From Da Bronx to D.M.V.

Jeffrey Melendez

 Third place, Nonfiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility writing contest, August 2021

I can still hear Da Bronx and smell the Bronx. It’s his own world. Very different very unique very alive in spirit, in culture. All different types of races, ethnics, different flags hanging from windows, Puerto Rican, Nigerian, Cuban, Dominican, Jamaican, Ethiopian. We all from different countries but we stick together here in America, here in the Bronx. If we can make it in New York City, we can make it anywhere. I’m proud that I was born there.  I still hear police sirens, honking horns in morning traffic different languages Chinese Swahili Spanish.

I hear car alarms going off and ambulance too. People screaming inside the Yankees stadium. I hear Mr. Softee ice cream truck. I can’t forget I hear the A, B and D train. Music playing through thru windows speakers blaring Salsa, Rap, Merengue, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Soka, Bachata, Danie Hull. The fire hydrant popped because it’s hot that’s all. White man pull-up in the white vans, asking for papers. Pops working late to put food on the table.

You see me I ain’t have the same luxuries I have 2 grandmothers in different countries. I’m a first generation born American I can’t say I’m going to grandmoms today she 2,000 miles away.  In the Bronx I can hear families argue about eviction notice. From High Bridge, Kings Bridge, 3rd Ave. Big Brother telling Little Brother don’t be a loser be a winner.

Moms going to a corrupt church the pastor is the biggest sinner. Moms cooking food, gun shots go-off her son ain’t coming home for dinner. In the corner smells of delicious Jamaican food, curry chicken, coco bread, and beef patties and in the other corner Giovannis Italian Pizza up the block, the Chinese spot. Down the block Dominican restaurant fry plantain with everything delicious. Never mind that half the buildings are rat and roach infested, Black and Brown around here we got Big money invested. We unite U.N.I.T.Y Latinos, African Americans, East Africans, West Africans. We all learn from each other different foods, dances, languages.

This is the Bronx. We are stars. On the rooftops we look up we don’t see stars. We see Police Helicopters and the Goodyear Blimp above the New York Yankees stadium. Shout out my Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, Hondurans, Haitians, Dominicans, Nigerians, Trinidadians, Asian, and Italians. The good men doing time in Rikers Island. People taking meds in the Asylum. My young youth in the street wilding. No matter where I go I represent where I’m from (The Bronx) I’m from DA B.X.

Love Letter

By Peter Le

Third place winner, nonfiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021

Hey Babe. So I have been thinking recently. What is love? After r-evaluating everything, I am more than certain I do want to be with you no matter what. I have always loved you and that will never stop. You are my first love and best friend. Things like that wouldn’t change overnight.  So I will embrace my love for you and work through our problems and differences.

When I first got locked up, I didn’t want to hold you back. I wanted you to be free and happy, but you wanted to hold me down. That’s what love is, so I respected your decision to bear my pain wit me and loved you even more for it. We first thought that I would be home in a few years, but that all changed when you go locked up 2 months after me. It hurts me more than you will ever know. I wanted you snitch on me so they would let you go, but you refused. You don’t deserve any of this. You are innocent, but the Feds thought otherwise. The think you know everything because you are my wife. So they pressured you many times and made you cry. That made me cry too. You told me not to cry and be strong. I hated myself for hurting you.  Sometimes I still do. My mistakes haunt me. It is my fault that the Feds involved you. As our case developed, our relationship struggled. We started to question ourselves and our future. How strong was our commitment to each other? We still wanted to be together, however, and held on.

We wrote letters and passed each other notes whenever we could, but maybe that wasn’t enough.  Our lives were already drifting apart and I didn’t want to accept it. I couldn’t have. I’ve lost everything already, but you and my family. I could not afford to lose anything else. Eventually, I was indicted with more charges and you were sentenced to 3 ½ years. Our faith in each other started to break. Hope was bleak and only our past was concrete. You resented me and I accepted that. It is my fault for your incarceration. I failed to protect you when you trusted me. You were mad and did what you wanted. You stopped writing me and wrote other guys instead. You flirted and entertained them. Maybe you did it out of spite or maybe you enjoyed to. I was hurt and felt betrayed, but at the end of the day it was justifiable. I couldn’t resent you for that. I am the reason you are alone and suffering. Maybe you thought I didn’t love you anymore or maybe it was too much to love me. It didn’t seem likely anymore that I was coming home after a few years. You never ended things between us. You only said that you would write me when you can because it was getting complicated to send letters. Even if you were cheating on me, I couldn’t stop loving you. If it made you feel better, shouldn’t I find consolation in that? It was difficult and I was confused. After a few days of heartbreak, I forgave you and found my peace. Even though you never told me about the other guys, I don’t hold that against you. In our hearts, I know that we still love each other.

