I wonder if the handcuffs were hereditary If we were fed through those chainlink umbilical cords Cut free and raised in disguised prison wards I think our birth certificates may have been the first warrants for our arrest. “Prison” was never a ***** word growing up It was tossed around in potato salads Mixed into our cole slaws And served to us like pecan pie “Prison” was not a ***** word It was just a place that family members ended up A Motel 6 specifically designed for Randolphs But then middle school started I was told that prison was for bad people I refused to believe that it was for bad people That my family shared rooms with criminals Talked with murderers and thieves over a metal dinner table That they were bad people. How are you supposed to feel when you’re told that your DNA is bad people? What are the charges against my biology? What crimes have my genetics committed against the court? Why are their laws written down in my ancestors' blood? I suppose prisons are for bad people But I don’t think you’re a bad person. I wish I could just believe you’re a bad person Since you’ve missed every warrant for communication Every request for appearance to the important dates of my life And I still want to pardon you from all charges Because you’re my big brother. I don’t think you’re a bad person It’s easier to think that the handcuffs were hereditary Than to believe that you ended up here on your own accord And I wish this was your first time But this isn’t my first time crying your name into a cinderblock wall Begging for the release of my bubba You always laughed when I called you bubba Said that I had a way with words yet I still couldn’t pronounce “big brother” I wish we got to know each other better We were separated through a cascade of different fathers and custody cases Names inked into legal paper before I even knew how to write it myself I haven’t talked to you in over a year now The only recent photos I have of you were taken at a police station But you only got arrested a month ago I can’t excuse the other eleven What’s your excuse from running from family? From the only sibling, you have left? These handcuffs are hereditary And every time they rubbed against your wrists, mine burn Every time they say your name in a court setting I hear it slamming into the sides of my skull Every time they shut the bars of your cell I am barred from another part of my soul And I wonder if my name even passes through your thoughts Cause when we mourned for our lost sister together You said it was us against the world So what’s the reason why you never returned my calls? You said we were the only family that we had left But as children of parents who didn’t care for them The word “family” didn’t exactly hold much importance We spent decades masquerading ourselves in the backgrounds of other people’s family photos Trying to pretend like we weren’t secondhand children We weren’t lost souls Yet when they recounted their old memories We could never fit ourselves into their homes I relied on you to keep out of trouble And raise your kids better than Mom ever raised us But my nieces and nephews are still shallowing down the word prison like it’s Tylenol You said I was the only family you could trust The way you’ve treated me and your kids show me what I should’ve known all along Whereas I had a way with your words You never understood their meaning Preferred silent smiles and passive-aggressive grunts towards showing emotion You don’t know what family means And I wonder if you can even feel my pain Yes, these handcuffs are hereditary And I feel your felonies burn in my veins Causing avalanches in despair to cover my brain Because what you don’t realize is as the youngest sibling I inherited everyone’s pain. Even your's.
It’s a city from the outside, Shining on a hill But from the inside looking out It’s just another jail
It sometimes feels like the city walls are pressing in, suffocating me, but I can’t leave, at least not yet. Soon, though, I’ll be leaving; soon... I just have to remember to breathe long enough to get there.