off.

“No arguing, there’s something dangerous lurking in these woods.” He replies after pulling an object out of his dirty pants.

“Jay we’re outta here!  We don’t need to help some smelly old guy!” Jesse proceeds to stomp away. J fixates on the man’s hand which was now holding a yoyo.

“Jay let’s go!!” She shouts, already a few paces ahead of him. But Jay couldn’t look away, he felt like something amazing would happen in the next few moments.

“Jay Parker Williams!” Jesse voice yells from a distance. He hated when she used his full name. Jay turned around to berate her use of his middle name. That’s when it happened. As his back was turned a thunderous explosion boomed from behind him. The sound was loud enough to lift the kids a few inches in the air. Once again Jay looked at Jesse pointing with an even paler face them before.

“Jay. Don’t move.” Jesse mouthed. “Stay still.” Jay felt a breathy air behind him. His knees started to wobble and teeth chattered. He then heard a low growl right next to his ear. There was something behind him, something big and possibly hungry. A familiar voice yells sharply.

“Run it’s Bigfoot!” The lanky man starts while prepping his yo-yo. Jay finally glances back and sees the bigger than a bear, wilder than an ape creature looming over him. The man reiterates his command.

“Run!” He pleas to Jay.

“Hey! Hey! Over here smelly!” Jessie shouts waving her arms, attempting to look big. Bigfoot’s attention flies to her. Jesse frozen in fear attempts to flee but only manages to stumble to her feet. Jay in a hurry to save Jesse tosses rocks at the beast. The man from afar takes this chance a[nd] hurls the yoyo at Bigfoot. The rope was too long, yards long. It wraps around the beast leg stumbling it.

“Catch the yo-yo!” He shouts to at Jay. “Toss it around Bigfoot you two.” He added. The duo play catch with a yo-yo until Bigfoot was entangled in what seemed to be miles of rope. Bigfoot falls to the ground with a loud smash accompanied.

“Good job team!” The man gave a thumbs up.

“Team? Jesse snorted, waving her finger at his face.

“Is that really Bigfoot?” Jay asked, killing the argument. The man nodded. Jay’s eyes lit up!

“Cryptids are real?” Jay jumped gleefully, while Jesse rolled her eyes. The man makes a small smirk.

“Want to see?”

Be Strong Black Man Don’t Cry

Be Strong Black Man Don’t Cry

by VE

Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020

Be strong Black man don’t cry. So I’m forced to wear this mask and mask my pain. How much more can I take when it seems as if every other day I along with the rest of the world watches yet another unarmed Black man die at the hands of law enforcement.

While deep down inside I feel ostracized, unloved, unwanted, affraid and perplexed. As a Black man in America it seems as if I don’t even have the right to be vexed, they’ll be quick to say there goes another angry Black man behaving savagely.

Society puts obstacles in the way of Black people such as police brutality, job discrimination, discriminatory practices which inhibits us from acquiring home loans and business loans in our desperate attempt to acquiring financial freedom, slavery, lynchings, voter discrimination, redlining, food deserts in our neighborhoods depriving us of fresh produce, healthy and nutritional foods as we suffer the aftermath of the disparities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, weak immune systems, clogged arteries, heart disease, strokes, matriculating into the corona virus ravishing through the Black community with fatality rates as high as 75% to 80% within the Black community.

Though we make up minute minority of the United States at only 13% society puts all these obsticals in the way of Black People then turn around and criticize us when we don’t rise above it.

When Trump said “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” That broke my already severed heart. But then again who am I kidding he was only perpetuating his deeminor and rhetoric fueled with violence, hate, racism and discrimination that we as the American body have endured throughout his presidency for the past three and a half years.

On the other hand concerning the mass protests that have been proliferated throughout the United States and eighteen other foriegn countries and counting.

As the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. I am overcome with a sense of hope seeing thousands of our Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian Brothers and Sisters Standing in Solidarity with us. Thank you for finally being empathetic to our pain, trauma, and grief.

God intended for us to be alleys to each other not enemies. God created the human race with 46 chromosomes with 23 dominant and recessive allelies not Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian race. God said in Malachi 2 verse 10 “Have we all not one Father?” “Has not one God created us?” “Why do we deal treacherously with one another?” “By profaning the covenant of the Fathers.”

Studies have proven that since 2014 over one thousand Black men and women are killed consecutively each year at the hands of law enforcement. Studies have also proven that one in every one thousand Black men and women are subjected to die at the hands of law enforcement each year for the past six years since 2014.

They say slavery has been abolished but yet they still use the hanous tactics that were used on our enslaved ancestors only 155 years ago on us till this day.

It is 2020 but approximately six Black men have been lynced in California, Texas, and New York. What’s even more disturbing is that their deaths were ruled as a suicide with no foul play.

I can in no way phathom that any Black man would commit suicide by hanging themselves on a tree knowing the history of Black people being lynched in the United States.

When I was a boy in my country Cameroon West Africa I dreamed of living the American dream only to come to America and continuously watch this dream have the propentency to be shattered, dragged off and washed away everytime that I see another unarmed Black man’s lifeless body be driven off the scene DOA, DNR, dead on arrival, do not resistate and watch his blood be washed away as I watch the American Dream that was never intended to be mine or anyone who looks like me.

At that very moment symbolically and metaphorically the American Dream be washed away with our blood on these streets.

Be strong Black man don’t cry.

I’m a strong Black man but sometimes theirs nothing left for me to do but cry.

Sharing our Poetry with Voices Unbarred and The Justice Arts Coalition

We created a little magic with Voices Unbarred and The Justice Arts Coalition! First, allow us to introduce our friends: Voices Unbarred is a nonprofit theater company whose actors were all once incarcerated. Lori Pitts created this amazing nonprofit, and will perform double duty in January as their founder and as the Artistic Director of the Ally Theatre Company. In October and November of 2021, Voices Unbarred actors read and performed at events hosted by The Justice Arts Coalition, run by the amazing Wendy Jason, throughout greater Washington.

We were thrilled when we contacted Lori and she asked us to send some of our favorite poems for the Voices Unbarred actors to read. It was hard to choose among all of the great poetry on our site, and eventually we sent “I Cry“, “Tough Love,” and “Untitled” – all prize winners written by authors from the Alexandria Adult Detention Center and the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Lori was gracious enough to share these photos with us, and we want to share them with you.

On the left, actors perform during the “We Belong Here: Reclaiming Space through Art” event on October 24 at Rhizome DC.

On the right, Lori and four Voices Unbarred actors strike a pose during The Justice Arts Coalition’s “Incarceration and Creation: Art as a Human Need” on November 6 at the Sandy Spring Museum.

This is not the last time you will hear from us working together to help the formerly and currently incarcerated be heard…stay tuned!