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The Street

The Street

Bad Girl

These girls in juvie say they know how to fight
That they can do everything
That they have tricks you don’t have
That the street is just messing around

-They don’t know what the street is-

Living in the street is risking you will get beat up
It’s not having a roof over your head
It’s enduring big storms and cold
It’s going hungry
It’s finding friends who only introduce you to bad things
It’s ending up in prison or the hospital –with luck-
It’s having to obey your click’s leader
Instead of your mom and dad
It’s exposing your self to murder and rape
It’s not having comfort from anyone

These girls are proud to say they are from the streets
Because they don’t know what it is like to grow up there.
The streets are nothing great,
It’s the worst thing that can happen to you.
If I would have known what the street was about
I wouldn’t have chosen it.
But this is my path…
 

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I Didn’t Know He Was a Palabrero*

Published by: Olivia

I Didn’t Know He Was a Palabrero*

Margarita
I didn’t know he was a palabrero
but I love him very much.
I thought he was an average guy
but even so he was everything.

He told me he loved me
I believed him
although now he is going to be a dad
I want to forget him
and I can’t

All of a sudden
he has another women
it hurts me a lot
but that’s how we women are
-idiotic-
we believe men
without thinking about what they do

*palabrero: a well-respected person within the gang who gives orders


How Do I Call Them “Homeboy”?

Published by: Olivia

How Do I Call Them “Homeboy”?

Butterfly

Homeboy was
a word
that I really liked
because of how it sounded.

A homeboy was
Someone strong
With authority and character
Sure of what they did.

A homeboy was
someone who would be there
from the very beginning
who would never fail me
who would support and correct me.

The homeboys were
my family
that didn’t let me down
who protected and took care of me,
and who gave me love.

A homeboy gave me security
that if something happened,
we would figure it out together
because we were happy
to share the same problem

A homeboy would stand up for me
if things didn’t go as we planned.

A homeboy would never
wish me harm.

But the day came
when I saw
the other side
of the coin.
 
Nighttime.  A house.  Alcohol. Drugs. Money.
5 homeboys. Really drunk. High. Music. Drugs.
Persistence. Resistance. Anger. Deception. Screams.
Begging. My cries. Their laughter.
 
I was nothing to them.

Disgust.
Repugnance.

I couldn’t do anything.
 
My mind went blank
to not feel anything else.
 
Abandonment.
Solitude.
In the midst of so many people
they didn’t see me.
 
Regret for having left my house.
Fear to continue walking in the street.

How many more people were there like this within my gang?
 
How do I call them homeboy
after what they have done to me
knowing that I was part of the same family?
 
How do I call them homeboy knowing
what they did to me hurt me
and damaged me as a woman?

How do I call them homeboy with respect
if in the end it is just a front, a bunch of crap…
the strong ones, the respected ones…

How do I call them homeboy
with the care and affection they ask for
if in reality they disgust and deceive me?
 
Very few
have earned
the name homeboy.

But for me
the word lost its meaning
the night they showed me
what they were capable of doing.


To Be a Woman

Published by: Olivia

In honor of International Women’s Day, we share this poem written by a young incarcerated girl about what it means for her to be a woman.  Today, we wish to remember in a special way all the strong women and young women behind bars who struggle to find peace and forgiveness.

To Be a Woman

“The Lazy One”

Being a woman doesn’t mean you can mistreat us

Being a woman doesn’t mean you can treat us as choleras*

Being a owman doesn’t mean that we are only worth anything in bed

Being a woman does not require beauty products

Because inside each one of us exists a woman who is worth something.

We don’t stop being women just because we prostitute ourselves

We don’t stop being women just because we sleep with a person of the same sex

We as women need love, affection, understanding

Someone who loves us and who shows it with deeds, not words.

No man would exist

If it weren’t for a woman

We only have one mother

Any dog could be a dad

I am proud to be a woman.

*cholera: Salvadoran slang, in this case referring to a woman used to do “dirty work” at another person’s beckoning


The Day My Mom Went to Jail

Published by: Olivia

The Day My Mom Went to Jail

Young girl, 17 years old

The day my mom went to jail
was the first time I had sex.
It was the day I turned 15
I gave in because I was depressed.

The day I decided to let my life go
I began to walk the streets,
to collect extortions and steal,
I had to help my siblings.

The day I went to visit my mom
I didn’t want her to realize what was going on.
“I thought you were going to be a better daughter.”
“I thought you were going to be with me.”

The day they killed my aunt,
they cut her up, they tortured her
I decided to join, too
So I could die like her

The day I got locked up,
I realized all my mom had suffered.
I regretted having turned to the streets.
Now not even her love can save me.


My Enemy

published by: Olivia

My Enemy 
young woman, 18 years old

 
My name is hate.
I live in your heart and in your mind.
I was born out of bitterness,
when you offered friendship
and your friends turned on you.

My last name is Black.
My mother is Fury.
My father is Bitterness.
My sister is Violence.
When you meet my family
you’ll feel scared,
you’ll be trapped.

I’ll give you the urge to kill.
I’ll make you think only in the bad things that happened to you.
I’ll force you to destroy yourself.
I’ll make you suffer.
I’ll be satisfied and proud when you kill yourself
because I will have won.

Don’t let me into your heart,
but when I enter
you can destroy me by thinking about someone you loved
you can destroy me by being intelligent and understanding.

When you find love within yourself, I will disappear.


Haiku

The young women we work with don’t suffer from a lack of words or stories. They have much to tell and a great need to be listened to. Often it’s hard for them to focus on just one idea or choose few words to describe a feeling or an experience. So, we experimented with Haiku, a very simple style of Japanese poetry. It only has three lines; the first has 5 syllables, the second has 7 and the third has 5.

Here are three haikus about love by one of the young women. [Note: in translating the poems to English, they lost their original number of syllables. To see the original poems, click here.]

1.

I’m not hungry
but I have a strong thirst
for you my love.

2.

You are
an ugly and hateful man
but I love you.

3.

I like you a lot
because you are like
a sweet apple.