top of page

Poetry by Al'Jonan Coleman, incarcerated poet

Al'Jonan headshot.png

Al'Jonan, a poet, an actor, and a co-directer of IT'S A HARD TRUTH AIN'T IT, 

is currently incarcerated at Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Is This Your Life

Inspired by the true stories told in


Is this your life

Where violence is the order of the day

Disfunction all around you, no more do you feel safe

Overlooking opportunities, unaware of what they are

Fearful of moving ahead, picking at your scars

Is this your life

Where middle class is not enough

Great support from mom, but the streets show you love

Your names ring a bell like a pistol in your hand

Quit the 9-to-5 'cause you out here gettin' a Benz

Is this your life

Overwhelmed by addiction

A parent at heart but not there for your children

Drugs at the home left the family picture tainted

Now you have regrets, it's a hard truth ain't it

Is this your life

Hustling to get the bills paid

Giving your mom money at thirteen years of age

Full-fledge with it, a fighter by choice

You Radio Raheem, you ain't turnin' down the noise

Is this your life

Where they pack weapons like the army

The whole hood represent the essence like a zombie

Friends become enemies over drugs and loose change

An environment that breeds no love, just new games

If this is your life

You don't want to end up here

In prison they count decades like countin' the years

The crime ain't worth the time

That's a true statement

This ain't the life you want

And you – have the power to change it

Before Covid-19

Before Covid 19, I was isolated from my loved ones, as much as I wanted to, I couldn't kiss or hug them...

Before Covid 19, I couldn't social distance, the flu and staff infection was our social sickness...then the virus came and restricted us even more, one "bye" one, I watched this disease stealthly spread through the dorm...

Before Covid 19, I made choices out of desperation, now the world seems to lack clarity, I wonder what indecisiveness is creating...

Before Covid 19, I was seen as an essential, working for the D.O.C., so that it could reach its potential...25 cents an hour, no stimulus pack, and a lockdown didn't keep me, from putting food in sacks...

Before Covid 19, inmates appeared to be different, how quickly times have changed, now the globes in a prison...unable to leave, so we search for freedom of the mind, only to be reminded, we still are confined...

If that was me before covid, imagine how much morbid, my circumstances have become, from the lack of resources...If society had it bad before this happened, then we've been incarcerated, needing a vaccine full of compassion...

When I think of Chuck

Dedicated to Charles Lawrence, who plays Patrick in O.G. and is co-director of


Charles passed away in prison due to Covid-19.

When I think of Chuck - I'll be forever mindful of how we embraced each other for support, to discover ways through the fog and the despair that distorts...We both agreed, that people need to look within themselves for change, Chuck was truly a cultivator, of every type of grain…


When I think of Chuck - I think about us training dogs and a moment we had, when he asked me for help and I was surprised he boosted my confidence because he affirmed my worth, he recognized my potential and caused it to emerge…


When I think of Chuck - I recall that my guy was solid, he wasn't real to one but everybody…He once told me to exploit my gifts but I didn't want to sing in the choir, but he encouraged me to be bigger than myself, and helping others is vital…


When I think of Chuck - he came off cool in any setting, kept a positive vibe and that smile, I won't forget it...I believe he'd still be alive if the state would have acquitted his case, a time served plea to Chuck was a slap in the face…


When I think of Chuck - I'm reminded of the weight pile, he told me I was lifting wrong, so of course I put the weight down, and this was the first time we met but he was genuine in his approach, he's been a blessing ever since, and that was 17 years ago...


When I think of Chuck – he was someone who wouldn't allow you to settle, he was all about motivating you, to become better...His death disturbed me, boy was it heavy, he was my friend, and I miss him already…


When I think of Chuck – I consider tough love and twenty years of memories, he was known as "Big Chuck" to most, but God knows he was a dear friend to me...Death separated the threads and unstitched the fabrics of what we built, but he will always be apart of my destiny, what I accomplish along this journey, is, his dream fulfilled…


When I think of Chuck – he was bold and genuine in his own skin, he picked you up when he gave out hugs, but his true strength came from within...when someone like Chuck can be vulnerable and reveal the love he has for his wife, causes a hope to arise in you, because he made it all, seem alright…

Written by Al'Jonan Coleman, inspired by the memories of Darnell Williams, Eric Simmons, RuShawn Tanksley, Ronald Covington, Corey Spurlock, Michael Vance, Mark Thacker, and Steve Spears.

The Liberator's Chains

I've been told that I'm free to roam, I can settle down and make a home, live a life that I've always hope for, restricted living, no more...but what if I told you that I was still bound, to a cause that should be over now, due to the fact that there still are slaves, and until they're loosed, I'm still in chains...

I'm a liberated liberator arrested by my conscious, fully aware of those I've left behind, whose destiny is darkness...lest I become a conductor like Harriet Tubman, the shadows will be their domain, as long as their freedom is in question, then I'm still in chains...

There is a statue in New York, I know what it represents, but I wonder if Lady Liberty is all together convinced...that her intents were accomplished or does she notice in shame, that some are still waiting for a promise fulfilled, if so, she too, is still in chains...

Freedom comes with responsibility, initially, to "again" avoid bondage, but now I'm incarcerated by a civil duty, to relieve others of their problems...though I can leave at anytime, compassion keeps me restrained, to unlock the doors of the oppressed, to all are free, I'm still in chains...

I'm a liberated liberator arrested by my conscious, fully aware of those I've left behind, whose destiny is darkness...if I don't reach back to help, then I've forgot from whence I came, because I now hold the key, for those who are still in chains...

bottom of page