This is Reality When You’re Staring Down a Sentence of 93 Years

How do you find purpose when all you can see ahead is a dark tunnel?

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By Antwan Holcomb

I am a shallow shell.
The crab that was once inside
has died,
I didn’t understand the repercussions
of my decisions.
My mind was too wrapped around things
that were senseless.

Now, as a young man,
I know what it feels like
to be told that the beginning
is really the end of my life.
Like being confined to a coffin,
body covered with invisible scars.

Youth need to learn that this
is the type of stuff that happens
when you are unaware of who you are.
The streets never game me spit,
but a gift of disillusion,
leaving me with a cold heart,
no freedom
and mental bruises.

It’s safe to say
that the man I am today
is still being haunted
by the man I was yesterday.

And I am afraid.

Will my darkest dreams become my reality?
God, please remove these demons
from around me.
I don’t want to die young,
going mad.
I don’t want to be counted among
the broken men.

But this is my reality:
so vivid,
It’s like someone’s hands are over my eyes,
because I’m struggling to see the light.

Young brothers out there:
This is my reality now.
Controlled movement,
a toilet for a room,
the sound of clanging
keys and doors.

This is my reality now.
What’s yours?

Rob Barton has been incarcerated for 25 years. Pam Bailey is his collaborator/editor. Learn more at