Editor's Note: As part of our Kids@Risk series, we occasionally publish prose and poetry from at-risk youth. The poem and essay below were written by teenage girls who are currently serving time in the state's juvenile detention system. The works were created in the Pongo Teen Writing program, a volunteer nonproft that uses writing to help young people heal.
“Unwanted” looks like an empty baseball stadium, littered with broken glass, beer cans, pill bottles left from the group you went there with.
“Unwanted” smells like an old book that’s been on the shelf for so long, collecting dust. It’s a book about family.
“Unwanted” tastes like sand in the middle of the desert during the day. You’re dehydrated, can’t find anywhere, anyone. You’re isolated.
“Unwanted” sounds like the quiet ringing in your ear when you’re sitting in your lonely cell.
“Unwanted” feels like reaching out for something, but never being able to grab it.
— 14-year-old girl in juvenile detention, 2013
I just thought you should know what I’m doing now. I’m addicted to drugs and in juvie a lot. I am an unloved person who spends a lot of time doing drugs to feel better and not abandoned.
I just thought you should know how I’m feeling. I just hate you. I hate my dad, too. I hate you because you left me one night when I was 7 and never came back. The police broke down the door to take me to foster care. But even before that you brought home men who hurt me and did bad things to me. I hate you for pimping me out. I hate you for packing my nose full of white powder, which is why I have breathing problems now. I hate you for getting me into drugs. I hate you because I ended up in a gang. I hate you.
I just thought you should know what I’ve been through. Since the last time I saw you I’ve been in more foster homes than I can count, but 45-50% of them were abusive. I always ran, but the system found me, didn’t believe me, and put me in another, and another. The time that I was going to be adopted was especially important. They came and picked me, and I lived in their house for a week before they found out about my history and they sent me back.
I just thought you should know what I wish for the future. I hope that somehow I can yell at you without having to see you, to blame all this crap on you. Though it would do nothing for me, at least I wouldn’t have to hold it inside any longer.
I just thought you should know what I don’t miss about you ... I don’t miss you at all. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about you leaving me again and not coming back.
I just thought you should know that there is nothing at all that I miss about you.
I just thought you should know that no matter what, you’ll always be my mom, and I’ll always love you.
— 13-year-old girl in juvenile detention
UNWANTED and DEAR MOM were created in the Pongo Teen Writing program, a volunteer nonproft that works with young people in jail, on the streets or in some other way leading difficult lives to express themselves through writing.
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