“I am a poet at heart. I love to dance. I am fun-loving, energetic and so into the poet realms. I enjoy poetry slams, cafe houses and all.” -Marketta

About eight years ago, Brandon Crockett began teaching a poetry class at St. Leonard’s Ministries, a halfway house for individuals recently released from prison on Chicago’s near west side. He went there, fresh out of college, with the anticipation that he would cause a paradigm shift for the residents and help them change their lives.

What ended up happening was far different.

“It quickly became clear to me that the difference between those who spend time in prison and those who don’t is negligible, at best,” says Crockett. “True, our circumstances vary, but we all have the ability to choose how we respond to our current situation in the ever-present now. It is in this that I choose to place my faith. And it is here that freedom is found.”

This is part 1 of 4, The Halfway House Poets: Words of Faith by Former Inmates. To see all of the videos, visit our YouTube channel.

by Marketta

The beginning of my life was happy
God called my mother home in 1994
And my life became crappy.
I lived with my toxic auntie and cousin
A life around drugs, abuse, people stealing from me
And cursing.
I grew up fast, nobody checked on me
End up with 13 years of pain in the penitentiary.
I never gave up on the faith of a mustard seed
Show you how fast your life can be snatched away
So take heed.
Least likely one to go to prison and do time
God had another plan in line.
He purged me to be the woman you see
My faith through all my pain triumphed
A greater me.
I am free from toxic bondage that held me down
I can have a true smile
Instead of a frown.