The School of Hard Knocks, an excerpt from the book, Man Up

by James R. Metters Jr.

When I was free on the streets I had a problem with people telling me what was right. I hustled in front of churches, disrespected evangelists, and mocked my elders.

But now, irony had me in a strong headlock; I wanted to listen. This was a strange mental shift for me and my home boys who were used to me acting a fool. And when I really switched up a lot of the homies started hating.

“Eh Jay, what’s up baby boy…where you going?”

“I’m on my way to chapel.” I answered.

“Is that right – the chapel hun – well, I’m on my way to smoke a blunt!” My so called potna said, patronizing me. Normally, I would have cursed him out and started a fight, but I had to stop worrying about what others thought about me and how I wanted to live my life.

Besides that, many dudes were not doing anything significant – just wasting time: reminiscing on the past, drinking pruno (homemade wine), and smoking weed like he’d said. read more

Short Story

by Ounce of Game

I come from a very cultural Polynesian family.  Our values are the second to third things individuals in my family cherish and or respect.  For me, this also applies, however, I perceive the point of view differently.  I try my best to abide by the rules.  I was taught, but as you can see, I’ve tripped up.

I’m Tongan, Samoan, Japanese and Chinese.  I grew up in various places such as San Francisco, San Mateo, Los Angeles and San Jose.  I mostly have memories in San Mateo, on the east side, in a part called Shoreview.  My memories in San Mateo consist of me being a hooligan.  I was drinking by twelve, smoking by eight.  My experiences with alcohol and drugs were with my older brother. I have one older bother who has me by two years, three younger brothers and one sister who is the youngest. read more

A Real Friend

by Dortell Williams

I had never really thought about what a friend was, much less a real friend. But after thinking about it, and having a lot of bad friends as examples, I know exactly what a good friend is supposed to be.

First, bad friends are not really friends at all. There’s no such thing as a bad friend. In reality, there are just good friends and bad people.

Bad people will dare you to do dangerous things you don’t want to do. Bad people will let you be the fall guy (or girl) for things that you didn’t do. Bad people are bad; they get you in trouble, or worse. Bad people try to get you to do things that are bad for you, like smoking or doing drugs, or worse. Bad friends gossip about you, laugh at you and think they’re better than you.

But a friend is someone you can trust. A friend will help you when you’re down; give you good advice and be there for you when you need him. A friend, a real friend will always do good things for you; you can count on a real friend. That doesn’t mean friends won’t make mistakes, they do. But a real friend will forgive and forget; a real friend will apologize and a real friend will keep your secrets until the grave – because most importantly, you can trust a real friend… with your life. read more

Thanks For Nothing

by Cassie

Hey Dad,

Thanks for abandoning me, basically when I was little. Thanks for making my mom and me resent you and become jaded when anyone wants to come into our lives.

You shattered me at young age, as well as my image of what a man should be. I know you have your own issues, but I’ve always wanted to know why you couldn’t get stuff together, and step up for us and be my father? I guess you being a dead beat was a blessing in disguise, because my grandpa is the better father you could have never been. He gave me everything I wanted and more. I can never call you my father. My grandpa deserves to be called my father any day over you.

I’m worried my actions ending me up in YSC (Youth Services Center), impacted my grandpa more than anyone, or me. I blame myself for his health issues increasing, that go on with him while I’m in here, but I just want him to know that I cherish calling him my father, and that I love him more than myself. read more

Life in Prison

by Pao Yang

Life in prison is very lonely, stressful, and dark like the black holes in space, which is capable of swallowing all of your dreams and goals. I am able to say that because at the age of sixteen, and through my sel sh actions, I was sentenced to life in prison. I traded away all of my teenage years of going to high school, a chance at driving a car; achieving my goals and career for being in prison, serving a sentence of 25 to LIFE for rst degree murder. I had to become a man in my youth, and that lead me to make many poor choices in my young life. I always thought that I knew it all and that I had everything under control. I thought that I was the one making the decisions in my life. Only to nd out it was only half true. Yes, it was my decision to make, but most of my decisions were based on a distorted belief of what I thought I had to do, or who I had to be. read more

Positive Traits

by Revo

My predicament has been helping me out positively. Despite my situation being negative, at this moment I’m in the process of learning patience, discipline and self-control. My ongoing incarceration has been assisting me shape the better, stronger me that I have been running away from for so long. Honestly I’m grateful for the adversities I’m facing because without them I wouldn’t be the same person I am right now. While in captivity I never obsess over time. It is a form of self-torture. I use my memories of the past and relive them in my mind. I stretch each memory out, even the ones that only lasted a few minutes in real life, and I relive each of those memories for days at a time. I believe a man with no memories of happiness, pleasure and family and friendship or adventures will be conquered by time and by his captors. read more