by JJ Ramirez
If I was to be asked the question, “Are you ready to be released?”
My answer would be that of, “Hell yeah!”
Reasons being that I have learned so much of myself through my confinement
I have fought my inner demons, which lived beneath my skin, and won.
First you must understand I grew up without a father
“like so many behind these walls.”
But I guess I can say without a mother as well.
Mom always at work, so many hours I never really saw her.
Used to come around on payday with a bag of hamburgers, love.
Guess I could say she did it all for us.
So you see, I taught myself how to be a man.
“Growing up on the streets, with other kids”
Or what I believed it took to be one, loyal, respectful, respected, a true friend.
Someone you can count on.
Never aware of life struggles making it out there on your own.
That’s when I needed that father, that mother.
When I was on track and took that stumble.
Took it hard.
Back to fake friends, back to that one with the open arms
Drugs, numbed that pain away. So much pain, nowhere to be seen,
“Comfort” that pain turned to hate.
That pain ate away with thoughts that it’s better
This was in this world full of fakes and pain.
As I feel myself turn cold in this war within myself,
Treating people like shhh no love, “What a fool”
Now as I sit here in this cell made of concrete
Older, wiser with understanding of self, as well of others.
I have found my heart again, the warmth. The love.
For you see, on the streets I was my greatest enemy.
I didn’t understand the war within me.
Now we co-exist in peace.
Now I understand. Now I see.
The famous psychologist Sigmund Freud once said
“Unless the personality has love, it sickens and dies.”
How true this is.
A stumble to me now is just that. A stumble.
Get up stand tall and brush it off,
And continue on your strive on that this test we call life.
Damn if I only had someone back then to ask about my problem, my pain.
Someone to let me know about the struggles, the stumbles.
It would be this easy, with words such as these.
We all go through hard times.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Or “Life is what you make it,
you and only you have the control of your destiny.”
Or “Life is a challenge, you in the end must be the champion.”
In the end disappointment is just that, a word, a set back.
It’s up to you how hard you want to take it.
Crazy that’s now I see.
I let the ways of others dictate me.
I became cold and selfish out there.
Loving almost nothing not even me.
But there was one thing that kept me alive, that kindle my heart.
Her beautiful eyes, her smile, her unconditional love.
Alexis Ramirez, my lil’ girl, my daughter.
I made a promise a vow, that I won’t let her down,
that I’ll be a dad in her life.
My kids won’t grow up without their father.
Damn a broken promise.
But this is a story for another time.
I’ll subtitle it “Mi Corazon.”
My Heart in Spanish.
For she is just that, my heart, my beloved.
So you asked, “What do you miss about freedom?”
I won’t take nothing for granted,
not even the simplest things.
Like a tree, yeah a tree.
I would love to climb its branches, like a kid.
I would lay underneath it, and watch a bird leap from twig to twig
I’ll close my eyes, and hear the breeze blow
through the leaves in tranquility.
No cell block doors unlocking.
No one yelling, “Tower!!”
No constant loud chattering.
Just peace, just me, in deep thought underneath my tree,
Watching my path unfold to succeed.
A tree, my haven.
What I will give to be free underneath my tree.
It’s been so long since the last time I held a leaf.
And this is just one of the simplest things.
Freedom is peace.