Stamped at Birth

More Than Our Crimes
2 min readSep 6, 2022


‘Instead of being willing to die for you, I should have lived for you’

A pink heart painted on a cracked concrete wall
Credit: Valentina Shilkina

By Antwon Holcomb, dedicated to my brother, D

I can remember it all like it was yesterday.
Looking down at my brother D lying in casket
while I’m in tears, asking,
So, this is it, huh?
This is how it ends?

With so much bitterness and hate running through my veins,
I vowed to never look at the world the same.
This was the day something inside of me changed.
The pain splintered my body but slayed my soul.
Within no time, I was living according to what he died by.
And as time flew on,
I grew more and more addicted to the rush.
I even tricked myself into believing that every time I up’d a gun
or pulled a trigger,
I did it for us.

I was so lost.
I wasn’t ready to see my brother D lying dead in that casket.
It was like, for the first time in my life,
I saw how brutal and cold the streets can be.
And I thought that in order to survive,
I had to become just as brutal,
just as cold.
I had to be ready to avenge life and take life.
And my heart had to be absent of love.

Man, I can’t believe how stupid I was.
I see now that instead of being willing to die for you,
I should have been willing to live for you.
Instead of being willing to avenge your name,
I should have been willing to keep your name alive.
I should have told the world about your heart,
your struggles and loyalty,
what you meant to me.
I should have told the youth about the things we endured,
from sleeping in stolen cars to being hungry and
stealing out of stores.
Cuz maybe, just maybe,
your story could’ve helped someone else see their worth.

D, as I sit here with my head down,
all I can say is that it feels like
we were stamped at birth…

Antwon is serving a 93-year sentence and is currently incarcerated at USP Thomson, a high-security, federal “special management unit” in Illinois.



More Than Our Crimes

Rob Barton has been incarcerated for 26 years. Pam Bailey is his collaborator/editor. Learn more at