Two short poems from Seattle's juvenile jail | KUOW News and Information

Two short poems from Seattle's juvenile jail

May 1, 2017


By a young man in juvenile detention, age 15

Everybody should know
that when I was younger
I was at school one day,
I went straight from lunch to recess.
My brother was driving down the street.
Somebody was shooting at his car.
The police said that one of the bullets
went through the window and
hit him in the back of his head.

He lost control of his car
and crashed into the monkey bars.

I just remember him…
he opened his door and leaned out.
He was just dead.

I started crying.
They were telling me to calm down.
I was shocked to the point where I couldn’t think
like I was dying too.
I was trying to go to the car,
they say I couldn’t. Then my mom picked me up from school.

Ever since then, I started skipping school.

Photographer Richard Ross took this photo of King County Youth Services Center - the juvenile jail in Seattle - as part of his Juvenile In Justice photography project.

I just didn’t want to come no more

because I didn’t know what was going to happen there.

After that day, that’s when I started changing.

I can’t lead the life that I started.

That happened four years ago.

When you know you can’t get somebody back,

when you can’t even walk up to them,
or give em a hug,
you feel empty like an alley
that leads to big field,
like an endless row with nothing there.


By a young woman in juvenile detention, age 15

I’ve had a lot of deaths in my life:

My great grandmother: the smell of roses, like her perfume, like grandmothers do

My sister: her big grin, like when she pranked me, a smile as big as the sun

My uncle: he lived everyday like he was going to die the next

My cousin: a big, blue sombrero, joking that she would join a Mariachi band

My mom: the best bear hug ever, she was a pro-wrestler, she wouldn’t let you go

And I haven’t let her go

If I were to paint a picture with all my deaths, it would be a picture of world peace, the earth with all of them holding hands in a circle around it

These poems were written this year at the King County Youth Services Center in Seattle as part of the Pongo Teen Poetry program.