A Narrative of Captivity: A Take on Youth Imprisonment

I can see picket fences, smiling sun faces

I can feel all traces, the golden tongue laces

Feeling like running races is all I’m good at

Picking paces and anxiously waiting post stamps.

The hood claps

And I wish I could hear it

Who woulda thought confinement would make you death to hearing

Took death to living

Still waiting for an answer

Praying God’s Forgiving

Forgive him

Forgive me

Forgive survival through sinning

Forget the lies they bidded

When they told me I had chance

Facing life in prison

When they told him raise hands

While I’m cuffed in system

When they took my own homie in a PE Lesson

 

When they spit at my family in a language undressed

How could I /forget the fuckin language they pressed.

 

Another hearing where we never ever heard

Still I hear the word through a bird

 

Who sings a song through wood and steel/

 

I know why the caged bird don’t kill

I know what the caged bird knows – REAL

I fly high through the strife of my bill

Praying family sees me for what I am- REAL.

 

Cause Lord knows those power in sure don’t

Making an image outta me for

Struggle they Never had to post

 

Amounts raised as if my family could post

 

Bail

 

I’m in this cell but I’m not the only one living in hell.

 

I’m in this cell trying to maintain relations through mail

Trying to keep my soul alive and make sure my mom stays well

 

But my mind state swells – and I enter different realms.

 

Been in since I was 14, I’m 26 and already done 12.

 

So watch what you’re saying when you speak about my name

Watch which side you’re playing when you enter this game

 

I sit and wonder when I’ll see my family again.

I sit and wonder how fast time can pass and how to deal with a lost past within.

 

But I keep on.

‘Cause no one can take what’s inside this muscle.

What survives this struggle.

What shines through this hustle.

 

You can lock up a body, but you cannot touch this mind

 

And shit can kill-

But it can’t redefine or affect the resurrection of what’s mine

The divine is within-

So even without,

We find a way to make it through homie,

I’ll see you on the outs.

 

Review:

Mary Rowlandson in her Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, describes her experiences as being held captive by Indigenous Native Peoples. She describes the trauma she underwent, while also softly speaking against certain stereotypes of Native Indigenous tribes. Rowlandson in her text depicts fear, a sense of helplessness, but also documents the intimate interactions she witnesses as captive amongst populations she had previously never been as close to. Rowlandson story became a best seller throughout the colonies, aligning with a traditional American tactics to put white endangerment at the forefront of all that’s important in America. When a young black boy gets shot by the police, it means nothing to white America. When a 14-year old Latino boy and his high school friends get sentenced to life without parole in prison, as a minor, it does not face headlines. Yet, when a white, wealthy person from a prominent background, faces the slightest threat to prison, it makes headlines and lawyers are there to rescue.

This poem is dedicated to the thousands of American youth who have been held captive in the American prison system with no proper rescue, and whose stories are never heard. This poem reflects a captivity narrative that audiences might not be so welcoming to hear as they were with Rowlandson, for it reveals the problems within our broken judicial systems that intertwine childhood well-being/ safety, while also addressing broken sentencing laws that create large amounts of disparity amongst our youth, men, and women of color. This poem is written in 1stperson perspective, however I find it important to acknowledge that while this piece was written in 1stperson to depict and imitate the narrative style of Rowlandson, this is not my experience and I will never know what it’s like to go through this. This poem aims to honor the resilience of the youth whose stories this poem attempts to reflect and hopes to shed light on the struggle of surviving freely within a nation of policing and imprisonment.

There are men and women sitting in prison for things they did as a child who are still fighting for their story to be heard, for the justice they deserve. This is for them.

-Angelica Costilla

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2 thoughts on “A Narrative of Captivity: A Take on Youth Imprisonment

  1. This blog post was a very interesting angle of the parody. I enjoyed the originality and how they spoke about a very important topic. In the future they should maybe try implementing a bit of statistics because I felt like this post was very powerful.

    Like

  2. The original idea presented was the take on Rowlandson’s narrative of captivity in a parody to explain youth captivity in the United States. I enjoyed how they communicated the loss of freedom and innocence. This could have been improved by making a possible parody of another piece; I felt like this wasn’t the best reading to pick, but it communicated it’s message well.

    Like

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