The Lives of Women Behind Bars (Pt. 7): Poetry


The Lives of Women Behind Bars (Pt. 7):  Poetry

By Jennifer (Taycheedah Correctional) (WI)
By Victoria (Womens Huron Valley) (MI)
Forward By Christopher (Madison Correcional) (OH)


One of my favorite poems is the masterwork titled “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde. Wilde was a prisoner at H.M. Prison, in Reading, Berkshire England in 1896. He wrote about the day to day struggles of Victorian prison life and the horrors he witnessed. Despite time a distance separating us modern day prisoners from his words, we can relate in many ways to the horrors and despair he witnessed.

The experience of incarceration is universal. It’s timeless.

The vilest deeds like poison weeds,
Bloom well in prison-air,
It is only what is good in man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

—Oscar Wilde (1896)—

Wilde realized early on that through writing he could cope with his time. Like prisoners everywhere, he discovered he could release the thoughts haunting him. This blog is my way of coping with my time.

For Jennifer and Victoria, these poems represent a timeless cycle of struggle and redemption we prisoners experience. I know it all to well, and I can relate to what they’ve written, if nothing but for the fact that we three share a common life situation.



By Jennifer (Taycheedah Correctional) (WI)

I look out my window and see a fence,
On top of that fence is razor wire.
They say I’m a menace to society,
I need to be locked up and forgotten about,
So society will be safe.
Who is that razor wire really protecting?
You from me,
Or me from you?
I feel the safest I’ve felt in a long time.
That razor wire keeps me safe from him.
I no longer walk on eggshells,
Waiting for the next bout of verbal abuse,
Or physical abuse.
I don’t have to look over my shoulder here.
I’m allowed to be me here.
I’m free here.
That razor wire is not to keep you safe,
It’s to keep me safe.
He can’t hurt me here.


My Life
By Victoria (Womens Huron Valley) (MI)

As I lie on my bunk
In this concrete cell,
I look back on my life
That’s been through hell,
and I wonder why
I never wanted to live,
When I have everything to offer
But nothing to give
Now I sit here and look
at my life that’s gone by,
With so much regret
and so much lost time.
Is there any way I can change
and make a new start
From the beginning this time,
with a brand new heart,
From all the years I’ve wasted
and the tears I’ve cried,
That have torn up my soul
and left me empty inside.
Can anyone help me
To ease all this pain?
Take away all my sadness
and refocus my brain
To look at the good,
and not only see the bad–
To see what I’ve got
and not just what I had–
To live for the future
and not in the past,
For a new life
of happiness at last.

The Change

By Victoria (Womens Huron Valley) (MI)

I sit here with time to think,
behind these prison walls.
For the crimes I have committed,
are the cause of my downfall.
But I do not blame others,
as I’m the only one,
that I’m in this prison, for the
wrongs that I have done.
I want to say I’m sorry,
to all I did offend.
But there are so many,
the list may never end.
So I ask for God’s forgiveness,                                                                                             and to change the way I am.
Because if he is with me,
I know I really can.
And I have made a promise,
that I will try to keep.
That I will believe in Jesus, and
with faith, I’ll take that leap.
So I will try to talk the talk the
way He used to do, and I will
try to walk the walk that
Jesus wants me to.
I will be with my father
and to Heaven I will go.


One thought on “The Lives of Women Behind Bars (Pt. 7): Poetry

  1. For Victoria, “My Life” & “The Change” are beautiful poems. Your strength shines despite the adversity you have had to overcome.💙

    For Jennifer, “Razor Wire” hits very close to home…grab ahold of the freedom you deserve. Strength in your willingness to refuse to be a victim any longer. 💙

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