I am writing this because it is inevitable. I am sending it to you now because the sooner I address it, the better. I’ve waited and waited, but you never wrote me. But I knew I had to be the one to write you first. When you responded back and said you were doing well in prison, I was just happy and overwhelmed to get a letter from you. It’s been over a year since we’ve wrote each other, but not a day has gone by that you weren’t on my mind.

I was reading this book and it reminded me of what love was. It was a sign and I had to let you know how I feel. I love you and married you. You are the person I chose. Through thick and thin and for better or for worse. I signed up for this and will support you whether you are wrong or right. If I can’t handle you at your worst, then I don’t deserve you at your best. Because I love you, I respect your wishes. Whether you want to or not, I will always love you and wish you the best. That is just what love is. So yes, I really do love you.

Sincerely,

Your best friend

Dispised & Rejected

by S. Amir Farrakhan

Nonfiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021

More than 38 of my 58 years have been survived in America’s notorious prison industrial complex, commencing from the time I was 12 years old a man. An only child, I was raised by an unwed strong take no sh_ _ type of woman, whom had a very heavy hand, that was employed all to often.

I actually hated my mother, more so because of her disciplinary enforcement. I did not get spankings, I got Kunta Kentaed (the main character of the movie Roots). However, although she beat me like I was a hebrew slave, she was an excellent provider. I’ve never known hunger, had my own room, new clothing & an abundance of games & toys, I even had my own T.V.

As tradition would have it, I’ve not known the face of my biological father. He was a soldier in “ol massa’s army,” whom wanted my mother to move to Chicago & she declined & so he went on his merry way, never sending me even a can of milk. I did however see a photo of him that my mom has.

But this behavior is a common idiosyncrasy that veils Black humanity in Amerikkka & affects all of the descendants of those sacred Souls that were compelled to this land of the free, in the belly of slave ships, like the Jesus of Lebeck among many that set sail through the middle passage.

It was a common practice of ol massa to abduct the infant from its mother & sell off the father to sire children on other plantations after impregnating all the other “heifers,” as he called the Blackwoman. And there is a word that I don’t recall, but it appellates a condition of the mind that’s brought on when an experience is so atrocious, it’s engrossed in & passed down one’s bloodline from generation to generation. I believe this has a direct bearing on the Blackmale in his ability to impregnate women & keep it moving as if the child is solely the responsibility of the mother.

However, Allah did place a very beautiful man in my mother’s life, who was with her before my birth & other than Allah, is the only Father I know & is still in my corner til this day & loves me hard. And I was raised right, he only spanked me once with a cloth belt & my mother made him do that. So why have I spent more than half my life in a prison cage? Guess what? It had nothing to do with my rearing.

The so-called educated amongst us, the “educated negros” taught in the schools & universities of our open enemies, teach us that our quality of life depends on the choices we make, not revealing that choice can be manipulated, because the mind can be manipulated & controled to a great extent if not utmost.

It’s not by chance that Black folk make up only 11% of these United States, yet better than 40% of its prison system. This implies that we, the original people of the earth, the builders of the great pyramid & the greatest civilizations & whom are renowned as the Master builders & mimicked in the masonic lodges by those who enslaved us, are prone to crime. And what’s sad is that many of our own kin take the position that we are. But remember that they are educated & trained by ol massa. It’s even worse when you find those that ol massa has made into himself. During antebullem, this breed of Blacks were referred to by their peers as “House Niggers” & they have no pride nor shame. In fact, they are examples of the manipulated & controlled mind & exist right now today.

A good example is in “corrections” or law enforcement. My grandmother was amongst those Blacks that marched, got beat with clubs & sprayed with water hoses & had flesh eating dogs sicced on them, as they protested for Blacks to be given jobs in law enforcement, to ensure that we would be protected, treated justly & fairly while in jails & prisons. However most of them hired could not have gotten that notice. But there are a very small few, whom are not under subjugation of the badge they proudly wear over their most precious organ, (the heart). Its image is a tyrant, (hermaphrodite) standing on a vanquished Black king. This is the concept, the foundation of this state & it’s fed to every employee in subtle increments, (Sic Semper Tyrannis) this is the aim & purpose of this state Virginia. Look up the word tyrant, & you’ll see what we are under (overt oppression) enforced by the now children of the slaves, “remarkabal!”

I grew up in near abject segregation, programed by white supremacy at every angle, in school the book they started us on was titled, The Little White House about a Caucasian family with a dog named Flip whom said, “Bow wow,” On T.V. the only serious character that looked like me was Bill Cosby who played a Black spy for ol massa. Black folk in this era were still trying to assert themselves, & in the hood there was not alot of positive influences. People for the most part were as Marvin Gay sang, “Trying to get over.”

