I don’t know where it all went wrong.
A seed was planted where it did not belong.
Brick City, Newark, to be exact.
Recognize Jersey—it’s not just a dot on the map.
Prince Street, where the kid got his start.
PSP True to the Heart.
Summertime cookouts, chillin’ in the park—
the heat wasn’t turned up ‘til it got dark.
Tag, hide-n-go-seek, hot peas and butter—
we played in the streets that most called the gutter.
Got introduced to weed at a very young age.
Believe me, the kid got paid.
In no time at all, I was clocking weight.
My parents said I was crooked, but my pockets were straight.
Gold rope, three-finger ring, diamonds on hand.
I held the title. Yeah, I was the man.
Slamming Nine Eights, Lincolns, and Cadillac doors,
pulling up to five-stars, red carpet on the floor.
Got locked down, with no intention to stop.
48 hours and I’m back on the block.
Untouchable—or was I diggin’ a hole?
5Gs a day. You play poker—would you fold?
Graduated: started using heroin.
Lost all I had.
Haunting words from Mom:
You’re just like your Dad.
To all of you who would say, “It’s only weed”—
plant your feet in the Garden of Drugs,
for you too are a seed.
“I started writing poetry in 1984 or ’85. I was incarcerated and it was Mother’s Day. I wrote my mother a poem called, ‘A Mother’s Love.’ And when I called home and asked her did she get the poem, I could hear in her voice that she had tears in her eyes and that the poem really touched her heart. She said, ‘I didn’t know you had nothing in you like that.’ And I didn’t know I had nothing in me like that until I really sat down and thought about what to say to my mother. From that moment on I felt inspired to start writing. It came to me naturally.
“For me, the ASC Creative Writing Workshop’s been great. It gives me a chance to express myself even more and to be noticed, not only at ASC, but in New York City because of getting my poems published in ASC’s literary magazine, Situations.
“Now my wife Sindy and I are running our own creative writing workshop in Brooklyn at the Salvation Army. We’re trying to show people how to set up poetry. I make a point of letting them know that just because my poetry rhymes doesn’t mean your poetry has to rhyme. It just has to have meaning.”
—Gene A. Barclay
Gene A. Barclay has been an active member of ASC’s weekly Creative Writing Workshop for over a year. His poems have appeared in Situations 7 and are forthcoming in Situations 8.