Monthly Archives: June 2011

Life and Death

This seventeen-year-old shares with her philosophy about and why we should life every moment of our lives to the fullest. In the few years of her life, she has lived many difficult experiences; abandonment, street life, physical abuse, violence, the death of her life partner in a shooting with the police and incarceration. She recognizes that life knocks you down, life is fragile, nothing is permanent and in one moment you can lose everything. She decided that she was going to life each moment like it was her last.

Life and Death

Life… it’s something so beautiful and marvelous that God has given us and continues giving every day.

Life is to be enjoyed to the fullest, but just as it is enjoyed it can be lost. We try to fill our lives with things that make us happy, but there are moments that are happy, sad and very hard. It’s difficult when you lose someone who you loved. In my case, I try to live my life to the fullest, live it like it was my last. Everything I do, I do with a smile on my face as if it were the last thing I did.

I don’t know what happens after death, and I don’t want to know. Life is like a cloud that is in the sky but in a few seconds is gone. Life can be lost in the blink of an eye. I have been knocked down so many times that sometimes I don’t know how to go on. It’s hard to experience so many problems when you are just a girl. Despite that, I try to leave the past behind me and continue on with my present and my future. Sometimes I think of how great my life is and despite of everything I’ve lived, I haven’t let it affect how I more forward. It’s fun to do bad things when you want to, but after come the consequences and you don’t like it so much anymore. Then you say: “it’s too late to turned my life around!”…But really, it’s not too late, because you still have your life and God gives you a new opportunity. It’s hard when you know that you have enemies that want to do you harm, and because of that you have to live your life, or better said, every second, minute and hour, to the fullest. Sometimes we say that we would like to turn back time and we can’t.

Better to lose a minute of your life than to lose your life in a minute. I have learned to value life every since I lost a loved one. Life leaves us and never comes back. You close your eyes and never wake up. You lie down and never get up. Life ends in eternal sleep. Why should I marry life if I end up married to death? But while I’m alive, I’m going to enjoy my life because once I’m far away from this life, I’ll sleep eternally…

Enjoy your life because you only have one!!


Solitude / Paying a Sentence That Wasn’t For Me

Published By: Olivia

     The following two poems were written by a very likeable young woman with a pretty smile and kind eyes who is popular among the girls.  According to her, she came to know the street only when she got to the center, where they gave her four years for a crime that she didn’t commit.  The first time I asked her how she was feeling, she answered that she felt neither good nor bad being in the center.

Nevertheless, when we begin to write, she let out really strong feelings that suggest just the opposite.  She describes her experience of solitude and the betrayal of a lie, explains how she has changed for the worse inside, and admits how she is doing time because of a greedy person.



Derek,* 15-years-old

Sometimes my best friend is solitude.
I begin to cry and think about all the bad things that have happened
and the good things too…
I feel in my heart an emptiness that can’t even be filled with love
And the lie is my worst enemy—
just knowing it, that lies exist.
In this place I feel like time goes more slowly and I feel like being in this place
Each morning I wake up asking that they give me the opportunity to leave this place
Here a person feels pressure and a big emptiness
Because you miss being with the people you love.

* this young woman decided to take an artistic name


Paying a Sentence That Wasn’t For Me

They corrupted me here
I didn’t know anything about gangs
I never disrespected older people, never said bad words
I was a goodie girl, before I didn’t mess around
When I got here I felt like the world was ending
I remember it like it was yesterday
I felt a really strong pain in my heart
Like i was never going to leave here
I’ve changed for the worse here
I’ve become rebellious
I have a short fuse
I feel like my heart has gotten harder
Because other people’s lives don’t matter to me, only my own
I’m pretty narcissistic
Before if only I had bread, I shared it with everyone, but these same girls have made me selfish,
because when I gave to them they were cool with me
but whey they had something they didn’t give to me.
It’s like that with all of them.
Here inside I hang out with girls from 18*
On the outside I’d like to, but at the same time not because
I know that being associated with the gang will only bring me to:
The prison, the hospital, or the cemetery.
I didn’t even have anything to do with it.
This chick they supposedly raped, it’s her own fault.
I’m here because she told lies for us to be locked up
She wanted money to tell the truth, and her mother too
But since they didn’t give her anything…here we are paying.

