Poetry Behind Bars

Poetry Behind Bars

The following poems are written by individuals incarcerated in Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California. Some of the authors are poetry and drama students from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) put on by Agustin Lira and Patricia Wells Solorzano. We invite you to receive with open hearts and minds the poetry of Jackie Henderson and Antonio Smith.

We Thank You

You gave us the courage to speak our hearts,

An avenue to voice our freedoms,

And to yell our fears to the Most High.

Because of you, I am free (so is Anthony).

Hold your head up high

And do not cry.

You sat amoungst warriors

And we sat in the presence of war chiefs,

Two four star generals,

Who I will respect until “I” run hell’s army.

I bow before you, Patricia.

I salute you, Augustine.

Show the world who you created,

Once murderers and drug dealers.

Now Euros of verbal voodoo…

Poets who celebrate being rehabilitated.

When I look into the sky

I see the sassiness of your word play.

When the wind blows to the East,

I hear the roar of Zapataaaaaaa by Augustine

And my chills turn to scales of armor…

I am ready for battle, my general.

You were not terminated.

You were liberated.

Your spirit lives in the souls you touched.

The vengeance in my heart is bigger than the abyss

But My god will handle those who oppose… my generals.

For your fight

For you love

For your passion

For your very spirit…

We thank you and we love you

Jackie Henderson aka Kakamia Jahad Imarisha and Anthony “Goofy” Moreno

We raise a fist in solidarity to you.

P.S. Patricia, your father’s legacy… the strength of his daughter

Election 2016

How long will California be blind?

I can and do agree with prison for those unsympathetic,

Those who choose not to change, etc…

Now for those with addiction and mental health issues,

this is a revolving door.

When will we stop supporting this,

consenting to cruel and unusual punishment?

I ask before you vote,

Please look at the individual closely.

Ask yourself if it were I.


I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again.

I’ve got earth, wind, water, and fire,

who need flesh as a friend.

Don’t look at me as though I can’t cope.

F.T.W. as I’ve never needed dope.

Deep lies my secrets,

as cold and emotionlessness call.

If I may welcome you to hell,

And my name, alcohol.

You don’t know pain, loss, and lies.

With a smile on my face,

I can bring tears to your eyes.

I’ve survived accidents to keep you close,

Gunshot wounds and stabs,

Let’s have a toast.

Humans are my insects

who don’t know pain.

My world of darkness, anger and hate

is where it all began.

I will put you through a detox.

You will always recall,

I’m the beginning and the end of hell.

Many call me: Alcohol.


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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