Green Windows Writing

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Excerpts from writing done in
Green Windows workshops.

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Beauty to me is when I wake
up in my own house, in my own
bed, in my own room

Beauty to me is when I walk
outside my house, surrounded by the
orchards that look amazing in the morning sun

Beauty to me is when my mom
dad, sister and niece have that
wonderful warm smile

Beauty to me is when I wake
up in the morning and my baby
niece is yelling
I go to get her, she’s lying
down playing with baby feet

Beauty to me is when I go
to pick her up and she has her big ol’ smile
like always

- Jose

My Community

There’s bandos left and right
Drug dealers on every corner
Pimps and hoes at night
Illegal tendencies plague my streets
But I can’t imagine anywhere else to sleep.

I love my hood and everyone in it
I love the smell, taste and feel
And to see it seems surreal.
Now, my community may not appeal to some
But I can’t imagine claiming another one.

In my community
We are like a family
We are not segregated
But inseparable.
We live close together
Even if we are far apart
And there is always a place for my community
In my heart.

- Lil Rob

Freedom To Me

To me, freedom is waking up whenever I want.
To me, freedom is eating whatever and whenever I want.
To me, freedom is choosing my next move.
To me, freedom is driving wherever I want with friends.
To me, freedom is sleeping in my house, not a unit.
To me, freedom is spending time with my little brother.
To me, freedom is having the option o walk wherever I want.
To me, freedom is FREEDOM.

- Muhammad


    The place I feel the safest is the same place I hate being.
    Even though I am not free in this place, I do get to have a good night’s sleep without having to wake up wondering if any of my friends got hit by the gun shots I just heard, or having to keep my gun off safety just in case I seen them suckas. I like being able to chill without looking over my shoulder all the time.
    Also my mom is able to sleep good because she knows I’m safe and knows I’m not in the ambulance when she hears them sirens. It’s crazy that society has come to that.

- Bryant

My Childhood Was Crumpled

Just one question I wanted to ask
but it was left behind like a poor rough draft.
I need you to be quiet, were the words she said
In this den, we come as one, like a loaf of bread

Love and hate are like a brother and a sister
I’m from da sewer, da gutta
don’t kiss her.

I seek another life
my childhood was trife.

Dark up in this room
Someone please turn on the lights.

We are bright
Don’t let the odds try take you down,
Poverty as they say
yeah we rose from da ground
straight sound
No sleep
pray for ma soul to keep.

- Jordan

By young men in the maximum security unit
of the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center. 2015 
Copyright held with the authors. 

A Peaceful Jade

David Hokes

First you make me like a Gold Love.
Then you change and make me a Bluely Depressed.
But whenever you touch me, I change to a Lovable Fire Red.
Oh, how you make me feel a Red Relief
But then change and turn me curious like Black Joy.
I get you can be filled with Orangey Rage
But I will always try to make you a Lovely Pink
Or if I could, I would make you a Peaceful Jade.
Oh, I wonder how a Sea Greeny Kindness can mix with Happiness
That is Sky Blue.
All I really know is that I want our Love to stay at a
Peaceful Jade!

From the chapbook In Written Color.  
Written in the Green Windows workshop
at Chestnut Linden Court Apartments, summer 2010.
Copyright held with the 17-year-old author. 

I’m From The City of Broken Dreams

by Jamir

I’m from the city of broken dreams,
    where people among my city die
Before age of fifty.
    Where we got fake pimps,
Players, haters, ballers and things.
    But yet we don’t play around.
Some people are willing to lose everything,
Just to lay someone down.

I am from a place of lies,
    and the land of thieves.
And just ‘cause they’re hungry they’ll do all kinds of things.
    It’s not supposed to be like
That and I shouldn’t have ended up like this.

So I blame where I’m from,
    for the reason I rock like this.

From the chapbook Each Street Tells a New Story
Written in the Green Windows workshop at Camp Wilmont Sweeney, spring 2010.
Copyright held with the 17-year-old author.

