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.


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