As I try to grapple with the effects of PTSD and other effects of trauma I wanted to paint a very vivid picture of what a soul on fire looks like and feels like. Through poetry I am able to do this, so far after the actual experience of living in hell and chaos.
I try to make sense of the flashbacks and paranoia that still plague me today and still affect me in so many areas of life.
I wanted my words to help purge the strong stench of those dirty cells that fill my nostrils and the madness that I still have ringing in my ears today … and poetry does that. It allows me to make sense of an utterly senseless world that I lived in and so many others still do.
Soul Burning Underwater
Caught in the middle of ready to take off but failure to launch
The demons of my past never cease to ever leave they just sit, have tea and continue to haunt
I have no way of knowing when the aggression, hostility and resolution may take over
But I tell myself that the world I live in now is different and I may continue to live sober
Intoxicated by a former life of violence the streets and trying to gain a reputation
I am the end-result that started with a man-child behind concrete walls and “get–tough-on crime” bill legislation
I take the 12 steps to remain crime free but I taste the streets with my eyes as real as the blood running through my veins
You say for me to be patient and be cool but my poverty, no license and racial profiling is making me insane
I get rejected job after job and find that while the larceny has left it remains oh so bold
It seems easier to sell dope, rob or push back the emotions until I make the ice in my veins hard and cold
But I think of the prison I put my mom in year after year and I know that she never gave up on me
So I stop feeling sorry for myself, push back the tears and put a smile on my face for the world to see
Forced to live in a world that burns the soul to highest levels of twisted dimensions
The black crows feed on the pieces of my broken mind that fell to the floor as it tried to make struggling ascensions
I am officially diagnosed with anxiety, depression and paranoia on a silver plate
The fog has tried to contain my brain into a prison that allows me to be resigned to my fate
I had to hide from myself by climbing inside myself and longed for the day that I would happily draw my last breath,
I was resurrected with the knowledge taught in books and whispered over candlelight that breathed life into an otherwise dead soul
Determined to go back in the world and create a life where I stopped chasing those images that I finally realized was just fools’ gold
What Life Has Become
In this place there is madness, sadness, chaos and hell
For years I sat and watched as the brick turns in that 6×9 cell
I yearned for the days of a comforting childhood dream
Where I could feel safe and live and not experience the craziness busting at the seams
One who flew over the cuckoo’s nest, the green mile, these movies don’t shed light on my reality
For my reality is a feeling of darkness consumed with anger that only I can see
Dancing in the moonlight as my mind takes flight to another dimension
The smell of a cold dark taste makes its way through my vent in a deathly ascension
The walls close in, my mind craves to be touched, and yet my veins grow shards of ice and it feels way too much
I am ready to be used as a weapon, cold black steel, no remorse, no regrets I am just a prisoner of life
I have no existence, no meaning, just a bird of hate that has finally taken flight
See cell house 220 was a place that was designed to break a man and cut up his soul
I am determined to never die, be forever young as my quest for freedom becomes ever so bold
I must not flinch in the face of any affliction that visits my mind in this solitary world
My mind separates from the body in order to make sense of my soul that sits in utter peril
Is this a dream, nightmare or just what life has become.
Jeff Wallace has spent most of his life studying the effects of the policy and procedures followed by the criminal justice system on at-risk youth — first as one of those youths and then through his degrees in criminal justice. He is a program manager providing alternatives to detention or incarceration; founder and CEO of Vision Leadership and Productions and is also CEO for the Iowa-based nonprofit, S.T.E.P. of the Quad Cities.