*The 18th Street Gang is considered to be the largest transnational criminal gang in LA, and cliques have been identified in 32 states as well as in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Canada. The 18th Street gang, one of the two main gangs in El Salvador, is occasionally referred to as the “Children’s Army” because of its recruitment of elementary and middle-school aged youth.

The Reason I Don’t Love

Published by: Olivia

     The girls always look different on Thursdays, in their best clothes and all made-up.  Thursdays there is a strong scent of perfume in the air because they have visiting hours, and they have great energy and feel like venting or just sharing—mostly about their loves, their boyfriends who come (or sometimes don’t com) to visit them.  One Wednesday a young girl had told me that during the next day’s visit she was going to break up with her boyfriend.  I got to the center ready to console her, saw her hickey, and knew she didn’t do it.

     “I was gonna break up with him,” she said smiling, “but he didn’t let me.”  Later we talked about her relationship, how she had met her boyfriend.  “He stole a kiss, and I like an idiot let him,” she told me.  We discussed if it made sense to leave a “dog-faced” boy who treated her well for a hottie who probably didn’t care about her.  She decided, at last, that no.  There she is still with her “dog-face” who loves her, although according to her she doesn’t let herself love…

The Reason I Don’t Love

Gaby* 18 years

Have you ever been en love?

That stupid stuff isn’t my thing, too cheesy
I am afraid of falling in love
I don’t want to be cheated by anyone
Love is a flying fart
That gets in the way where it doesn’t have to
Love is really nosy

Girls in love are really dumb because any boy can eat their mind
Feeding them bull
Some guys do tell you the truth, for others it’s just a game
But mine?
He’s cried for me a bunch of times
He lets it show that he’s in love, this son-of-a-gun doesn’t want to leave me
I feel that he loves me but I
Mostly don’t…

Love is ordinary.
Sometimes we love dogs, because
Sometimes we as women can be masochistic
There we are stupid with him always
While they hit us, beat us, want to see us as less,
They think that what they can do we can’t do, because they are some
Big machos

That’s why I’m a player (not a ho because I’m afraid I’ll get an STD)
I don’t like to grab onto anyone seriously
I won’t allow myself to fall in love, or give my love to someone who can’t value it
At the same time, it’s bad to be a player
Your reputation as a woman goes to the floor and people talk bad about you
I feel bad going out with lots of guys because I don’t feel loved by any one person

I ask God to give me a man
Not the perfect man
But someone who is on the right path, who respects me, who values me
And who will give me the love that
No one has given me

Do you love yourself?

I feel really small
Like I am ugly, like no one loves me
I feel like trash
I have always felt like this
I feel like I am living dead
And my heart…I don’t know

When I was 15 I started to really feel like trash
I was raped.  It was a jerk that I didn’t know
I feel like I am worth nothing, dirty
Men are total shits and for this reason I say
Love is ugly
Because I feel in my heart there is only hate, bitterness and rejection

I see couples and I say damn they love each other a ton these sons-of-a-gun
What I wouldn’t give to be with someone like that
God-willing, he will erase my wounds, because scars always stay
And I ask him to let me open my heart to take away all this darkness

*this young woman decided to take an artistic name

If They Could Speak

Posted By: Olivia

If They Could Speak

 Young Woman, age 15

If my hands could speak when hugging someone maybe they would say what they feel while hugging them.  They would say that they have touched a little bit of everything and that when caressing someone, just seeing them they would say what it is they feel.

If my feet could speak they would say how tired I am from walking where they want, through puddles, mud, floors, hills.  Our feet are our lives.  They carry all our weight, and for this reason are connected with our mind and heart.  Our heart and our mind carry our feelings, thoughts, strengths, weaknesses.  They are like our feet because from one moment to the next we feel like we can’t continue and want to stay where we are, but life goes on.  Although sometimes we pay for the errors of other people.

If my eyes could speak with one look they could say to someone without using my mouth how much I love them, how much I hate them, how much I missed them.  They would tell all my experiences here in the center for everything I’ve seen, heard and lived.  They would tell the history of when I saw my mother die, and scream that I love her, that I miss her, that I need her, that I would like to be with her, to hug her.  Without her nothing is the same.  Our family isn’t complete without her.

If my ears could speak they would say they would say they hate to hear lies, arguments, insinuations, vulgarities, they have heard a little bit of everything.  Maybe my ears are the dirtiest for hearing all these things I shouldn’t be allowed.  They would tell the story of my friend Coco’s secret, something that happened when she was 15.  They would yell the story to bring justice about and so the person who did damage could pay for what he’s done.

