Creative submissions from San Bruno Jail

May 5, 2018, 3:32 p.m.

The following pieces were written by inmates in the San Francisco county jail in San Bruno. The writers belong to a group run by the Stanford Prisoner Advocacy and Resources Coalition and managed by two Stanford students, law student Amanda McCaffrey and PhD candidate in Sociology Sophie Allen. The writers’ full names have been withheld to protect their privacy.

My Poetry by Rick B.

I use my brain

As a tool when

I go to school

I got knowledge because

I could’ve been a fool

It’s kinda hard growing

Up in these type of days

I used to make money

In all type of ways

Making babies that

Don’t really make

A man but when

You raise them

That’s when you

Take a stand

I wanna be around

To watch my

Baby sprout teach

Her what life is

About but I’m

Sitting in jail

With nothing to say it’s just another day

(a) (bay) (bay)

Reality by DeAndre W.

My Reality doesn’t seem real. I can’t believe that

I’m locked up in a cell with the threat of a life


It can’t end like this I’m not finished

living. I’m a father now thinking

of ways to explain to my daughter


Can I Share My Pain by Dedrick D.

Can I share my pain with you?

I want to break the chains that have

bound me to suffering. I want to break

the beliefs of the people what said I’ll

amount to nothing.

Can I share my pain with you?

It’s a shame what a pain will make us

do. I could point and blame my pain

on you and say, “if you bring me pain

then shame on you, because I didn’t

have that coming!” But who am I to

place blame?

Can I share my pain with you?

I want a woman that’ll nurture me

when I’m sad and let me cry in her

arms. And when I’m nervous she’ll

place her gentle hands in my shaky

palms and tell me “it’ll be alright.”

Can I share my pain with you?

What if I said I was molested? Would

you understand why I’m coy? Being

taken advantage of as a little boy. So

while I was loitering, fascinated by her

embroidery, I was really uncomfortable

while her hands were exploring


Can I share my pain with you?

I was shot at 10 years old! I’m still

terrified. Not accepting my pain is the

reason why I terrorize. But sharing my

pain will help me heal inside so I ask,

“can I share my pain with you?”

Crack in the Ground by Zejon W.

“They say light is the essence of all creation and with light we could see all of what we can’t see, or all of what we choose not to. Light has claimed the same of beginning, but what was before that?…”


“Don’t stare too hard.”

Every day we are parents. We watch the rise of our sun and nurture the fall of our nights. Blessed to see the poetry of life, some of us are paralyzed by the beautiful forever sight.

“…You’ll go blind,” Ms. Janet continued to warn. “Little Man you hear me?” She stepped out into the sunshine, exposing her youthfulness. Her chocolate skin melted in daylight, the earth breathed her scent. Little Man always felt when his mama was coming, he heard the song of her vibration in the air. She spoke only to his soul. “Little Man don’t stare into the sun like that, it’s bad for your eyes!” He focused his gaze towards his mother, showing full attention.

“Now look, mommi has a new job, okay? I will be able to make enough money to buy you three toys.” Little Man’s eyes lit up in excitement. “It’s just going to be me and you for a while and mommi is going to need your help. It’s time to be a big boy now, okay Little Man?” He nodded in agreement.

Ms. Janet grabbed onto her Little Man, leading the way. As they walked through the neighborhood Little Man jumped over from cube to cube trying to dodge all of the cracks in the ground. He believed stepping on a loose crack could split the earth in half. He and his mom arrived at their destination. “The Park!” Little said with full amusement.

“This is our new home now, Little, try to make some friends.”

She kneeled down to his height, placing a watch on his wrist. “Listen Man, I will be back at six, that’s three hours from now. I need you to be safe, okay?” She kissed her ten-year-old on his forehead. “Don’t leave,” she added before walking away.

“Tag you’re it!” a kid yelled while running away from Little Man. He waved before turning away to play. Ms. Janet caught the gesture and smiled.

“My name is Twan, what’s yours?”

“Little Man.”

Twan looked surprised. “Little Man. What kind of name is that?” Three other kids ran over to meet Little Man, all introducing themselves. “I’m Art.” “I’m Jay Jay.” “I’m Joseph.”

“Where’s your hair?” said Jay Jay, being that he never really met a bald kid before.

“Shut up Jay Jay,” Art said. “You look skinny, Little Man. Come on you guys, let’s get something to eat,” Twan commanded. All the kids followed his lead but Little Man.

“Little Man! You coming?” said Art. “My mom said not to leave.”

“Come on Little, we’re only going down the street,” Joseph shouted.

“But my mom will be back in two hours.”

“Look Little, we only going down the street to the store, we’ll be back before she gets back,” Twan convinced. Little Man hesitated but followed after. “We are your friends now, Little,” Twan added.

“Hey you guys, wanna see something?” Twan asked. They all entered an abandoned building on Woodstock and North Philli. “This is our hang out, Little, you’re with us now, so come here if something happens to you.”

Joe spoke. “Look.”

Twan pulled out a long 9mm pistol from his jeans.

“Where’d you get that? Let me see!” Jay Jay yelled.

The kids crowded around to see the semi-automatic toy. Everyone hovered around Twan but Little Man.

“You ever seen one of these, Little Man?”

He shook his head no in response. “Here, hold it.” Little Man hesitated before grabbing the gun. He pointed it up towards Twan.

“Watch out! That’s nothing to play with.” Twan took the gun back. “Be careful! Don’t point it at none of us, okay.” Little Man nodded his head. Twan placed the gun back on his waist. Little thought about what time it was. 4:30. His mom would lose her mind if she seen what he was doing. He imagined her beautiful face turning from smile to down, like day to night. He wondered what she was doing, where she was at, how safe she was. He thought about how…

“Yo be cool”

“No, I wanna see it too!”

“Jay Jay! Let go of the gun!”

Jay Jay and Twan tugged over the weapon. “Yo y’all need to stop!” Art screamed as they jerked the item once more. They jerked the weapon from both of each other, throwing it into the air. The gun flew across the room, landing on the floor. “BANG! BANG!” …

“Help me pick him up Art!” yelled Twan.

“Hurry up, don’t just stand there!” said Joseph. Art picked up the body and threw it out the window. He looked down as it landed in the bushes. “Poor Little,” he thought. Hopefully his mom could come to grips with this. “Come on, let’s go!” yelled Twan …

9:30 p.m. “Have you seen my son?” Ms. Janet roamed the streets for two days till the police found Little Man dead in the bushes. He was shot twice; one in the head, one in the neck. True story.

Sarah Wishingrad '18 is a former Desk Editor for the University/Local beat. She is a History major from Los Angeles, California who loves politics, the waffles at Coupa, and all things Jane Austen. Ask her about her dog, Hamilton, at swishing 'at'

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