by Betsy Stewart
Poetry, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility/OAR writing contest, August 2021
I spent each day just searching for my purpose here in life
and still i could not find a reason to survive.
I struggled through my childhood without a loyal friend,
And every broken heart just [n]ever seemed to mend.
My parents didn’t have time to tell me they cared,
They never came to comfort me those nights when i was scared.
They told me to toughen up an’ don’t cry,
All i want to do is break down an’ just ask them why.
Soon my life fell apart,
All i wanted was there heart.
they couldn’t understand.
I turned to anything that could numb and bury all of my pain.
When my glass felt empty,
I’d fill it up again.
Over the years I drifted through many different towns.
Longing to find something to turn my life around.
I spent many nights alone, cold, hungry, and ashamed.
Desperate to find a warm place to stay.
As I lay on the concrete steps of a church to get some rest,
I felt the presence of someone gently kicking at my feet.
As i open my eyes a stranger stood and smiled.
I brought you something to drink
You’ve been sleeping for quite awhile.
He reached a sturdy hand to me an’ helped me to my feet.
I thanked him for his kindness an’ my heart began to weep.
This stranger gave me so much more than a drink to quench my thirst.
He taught me compassion and the value of self-worth.
From that day on, I grew to love those concrete steps much more.
For one day as I reached the top, I opened the door.
I held on to my tattered coat in hand and searched to find a pew.
I heard the voice of someone saying there is a seat right here for you.
For on that day my life began
an’ soon would understand
that even though i’ve made mistakes I was still worthy,
An’ this will always be my story.
This church Became my loyal friend,
the home I never knew!
I will always now have HOPE!
Tory R., Friends of Guest House, June 9, 2021
While I hate confined spaces
I love being outdoors
Music is my safe place
Silence is my killer
Being bored agonizes me
The feeling of loneliness fades
As love invades my life
Peak over the horizon
Sobriety has overtaken me
And darkness finally shatters
Hope overwhelms me for the first time
Failure is not an option now.
What is Your Vision of What Hope and Change Looks Like?
Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020
Do you hear me?
Am I loud enough or is my silence too profoundly compendous for you to bare?
Is it a sin that the hue of my skin is Black?
Is being Black a condemnation to death?
Why do you hate me so much?
They’ve deemed me a menace to society, they’ve even called me a super preditor, morally demonizing and dehumanizing me and those who look like me. I’ve been racially profiled, discriminated against, the justice system looks the other way when injustice is done to us.
The law claims that your innocent until proven guilty, but they obviously left out the part that says unless your Black. Do not be oblivious to the smoke screens and the propaganda. I’ve been asualted, I’ve had my nose and my lip busted on several occasions. I’ve been maced, tear gassed, tazored on my left collar bone which could have left me parallyzed. I’ve had to plead with law enforcement officers “please don’t shoot my brother” repeatedly. Thank God I was there because they would have killed my brother that night.
I was only 15 years old.
I’ve had law enforcement officers put their knees on the back of my neck as we’ve all seen being done to George Floyd obstructing air to my lungs on two different occasions in Toledo Ohio.
I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.
8 minutes and 43 seconds of pure evil fueled with hyperkinetic energy as we watch another unarmed Black man die at the hands of law enforcement. I’ve seen so many unarmed Black men die at the hands of law enforcement that I suffer from hyper vigilance and post traumatic slave disorder.
They say slavery has been abolished, but I beg the differ. The new Jim Crow, the prison industrial complex, systematic racism, racial profiling when will it all stop?
You can’t be free if the cost of being you is too high. To my black brothers and sisters, let that resonate for a minute. You can’t be free if the cost of being you is too high.
What is my vision of what hope and change looks like, to me is to become the hope and change that I would like to see.
My vision of what hope and change looks like is from being confined to a jail cell serving a two year sentence as of March 8th 2019 to being released early on October 2020 on good behavior accumulated through working eighteen months of the nineteen months that I spent incarcerated at Arlington County Detention Facility.
My vision of what hope and change looks like is leaving from this correctional instituition to picking up where I left off in school. Begining classes spring semester January of 2021 to graduation from UDCCC Sumla Cumlade with honors 3.75 GPA or higher. As a certified and licensed Aviation Maintenance Technician /Aircraft Machanic along with an Associates Degree.
My vision for hope and change is then transferring to the….Okalhoma University’s Aviation Mechanical Engineering Program fall of August 2022, thus applying and becoming a recipient of the Academic Excellence Transfer Shclorship which requires a 3.75 transfer GPA or higher. This will provide an $18,000 scholarship at $9,000 a year for two years.
My vision of what hope and change looks like is graduating from the….Okalhoma University with my Bachlors Degree as an Aviation Mechanical Engineer with a minor in Business Administration and a concentration in Aviation Management. Then furthering my education to acquiring my Master’s Degree.
Do you understand the inertia that I am ready exert towards my dreams, goals and aspirations? How dare I attempt to spark change in the world if I’m not willing to look from within and change myself. The greatest appology is changed behavior, to my mother I’m sorry.
I’ve changed once I’m released from incarceration in due time my actions will prove likewise. The preparation and experience most necessary for understanding and valuing a gift is experiencing its opposite.
“The body is the greatest canvas, and each day you have a chance to create how you wish to see yourself.” Caprianna Quan.
What do you do with your most prized possesions? You buy a safe and lock them up. God loves me so much that he locked me up, to realign my soul with his preeminate purpose in my life and the lives of others, so I could be a soldier in his army to spark the change the I want to see in humanity.
But first it must start with me. From the words of Henley the great philosopher “I am master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
My mentor the great Mrs. Watkins once said “Don’t chase love, money, or sucess. Become the best version of yourself and those things will chase you.”
I vow from here on out to live by that model.
In closing leaving you with luminosity the opposite of quandary. How do we bring good things into our lives?
The act of manifesting means dissolving beliefs that are holding us back while simultaneously aligning ourselves with the vibration of our desires. There’s a frequency to everything. So we can align with the energy of love mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
The key to happiness is having dreams, the key to success is achieving them.
What is my vision of what hope and change looks like? Here I stand before you Black and proud, King Vic I am a God from the continent of Africa Cameroon to be exact. Je ma pelle Victor. Je pallé Francé, le mere Madamaselle Hanna, le Pa Mesier Victor. Como sava? Sava bien. Como tallé voue? Je ney say qua?
God is a Greek word derived from the Ancient Aramic words “gumar”, “oz”, and “dubar” which means wisdom, strength and beauty. As the Honorable Minister Louis Farrkhan tells us “we have been turned backward. Instead of calling ourselves God we say, yo what’s up Dog?”
Always love a message of hope, especially when it is written by one of our clients! We promised Aimee’s poem will brighten your day!
Aimee Treakle (Friends of Guest House)