I fell victim to the gangster shows on T.V. & whole heartedly embraced Al Capone. I wanted to be like him, thus I was fascinated with guns & crime of which is prevalent in poorer hoods & easily accessible, (which is all by design). So the only heros I had who looked like me where I grew up were the athletes & hoodlums & I had my choice made for me by circumstances & conditions which chose for me. The sure rout[e] was crime.

The conditions in & of any community can be & are manipulated. When institutions of employment, businesses, commerce, etc. are removed from a community, a chasm of depletion is created & what follows is poverty which changes the orientation of the mind, making it more susceptible to sugestion, especially subliminal, which is done through music & vision, esp. television “programing.” So when one is put in a sink or swim situation is there really a choice being offered, better yet, if I tell one that I’m going to kill you, pick which gun, a 357 or 44. Is that really a choice? And out of said conditions which imposed on my thinking, boredom sets in, then depression & I turned to older guys in my hood whom fed that chasm with criminal ideas & thus I began my “so-called gangster.”

As a result, reformatories & prisons have been a major part of my life, of which has taken a heavy toll on my mother’s & caused me to be absent in my own children’s lives, so there has been a snowball effect. But what it has done is brung my mother & me closer. Since 1994 she’s been the greatest mother & my very best friend.

However, it’s no secret that we, the Blackman, woman & child are an endangered species, we are not equal citizens in this country & white folk demonstrate this each second, we are still oppressed, exploited & abused. Understand that citizens do not need civil rights, even those of my kind whom have been employed in his systems of government, to him & his constituents in & of the ruling class in & of the higher echelon of society, are merely “things” to be used to help him advance & to maintain control of the common folk not on his team.

This is too Black to win this contest. It might anger ol massa!

APIDTA

Stressfull Life

Cornelius Jones

Nonfiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility writing contest, August 2021

Growing up and living, being a black person can be hard and stressfull because nine times out of ten you get stereyotyped. Sometimes I find it hard to believe their are still racists people in the world.

Not liking a person for a specific reason is one thing but to hate a person for the color of their skin is outrageous to me. I never was the racist type. I myself have white friends. That’s like saying I hate white people because they inslaved my people.

I don’t understand why more white people are still and openly racists. Black people as a whole got over it so why can’t they? Nowadays a lot of people will say life is what you make it but I have met so many people who was booked up of the first crime they committed and either did jail time or labeled a felon or a criminal. A lot of times, to me it don’t make sense and I’m sure a lot of people would agree. The fact is there are more black people than whites incarcerated. Theirs no way around the truth.

Then you have racists police officers who swore an oath to protect and serve but ran racists gangs inside of the system who abuse authority. They are shooting and killing my brothers and sisters dead in the street. My people get locked up for anything instead of the help they need and I don’t think it’s right.

A lot of people don’t get the help they need until it’s to late and most of them are dead. Growing up I watched my brother die do to street violence and drug overdose because they had no guidance or help.

Going to jail doesn’t make it any better, its called being institutionalized. Jail causes stress and leads you downhill.

I know jail is for criminals but just because someone commits a crime doesn’t mean they are a criminal. Everyone makes mistakes plus the law is unfair. A lot of people who never been in jail are categorized as an inmate may read this and say of course jail isn’t fair coming from someone incarcerated but if the shoe where on the other foot I bet they would agree.

Growing up in a certain neighorhoods are most of the times is hard and can lead to a lot of trauma and stress.

Like watching your loved one die in front of you, fighting for your life, and even getting into street fights.

Hearing gunshots, getting shot is another example that can lead you down the wrong path to a stressfull life. I know because I lived it and I am currently at my breaking point. A lot of people also deal with being bullied, which can be worse in some situations, it can go beyond stress and lead to suicide.

I never had a person bully me but I was a quiet person you can say antisocial most of the time. I didn’t talk so people would test me a lot and press my buttons which gave me no choice but the defend myself

Bullys are a real thing in school, neighborhoods, jail, outside and even in work, professional environments. On top of what the average person deals with on a daily basis that can be stressful having to deal with bullies.

It’s a scientific fact that being bullied can cause stress [which] can shorten your life span.

I Use to Dream

R. Goss 

Second place, Nonfiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility writing contest, August 2021

As a child I have a very vivid imagination. My thoughts and dreams were clear pictures of everything from cowboys and Indians to moonwalks in outerspace, nothing wasn’t fun. With a little time and mental energy my brothers and I could defeat Dragons or swing through the jungle with Tarzan leading our way.

 

As our boyhoods left us we turned our thoughts to older exploits like who would get the first kiss, how would we make it through jr high, or was it possible to be the running back on the school football team?

 

Now that I’m a man wounded and scared by my hard life I’ve lossed the ability to recall old thoughts, play mind games like chess, or just find pleasure in remembrance of last nights dreams.

 

Age has brought me a long way, now that I’m here I’d give a fortune to return to the times when I could be anyone, go to any place, or just draw out my days activities based on last nights journeys.

