The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth, was founded by David Inocencio in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at email@example.com.
Ten years ago I met my wife. We were high school sweethearts. We fell in love fast. Our love was like electricity. We were together every day. Things between us were great. She was the best friend I had always wanted. We stayed together all through high school, graduated together and moved into a home together.
You would think that walking out of prison after almost 24 years would probably be one of the happiest moments of my life — but you would be wrong — because it was actually one of the most frightening moments.
I am 38 years old. I have been incarcerated almost 15 years now. I have a sentence of LWOP (life without parole) plus 25 to life for a first-degree murder with drive-by enhancement. I was raised in the Bay Area on the Oakland side of the water. My family was big. Dad’s side was Mexican, mom’s side was white.
Just as lightning flashes and dances across the sky, so too, does this life I live. In a world away, a jungle so thick that everything touches you, a war not of my making, took my father and sister in a cloud of thundering smoke.
Today is Father’s Day — but to be honest I don’t feel as if this day really applies to me — I mean how could it, when I’ve never been much of a father to you — I was loyal to all the wrong things and chose the streets over my family — and as a result of my choices I spent most of your life in prison.