So why must old situations

trap themselves in new oxygen and cause more contemplation

I blow them out just to inhale

you again

Am I here today?

I feel like I got lost in the midst of last week


I love you too like

bone loves off-white

& I want you like

life needs light

Excerpt from "Voices" by a 17-year-old who holds the copyright. Used with permission.
Written in the Green Windows workshop at Youth UpRising, summer 2008. 

The Coin

By Catherine Parker

When I was much younger my older brother attended the College of Magic so that he could learn to be a magician. Each Wednesday afternoon he’d ride his bike from school to the college where he’d learn magic tricks from older magician teachers. He’d come home afterwards still wearing his tuxedo with a red bow tie and cummerbund and the bag on his shoulder would be brimming with new magic props.

The ritual was the same each week. As soon as he’d ride through the front gates of our house, I’d run up to him in the driveway and follow him to the garage where he parked his bike. On the way I’d nag him continuously until he’d show me his latest trick.

One particular Wednesday, I was, as usual, pestering him to show me what he’d learned. He ignored me for a while, as was customary with us, but eventually he replied with mock exasperation.

“Oh alright,” he sighed, stopping outside the front door. “Today,” he paused dramatically as Houdini might have, “today, I’m going to read your mind.”

I followed him inside, riveted.

We sat down on the lounge carpet. From his pocket he pulled out his wallet: a bright blue, velcroed affair that he’d received from the bank a year earlier with his “eight and over” Autobank debit card. I had the same one, only it was the junior version for younger kids under seven.

The Velcro fastener crunched as he opened its coin pocket. He held it out to me.

“Now,” he said, “reach into the coin section and take out a coin. Any coin. And don’t let me see which one.”

Eagerly, I reached inside the pocket and gripped one of the coins with my tiny pink-nailed fingers. Watching him carefully to make sure he hadn’t seen which one I’d picked, I concealed it tightly in my fist. I withdrew my hand and put it behind my back. The coin felt cool and comforting.

“Good,” he said. “Now, I want you to turn around, and look at the coin in your hand. But whatever you do, don’t let me see it.”

I stood up and turned around (doing a ballerina twirl so my chiffon ballet skirt would flair) and carefully peered into my half-opened fist.

“Ok, I know what it is,” I said, looking back at him over my shoulder to check that he hadn’t seen it too.

“Good,” he said. “Now, turn around, sit down, and put the coin back into the coin pocket. Don’t let me see it.”

I did as I was instructed. I sat back down and carefully placed the coin back into its pocket, my six-year-old hands struggling with the dexterity that this task required.

Closing the coin pocket, my brother picked up his magic wand that had been lying next to us on the carpet. He waved it over the wallet, declaring, “Abracadabra! Abracadabra!” After a few seconds of spell-casting, he set the wand back down on the floor and emptied the contents of the coin pocket into his hand. About six or seven coins lay in his palm. They were all different and I could see which one was mine. One by one, he picked them up, examining each one carefully before discarding it on the carpet. Then he picked up the coin I had chosen. I watched him closely, and saw that he began to study it more carefully than the rest, turning it over and over in his hand. He looked up at me, triumphant.

“This is it. This is your coin.”

The admiration was obvious on my face, and he basked in it, even if I was just his little sister. Even though years would pass before I’d learn that he’d detected the coin from the warmth my little hand had transferred to it, the trick remained, to me, magic.

Written in the Green Windows weekly group, fall 2008.
Copyright held by the author. Used with permission. 

Where Color Leads

By Peggy Simmons

I grayed my anger to appease your
violet gladness, so rare without
the black tinge of regret.

I led my confusion into a turquoise sea
and asked it to just float,
just wait for the red-orange
glee of sunset, without drifting
into blue-green depths of anxiety.

I wear my jeans into holes
like I wear my depression
into action, into reaction,
into an everyday comfort
that compares only to itself
and to desire.

Written in the Green Windows workshop at Youth UpRising, summer 2008.
Copyright held by the author. Used with permission. 

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