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Poem-a-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 250 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary and audio by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is distributed via email, web, and social media to 500,000+ readers free of charge. The series is curated by twelve poets from across the country who have wide-ranging expertise and editorial perspectives. Learn more about the 2019 guest editors and revisit the 2018 guest editors and the poems they curated. Read more about Clint Smith's approach to curating February

My Eyes Have Seen What My Heart Has Felt

Read by Clint Smith.
About this Poem 

This poem is published in partnership with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, an organization based in Washington, DC, that is committed to elevating and amplifying the voices of those directly impacted by the prison system. Through creative writing, job readiness training, and violence prevention outreach, Free Minds assists members, who are incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youths and adults, in realizing their own potential. The poet’s last name was withheld on request in consideration of their privacy. 

My Eyes Have Seen What My Heart Has Felt

Guilty Guilty Guilty for actions that took my sympathy
Shackles around my wrist shackles at my feet
Prom and high school graduation these eyes will never see
My heart said, Oh well
At least you will no longer have to endure your daily home abuse
I grew into a woman unbalanced behind those wire fences
Recall (3xs) that’s all I knew
Always committing some illegal offenses straight to the SHU
These eyes have seen the bottom of boots,
Mace in the face,
The heavy blue dress while people watch you 24hrs a day,
A lock in a sock,
Shall I go on?
My heart was always heavy
when I constantly placed myself back in the same abuse
I thought I would escape
I knew I had something in me worth showing the world, but what?
Fighting my demons was real tuff
A peaceful life didn’t feel so ruff
I opened my mouth and people was shocked
That I could read, count, think, understand, listen, play chess, learn a trade
They started to see my worth
My eyes have seen a life the majority would have failed surviving
Rape, abuse, homelessness, parent-less, drugs, prison, mental health, failure
My heart became strong enough to finally love myself
And I finally looked up to the woman in the mirror 

Copyright © 2019 by Cheleta T. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Cheleta T. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.