If my nose could speak, it would say how disgusting the smell of baby’s poop and how delicious the smell of chocolate…


I Hate…

Published By: Olivia

The following poem is the result of a conversation I had with one of the more severe girls in the center in which I asked her about things that made her happy.  I asked her if she liked music, babies, flowers, tasty food, hanging out with friends.  According to her, ever since she was little what she most likes is the darkness.  She says it is fun to hate.


Young Woman, age 17

that they want to tell me what to do
that they talk to me hypocritically
that they only need me when they need something
I don’t like when they lie to me.
that the girls from the other gang want to feel bigger than me
that they think they’re real tough and can domiate or control us
This will never happen.
that they are gossipy, busybodied idiots.


I hate the whole world.
I hate my best friend for being stupid, being dumb
Why the hell did she have to give her pussy to a man who didn’t know how to value it?
My teacher from preschool—yeah, I hate her
She should squeeze her own ass and not my arm,
My neighbors for being dumb and nosy
Why the hell don’t they bother with their own lives…that’s why they’re all jacked up
I hate police, I detest them.
I hate when people scold me.


It’s fun to hate
Because at the same time it makes me laugh
I feel like it’s a joke
These are things tat I hate, and they’re things that people do, but still I hate them more
I think about this and it makes me laugh
For a moment I forget it, but then after
I hate it more
                        …and it makes me laugh more.

For My Friend

Posted by: Olivia

The following letter was written by a young woman to her best friend, whom she was ordered to kill in order to prove her loyalty to the gang. She told me simply and without pretext, “there is a saying: you either kill or they kill you.”  She says that these days she feels forgiven, but that sometimes she thinks about how this friend who died when she was 14 would have grown up, and where they could be now, and what they would do together.

For My Friend


My Dear One,

My friend.  I loved you so much.  We had good times together, and bad times, but we got to know each other, to know what we liked and what we didn’t like.  We learned to understand each other, to read each other’s gazes, we knew how to support eachother in really tough situations.  We learned to enjoy each moment that we spent together, despite our environment.  We made our own world in which no one else existed, just you and I.  We had problems, but we always forgave each other.  Neither one of us could live separated from the other.

We always counted on each other, but in the end you made a mistake that separated us forever.

I know that you are well, you are resting from all the bad that exists in this world.  I know that you are still with me in every good thing that happens to me, and also when I have problems.   Maybe I can’t see you but I know you are there.

I know that right now you are seeing what I’ve written.  I know that you are laughing alongside of me for the crazy things that I do, and you are happy because I have managed to change what I wanted to change even though you couldn’t.  You will always be in my heart and in my mind, and you will always be my little sister like you always said to me.

I’ll end this letter but I am not going to say goodbye because I know that one day we will see each other again…

If They Could Speak

If They Could Speak
Young woman, 20 years old

If my mouth could speak,
it would tell you everything that I’ve done in my life.
It would tell you that I have kissed,
I have eaten what I like and I taste it.
It has said malicious things, negative things, it has smoked.
It would like to be able to say something when someone scolds me,
it would like to be able to vent everything so I could feel better.
Sometimes the mouth can’t speak
out of respect for other people.

If my hands could speak,
they would tell you I’ve touched animals,
I’ve grabbed dirty things, I’ve stroked people, I have hit.
I have played with my hands, I have pointed things out to people.
I have planted trees that give fruit,
I like to see them when they’re grown,
and are green and healthy.

If my feet could speak,
they would tell you how much I’ve walked.
I have worn down out the streets of San Salvador.
My toes have been hurt when I trip,
but because they can’t talk
only I feel the pain
and they stay silent.

If my heart could speak,
it would tell you all of the pain it has inside.
That it has suffered when it falls in love and is betrayed.
My heart beats every second,
wanting to speak about love,
that it does hurt,
that love is only an imagination,
it’s only magic.

If my hair could speak,
it would tell you that I have bathed it in chemicals.
When I put chemicals on it,
it suffers because it wants to be natural,
just like fruit that comes from nature.

If my legs could speak,
they would tell you many stories.
One of them is that they were abused by my boyfriend
that hit me out of jealousy.
On my legs, he left bruises,
and when they itched, I scratched them.
I thought that scratching them
might hurt my legs on the inside.
But because they can’t talk,
they didn’t say anything to me.