Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Feb 25
I Am Not From Nowhere


I’m from a town of death, drugs and storms

I’m from a street where a color can get your skin punctured like a thorn does your thumb

Sound of violence leaves your heart numb

So you grow up protecting yourself with a gun

I’m from a street where when you see the cops you hide or run

If you sell drugs you should buy a gun

If you are scared to put in work

You should go to church

Because in these streets if you are soft you will get really hurt

It makes you cry and wonder when you see your homie dead with 30 bullet holes in his shirt

So if you wanna survive turn your life over to god and go to church

And when people ask do you wanna bag or sling say no

So you don’t end up on a shirt

JR* is a young man with gravitas beyond his years. While we wrote he was quiet and focused; the lines of his poem emerged with facility. He wrote with confidence and clear-eyed sincerity. He knows of what he speaks. The last line of his poem gives me a visceral reaction. It's simultaneously prosaic and profound. (*a pseudonym)

— Kathleen, Mentor at Detention Project