 

Our minds are wonderful things we can use it to be the greatest of thinkers of plotter of heinous crimes. No child lays in there beds at night with ill thoughts hoping they’d come true. As adults we need to return to our boyhoods in remembrance of the kids who played with giants, flew with Eagles and swam with Dolphins.

 

Thats the minds we can use to live inside these old bodies on this Hard unimaginable cold world.

Girl Dad

Lewis Rose 

Nonfiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility writing contest, August 2021

She’s here born April 20,2008 weighing 8 ads 10 oz A beautiful little girl name Damariah Waller. If it was up to me she would have my last name, unfortunately at the time me in my daughter mother wasn’t in A great place, so by her giving my daughter he[r] last name she felt as though she was getting back at me, but that’s another story.

Damariah was born A beautiful healthy little girl at Fairfax Hospital, after spending 3 or 4 days in the hospital we were able to take my heart in human form home with us, the was probably the second best day of my life, the first best day of my life was when my daughter was born. The first couple of months of my daughter being home, I can admit it was hard, but with the help of all of the grandparents we managed to get by. Our parents took some leave from their jobs, in it was truly appreciated because without them I wouldn’t know where we would be, at the time when my daughter was born I was just starting my job with A construction company so I couldn’t take off so soon, but my supervisor was understanding because he was once in my shoes, so he started letting me get off early. Which was A blessing because not only could I take some pressure off of my daughter mother, but the grandparents as well, but most important I had time to bond with my daughter in get the hang of things with an infant, I also got to learn my daughter more, so I appreciate everything, in everybody that help me out with the transitioning of my daughter being born in the world.

My daughter has made me grow alot, in mature, now I understand what my parents went through raising me in my sister, because raising A child isn’t easy, and the saying time flies, it really does because before I knew it my daughter was starting Pre-School which was A task within itself but I loved every moment of it. She was still A kid., my kid but she was growing, and in a way it was scary, but these were the moments I cherished because as you sit there in reflect about how you can create something so small that looks exactly like you, it really is A gift from God, and how they evolve into being everything you’ve ever wanted while being themselves is A beautiful thing.

Damariah has grown to be quite the young lady, smart, talented, great personality, and beautiful, she’s the perfect child in my eyes. Damariah has been on the cheerleading team since the age 6, in she has also been on the dance team since the age 6, in she’s good at both of them, she has actually made the AAU team for both cheerleading in Dance. She enjoys dancing in cheering with her friends also, but most importantly we make sure her grades are right, in school work is done. And if she’s not cheering or dancing, she’s playing her DSS with her friends, she only has two game she plays Fortnite, or WWF Wrestling, which me in her mother don’t mind as long as her school work is completed. Damariah is A really good kid, and as she was about to graduate 4th grade in go into the 5th Grade, me in her sat down in had a talk in I told her that she was going to be a big sister, she always wanted a sister or brother, so when we had our talk she was very excited that she was going to have a little sister, she actually started suggesting baby names, in one day she came to me in said daddy can we name my little sister Destiny which I thought was the perfect name, because she chose a name that started with the letter D. Just like her name, and my middle name starts with the later as well which is DaJuan so it was perfect. So the morning of September 24, 2017 I sent Damaria off to school, in as soon as I back in the house I had to rush my soon to be wife to the hospital because her water broke, so while I was in the process of rushing to the hospital, I had to call my mom in fill her in on what was going on, and to have her pick Damariah up from school. Now I’m sitting here in the Labor room, the same place Damariah was born 9 yrs ago at Fairfax Hospital, waiting on the arrival of baby Destiny. Destiny was born at 5:26 pm weighting 7 pds 13 oz, looking exactly like Damariah in her father, I thought Damariah looked just like me but when Destiny was born she was a spitting image of me, it’s kinda of scary because when I look at both of my daughter, I looked exactly like the both of them when I was younger in my baby pics, and as I’m older seeing the both of my daughters grow from when I watched the both of them birthed we still look exactly alike. In the both of my daughters have me in the palm of their hand, they most definitely have the keys to my heart. When Damariah got to the hospital in seen her little sister, I think she was more happier than me that her sister was here, in I love the bond they share, she’s really playing the big sister role in you can tell she loves Destiny. My two hearts in Rare Form. Destiny tries to do everything she sees Damariah doing in if she can’t she will throw a fit, eery dance move her big sister does she tries to do it, it’s cute in funny at the same time, you have to see for yourself to actually know what I’m talking about.

At this current time Damariah is 13 going to the 8th grade, in Destiny is 3 about to turn 4 yrs old this September getting ready for Pre-School. I miss you guys so much that words can’t describe and I’m truly sorry for being away from you all this long. I promise it won’t happen again. I’ll see the both of you sooner than you think, but until then I Love you guys in stop giving mommy a hard time.