Recent Success Stories
|Artwork from Curtis Manzano|
|Poem from LaRevista Magazine|
|Article from DeBug Magazine|
|Heart of Chaos Artisan Collective|
Augustin Obregon was incarcerated when he was eleven years old and he spent most of his teenage years in the juvenile court system for a series of gang related crimes. Being incarcerated meant being at the mercy of those inmates and guards who were stronger than he was. He suffered nightmares and found release and some peace of mind in his writing. When I met him, he was eighteen and still writing poetry. He moved away from San Jose without leaving his contact information before I could tell him that one of his poems was published in LaRevista magazine. Three of his poems appear below.
At one time in life everybody is wrong. Sometimes they’re weak but sometimes they’re strong. I think the most wrong are the judges and the 5-0 ‘cause they take us away before we can grow. Was I wrong ‘cause I wanted to live large? Or maybe ‘cause I tried to take charge, or are they wrong for trying to send me out of state–the absolute worst way for someone to hate. Now I go to court for another debate. Trying to explain that this won’t set me straight. But they have so many problems they don’t want to listen. So now I set off on another impossible mission. I try to tell the fakers that they’re playing it out. They’re wrong to hate me when they don’t know what I’m about. Nobody knows that I was wrongly accused. And won’t accept my accusation why drugs were used. Was I wrong to try and escape reality through the use of a drug or even more wrong to grab my nine and release another slug? Throughout my life long battle, was I ever right? Is it wrong to not surrender til I come out a champ? Or is it the right thing to be sure my family don’t need no food stamps? Is it wrong to hate cops and have love for money? So I could have Tylenol when my sister’s nose is runny? Was it wrong to want to have a nice roof over my head. and fight for survival so I don’t end up dead? Was I wrong to try and keep my body out of a casket? And if I didn’t have an intelligent question was it wrong not to ask it? Is it wrong to hate someone with no love for me? And before I get caught to turn around and flee? So before you place judgment and say where I belong. Will you please tell me who was really wrong.
The Mirror Image
When I look in the mirror, I see the face of a child who evidently grew up too fast. Whose eyes are damaged from shattered glass, who asks serious questions but receives answers with mordant laughs. The mirror image, what I see is a youngster suffering from emotional instability, born and grew up into a lie, so lying became a proclivity, smothered with incapability destined to numerous stays at juvenile facilities, mentally ill, deprived of a remedy.
In this mirror, the image is becoming clearer, a grimace, an oppressed brown man trying to survive in the land that is infested with insidious klans with heinous plans to annihilate, nothing more, nothing less. Inundating hatred throughout the world, destroying the minds of precious little boys and girls. The message is pellucid, if you stare closely you'll see the pain inside his eyes. The vulnerable pain he's feeling from the past, present and future tribulations of his life, the suffering from mania, obsessive sexual desires. Eternal hatred for liars, obsessed with fire, only himself he admires, because he's the only one that's real, solipsist, everyone else is a fatuous sapless(?) well, that's his opinion, but he can't prove it, his mind is disintegrating, too many pieces, he's starting to lose it.
After spending unreasonable time contemplating why the pieces don't fit into this paradoxical puzzle, he searches for the manual, but apparently puzzles do not come with instructions, mental malfunction, nothing is ever right, but everything is always wrong.
The mirror image shows a young man confined to the basements of hell, martyred by the freedom he will ironically receive when his sentence is completed, I use the word ironically because its ironic to tell a brown man he'll be free, free from what my definition of freedom is death until then excruciation runs rampant destroying the lives of all who are labeled inferior, inducing scars that heal on the exterior, the cause of cicatrices within the interior, that never heal. The image in the mirror is distorted, but very distinguishable, not too many people cover their faces with mud, the resemblance of how he has been treated throughout his lifetime, not too many people dyed their hair gray, resemblance of how he feels which is old, very old, he's dying his nightmares, which are perpetual, are killing him slowly but gradually. He who lives his days in distraught similar to a million-mile maze, what's the point of going on with the journey he often says to himself, He is I, the mirror image, the image in the mirror.
I am alive but not willingly. The depression inside me kills me slowly and painfully. It eats away at my soul and has devoured my heart. I can feel my soul leaving my body an inch farther each day. I can feel it leaving, going to swim in the sea of memories and again getting crushed by the waves of time. And I'm sure when it leaves I will feel no different, a half person.
I talk of dying, I talk of death. But I know what I talk of, I don't have the will to achieve. I sometimes wish I could tell it to leave. That part of me that I loved but never loved me back. That part of me that plays with and harrasses my heart. And it stays, I try to disguise it but it is sometimes revealed, Because it is me, Nothing more and nothing less. It controls me more than I tell it to. And although it is my curse, it just as much my power. And I know one day I'll be able to find my lost soul. And then I will be complete.
A Gangster’s Prayer
Now I lay myself down to sleep, protect me God from those who creep, with evil plots and wicked schemes, to snatch me from my restful dreams.
I know there are bad things I have done. That's why I'm sleeping with my gun, and if I should be startled from my peaceful slumber, my gun will roar like blasts of thunder.
Got to fight to live just one more day so many things to do, so many words to say.
But if it's my time to go and my life's to be taken, just leave me in my dreams, never to be awakened.
My whole life's a constant struggle, from the cradle to the grave. Got me thinking like a criminal, sick of being treated like a slave.
I must behave like a soldier 'cause the world keeps getting colder. Got me peeping out the window and looking over my shoulder.
Forgive me Lord, I know I have sinned, but you alone know the places I have been. The words that I heard and the actions I saw, made me learn how to run before I could crawl.
You can't grow up around here and remain unchanged and unblemished. The violence is graphic and the crimes are horrendous.
Is there repentance for a thug? Is there a heaven for a gangster? Could I give my mom a hug?
Before I go I'd like to thank her. My first partner in this fight. Against all odds we began our plight, to survive, in a place where staying alive is a constant race.
Watch my back and trust no man. Beware of lust, I must understand.
There'll be problems along the way. I might not solve them all in just one day.
By staying true and remaining strong. I would make it through. I must carry on.
No time to cry because the troubles never end, never end. Just hold my head high so my back doesn't bend.
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