“Real Words From an Inmate”: Selina’s Poem from the Inside

“Real words from a inmate.  Not a student.  Not a girl.  Not a human being but just a number” – #34 (Selina Garcia)

locked doors, handcuffs, and shackles
isn’t my ideal reason to wake up
screaming, shouting, cussing
isn’t what I wanna hear all day long

Smiles, open arms and joy
is what I rather walk into
I rather hear I am proud of you
than 10-25-life and the 
sound of the metal doors
locking you in a cell

I rather have a diploma
in my hands
than arms twisted behind
my back with too tight cuffs

I rather fall asleep from late nights
of studying for the finals
than to fall asleep because I’m 
forced to with medications and yelling

I rather eat at a burger joint
with my colleagues and friends laughing
than the slop in silent with a old middle
school bully beside me in orange stripes

I rather hug my brothers and sisters 
than to pull out guns and pepper spray
because I’m not educated enough 
to know how to talk out differences and be civilized

I rather attend a friend’s
basketball or football game
than attend their funeral at 17
with a bundle of flowers for a grieving mother

I rather dance and eat at prom my senior year
than in a ER in labor
giving birth to a child
when I’m not able to take care of myself with a diploma

I rather seek help from 
my guidance counselor 
than to ask a gang to help
or feel protected behind the trigger of a gun

I rather say I did it, I graduated
than to say I dropped out
because I’m a misunderstood student
or I’ve fallen behind
because I keep getting suspended for nothing
or because I’m too afraid to go to school
because I get bullied and harassed in the
faces of administrators who just tell kids to stop 
but don’t take action against it

I rather hear Selina Garcia
Come get your diploma
than #34
come sit in the electric chair
and say your final goodbyes
instead of give your speech about 
your high school experience

I rather walk on the sidewalks in 
the sun
than to walk in a courtroom full a people
in shackles feeling embarrassed and humiliated
or sitting on a unit fulla 50 something
other young females – adult women not 
knowing what time it is or if the sun is
even out

I rather have a team
pushing me to graduate and go to college
than administrators against me
pushing me out of school and 
behind bars with a ransom on my head

I rather let my fellow peers know
their voices can be heard
and they can graduate
than to sit in silence and
let them lose hope in following
their dreams and goals

I rather stand up for what I believe in
than to let somebody poison my head
with words like “can’t” and “won’t”

I rather work hard earning money I
won’t have to hide
than selling drugs because I’m a expelled
high school student with a baby I have to
feed because I can’t get a job at McDonalds without a diploma

I rather see my mom’s face smiling in a crowd
than the crying, brokenhearted face at 
my trial or funeral cause I’m just
another statistic

I rather know I have people by my side ready
to make a difference within our schools
than to let these wicked games of Wake County continue
and throwing the most loved, respected, and ambitious boys and
girls in prisons than letting them carry out their dreams
of being athletes, hairdressers, lawyers, and one day, 
getting married and having kids and not have to worry  
about our next generation falling into the wrong hands
and being worse than this one we live in now.  



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