Finally Letting Go

By Tyresha Brand

Friends of Guest House, Spoken Word class, January 12, 2022

When I close my eyes at night

I dream of letting go of the pain

I dream of letting go of the hurt

I dream of letting go of the shame


Like mini movies across my mind

I see my life as it was

constant trials & tribulations

yearning for a simple hug


I see myself as a speck,

merely existing in this world

asking why these things are happening to me

for I am only a little girl


then to movie fast forwards to the present

and I see the woman I have become

and I can hold my head up and smile

because satan you haven’t won


now my visions are visions

of prosperity, happiness, and success

and I can give my past a proper funeral

and lay it all to rest


cause i’ve grown and i’ve blossomed

and i’ve finally made it through

and i’ve learned a few lessons along the way

like to thy own self be true


now those dreams have turned into reality

and I can finally let go

of the hurt, the shame, and the pain

with plenty of room to grow


I refuse to allow my past to make me bitter

or let it define me

cause my past is just that, my past

and I am finally free.



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!


The Women of Friends of Guest House, October 2018

I gave him a dollar.

He gave me coins.


She rushed in to the house and tore off her scrubs.

Eight minutes later she was ready for dinner – heels, purse, little black dress.


Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses, pleads Miss Liberty.

Children to the right. Parent to the left. Your will be reunited after the hearing.


The smell of grandma’s ginger cookies.

The smell of potatoes, dumped from the cardboard box into boiling water.


He was captivated by me and endlessly fascinated.

He turns coldly away, ice leaving small entrails behind him.


The more things change the more they stay the same I’m told.

Change constantly repeating itself, like six-second gifs.

I want change on my terms.

My brain can change.

My body cannot.

My relationships can change, exactly as I dictate.

The world can change, but only if we become kinder, more compassionate, and committed to justice.

Otherwise things must stay the same.

I am still young.


By Sasha Carlisle 

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


Never thought I would be grateful for jail – but –

What can I say?

I clearly see how I’ve failed

I recognize my mistakes

My life got knocc’d [knocked] off the rails

I’ve learned to channel my rage

There’s no missteps in my rage

It’s my time to be in this place

Meditation has brought growth

I finally love myself

Nature’s displaying her motions

She labors in my cell

Silence followed the storm – like –

The tropics I’ll rebuild

So I write what I know

The vision is mine to sell

Opportunity’s what I feel

Exactly where I stand

I now find it daily

Since I’ve lost all I’ve planned

My horizon at my feet

My mirage in my hands

In deserts souls deplete

Gotta move through the sand

My oasis is my work

I’d suffer if I’d sleep

Through the streets I would lurk

I’d starve and I’d feast

At least I didn’t get merked

Although I sowed what I reaped

God revealed the jerk

I no longer will be

Once this winter is over

And I stop this hibernating

The grizzly’s gonna emerge

The world’s mine for the taking

Through faith I endure

I’ll make up these days I’ve been wasting

My eyes are filled with vigor

Patience gained from frustration

Through this all we keep advancing

We will pass Satan’s tests

Been to Hell and beyond – shout out –

The homies out west

Incidental circumstances

Prove to me that I’m blessed

Considering how it could’ve gone

My life’s been its best!


Marc Williams 

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


Started off social wasn’t really drinking like

Turned into a habit

Now I gotta have it

You saw you was my weakness

But you ain’t take advantage

I’ll slow sip your love and let it work its magic

I left my first addiction and ran to you

And for a minute I was juggling between the two

But your intoxacation was so strong

I felt like with you

I could do

No wrong

At my weakest point you made me feel so strong

But now you are so gone

And I’m on my own

All in my zone truly yours

My precious patron

Now let me get inside it was just me and you

I’ll drink you all night I’ll be sweatin’ when I’m through

See that’s just what you do

Put me on another level

You cater to a man make a nigga feel special

That’s why I never left you and I never would

I had a lot of problems and you always understood

And when I went to jail you waited till I got out

I took you straight to the crib and drunk you all

Through the house

Out now hmmm…

You are so gone

And I am on my own

Truly yours my precious patron

Now time rolled forward you got a lil older

I started to notice you got a lil colder

I would shrug it off like maybe I’m just tripping

Give you a lil minute then I’m right back to sipping

I was Ray Charles boo I couldn’t see the ending

You found another sipper but he don’t drink you same

He mix up with cranberry he a real lame

You say he different and I don’t wanna change

I guess all the drinking just clouded up my brain

Cuz now you are so gone

And I am on my own

Truly yours my precious patron

And sometimes I still reference you in my discussions

You left my mind stuck like a million concussions

And sometimes I hate you just for being

Wishing you was gone and I could continue breathing

Then I get to thinking like am I still in love with

You and wonder if that’s the meaning

But hey my thoughts twisted and I guess I’m still

A dreamer yes I’m still a believer

Pray for peace but keep a nina

Keep it shaking like a seizure

Tried hard to please ya

And my feelings still strong

But now I know you never know what you got till

It’s gone