DVSJA Poem, Jacqueline Velez, June 2011


Picnics in the park, dinner on the bay,

walking hand in hand.

What went wrong?

I cannot understand.

How did I end up here?

So in love, sweet words spoken,

vows taken, vows honored, vows broken.

Did I offend you by talking back?

Did I provoke you?

All I did was speak up for myself

when I thought I was right.

I wasn’t being disrespectful,

I didn’t want to fight.

How did I end up here?

What I thought was being humble perhaps

was being too lenient,

I tried to keep peace for the sake of the kids.

That was all too convenient.

Open hands to closed pounding fists,hands around my waist turned to hands around my neck.

I was tolerant while being abused,

I truly loved you.

I was beyond submissive


for all my attempts you were dismissive.

How did I end up here?

Maybe it was shame,

maybe it was pride,

maybe it was fear.

I cannot believe my inert state was premeditated,

was it due to a bunch of things piling up that eventually escalated?

How could I have known

all those physical altercations would become complicationsa prelude to emptiness, darkness, and desolation?

A prelude to the perils,

lying under the swelling in the ground.

I can’t feel the water on my toes, can’t utter a word, I can’t hear a sound.

How did I end up here?

I don’t know

do not forget what lies beneath the flowers growing and blooming so beautifully….Me!

Along the way I might’ve stopped wanting to live, perhaps I lost the will. Help others, help themselves, pass this bill, so we can live to see another day.

Support DVSJA!

Click here to listen to Jacqueline Velez read her DVSJA Poem.

Jacqueline Velez

Jacqueline Velez is the Project Assistant for the Correctional Association’s Women in Prison Project. In her role, Jacqueline handles a wide range of administrative tasks and assists in all aspects of the Project’s work, including coordinating the Coalition for Women Prisoners and its three Committees, carrying out policy advocacy campaigns, and organizing advocacy events and activities. She is a Spring 2007 graduate of ReConnect, the Project’s advocacy and leadership training program for formerly incarcerated women. She is also a graduate of the Women’s Prison Association’s Women’s Advocacy Program. She is currently interning at WBAI as a productions and communications intern for the show “On the Count: The Prison and Criminal Justice Report.” She lives in Queens with her 16 year old daughter.