Raheem Rahman, an incarcerated writer in Maryland, recently wrote to us at Winning Writers about his podcast The Caged Guerrilla. Rahman’s twice-weekly show discusses prison life, urban culture, self-improvement, and activism. He’s a raw, dynamic speaker who understands how “prison reform” requires radical change in the power structures outside the prison walls. In one letter to me, he said:
A lot of us did not know that we possessed this talent or even this intelligence until we were put into these type of situations that forced us to reflect or put us into a situation where we can be taught or have the opportunity to learn.
In a way, it makes it sound like I’m advocating for prison but I’m not. I’m saying that if these men and women were granted these opportunities before we got here. It could have saved a lot of heartache and maybe even lives. Furthermore, these talented and intelligent people could have been a benefit to society. A lot of us still can if people get out of their preconceived notions.
Rahman has kindly permitted me to reprint two of his poems below. For more of his writing, check out The Caged Guerrilla, his book based on the show.
A Man Apart
I find myself
(As of late)
Talking to myself
As if there’s no one else
Around to listen
Yet, I’m surrounded by many…
How could this possible be?
Can the stalk
In the field
Surrounded by his brethren
Not find an ear to bend?
Has life become so entangled?
Locked down, held down, pain now
Heart about to bust.
Love lost, heart constrained.
Foundation crumbled to dust.
Minutes gone, time wasted
Still the situation is the same.
Money’s tight, things aren’t right
Guess who gets the blame.
Mouths to feed, people in need
Nobody to pick up the slack.
Losing all hope, sense of direction
Brains about to crack.
Can’t catch a break, no matter what’s at stake
Still end up losing ground.
Can’t find an out, no matter the route
It all ends up going down.
Irregardless of the cost, I’m tired of the lost
Need something to set me free.
Hand me a map, place a key on my lap
Dear God, please release me.
From life struggles, heartaches
Prison and pain.
From pandemic, poverty, ignorance
And the mentally insane.