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Manuel, 35
Incarcerated: 17 years
Housed: Kern Valley State Prison, California

By the Grace of God

My heart’s been shattered. I’ve been beaten and tossed.

Like a tiny pebble drifting to the bottom of a pond.

I’ve fallen from Heaven 

and I’ve walked through Hell. 

But yet I’m pressing on!

You know how metaphysically 

they say one’s on the edge? 

Well that’s where I ended up 

I’d walked that bridge

instead of jumping to my death 

it’s as if I had grown wings

And I flew

I did not wish to die

nor did I yearn to kill! 

I simply couldn’t take no more 

and surely couldn’t feel

Somewhere in that transformation 

I’d realize what was real

false pride layered on my mind 

would start to peel

It layeth at my feet 

and without it 

I would heal

My smile became genuine

My laughter was a thrill 

My spirit felt like ice on fire

burning with a chill! 

My cup was overfloweth 

though I’d yet to have my fill

I’m looking to the future

with these hands 

what will I build? 

and moving with a love 

by the grace of God I wield.

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