WFR at The Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility

I guess it has always been common for adults to talk down about the younger generation. You know the drill. They have no values. They have no ambition. They aren't as talented, or as creative. Their music is terrible. But I recently spent five weeks with the amazing kids at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility in Colchester Vermont leading a Writers for Recovery workshop, and I am here to tell you that the news about young people is good. 

The students at Woodside, were smart, friendly, creative, and fantastic writers. They were willing to take a chance on a total stranger, to put hard truths on the page, and to share them. Oh, and the hard truths weren't all of it. As you will see as you read the work that follows, they wrote with not only fearless honesty but with introspection, imagination, and an outright wacky sense of humor. The time I spent at Woodside was one of the highlights of my summer. I want to send my heartfelt thanks to the students and their incredible x 10 teachers for sharing their time and their work with me.

What follows is the text of the reading the students did at the end of the workshop. To protect confidentiality, all works are presented anonymously. Read on, and be amazed. 


Something That’s Really Hard for Me...

 I find it hard to trust, to communicate, to open up.

All the burnt bridges I’ve caused,

I find it hard to look em’ straight in the face.

As I look out the window, I find it hard not to cry.

As I think about the past, I find it hard not to blame myself.

As I think about my weight, I find it hard not to purge.

As I look in the mirror, I find it hard not to turn away.

When I wake up shaking, I find it hard not to cut.

When I think about love, I find it hard not to hide.

When I think about Jamaica, I find it hard not to dream.

When I think about life, it’s hard for me not to say screw it...



Finally I understood why my Mom committed suicide,

Finally I understood that everything happens for a reason, that not everything is perfect,

Finally I understood why people always walk out of my life,

Finally I understood why I make the choices I make,

Finally I understood why I’m sitting in Woodside,

Finally I understood why people s*** on me,

Finally I understood why My dad is sitting in jail,

Finally I understood that the world does not revolve around me,

Finally I understood why why is not a good question,

Finally I understand why people tell me I’m a good sister,

Finally I understand that you can overcome anything you want to

as long as you are determined to overcome it.

Finally I understood why people give me chances,

Finally I understood to take what people say with a grain of salt

Finally I understood life is hard for a reason and that reason is to push people past what they can handle because you can handle way more than you think you can.


Ode to a Taco

 Oh taco, you are so good but you make a mess

I love that you are so meaty for me and 

neatly with a lot of spice.

Oh taco you lay on my plate.

Wait until I tuck you in so you can sleep in my body with that nice feel.

And you fill my gut.    


I Am the One Who

I am the one who took the cookies from the jar

and gave them to a troll under a bridge.

And the troll gave the cookies to a princess.

And the princess found love so the princess gave

The cookies to an elf

And the elf


Ate the cookies.


I Am From

I am from the city of drug addicts and criminal behavior.

I am from a home laced with domestic violence.

I am from the worst walk of life.

I am from a place that fighting is average and walking teens is all you see.

They are on an adventure to find the next high.

I am from a place I call luxury; others might not see it that way.

I am from a town known for drug dealers.

I am from a toxic place I call



I Am the One Who

I am the one who

Makes poems like this:

Monkeys are weird

Monkeys are cool

Monkeys are sweet

Just like you!












Roses are red

Violets are blue

Roses smell good

and so do you.


Snakes are slimy.

They slither all over you.

They are weird, just like snails


Floating like a butterfly stinging like a bee

Eating some food because I’m so hungry!


I Am the One Who

I am the one who

Is called brother

The one called grandchild

The one who is called son

The one called Friend

But I am the one who gets pushed to the edge

I am the one who sees nothing but hears the whispers that say:

Brother, Grandchild, Son, Friend


I Am From

I am from a place called home

I am from a place with trees and stones

I am from rolling hills and feather manes

I am from a roaring river

I am from a placid lake

I am from a place no other

I am from a place called home


I Am From

I am from a place called home

I am from a place with trees and stones

I am from rolling hills and feather manes

I am from a roaring river

I am from a placid lake

I am from a place no other

I am from a place called home


I Am the One Who...

Tires, I am the one who makes a beginning

the one who learns from his mistakes and moves on from them

The one who likes to forgive and take chances.

I am a person who shows others how to do things from experience,

I am a man who has a personality of kind

who loves to play sports and teach the little ones when he has time.

I’ve learned from all the mistakes I had chosen and believed in fate.

Taking Forgiveness from my friends and family is an importance in what I am.

I now will take things as an honor and move on with them while I still can.


Ode to Chocolate Covered Blueberries

Chocolate covered blueberrries,

just writing the name makes me melt in my seat.

I could eat them three meals a day without no complaint.

The way they explode in my mouth, it’s like a day in heaven.

Angels soaring thru the sky, even the devil comin’ out to sneak a peak.

Oh boy, they’re so delicious.

I would jump in front of a train to catch a bag

oh yes I would

my life depends...



 Some words I wish I could take back are

I’m a failer or you’re not worth my time.

I am all about hurting people verbally when I’m upset

not just others, myself included

I wish I could take back saying goodbye to people

because goodbye means forever and forever scares me.

I wish I could take back telling my mother that she’s a druggy and she’s just going to die.

I told her that and guess what?

She is 6 feet under from her usage of drugs.

I wish I could take back all the hurtful things I said to myself and others

and lift them up instead of bringing them down.

It’s not just words I wish I could take back.

It’s also all the dumb choices I have made.

I wish I could take back everything that has hurt me or others.

But guess what?

Not everything is perfect

And I can learn from my mistakes,

I also believe everything happens for a reason!!!!!!!


Something Thats Really Hard for Me...

Having to Say No

Accepting the Consequence for Not enjoying the results,

Having to take things further than expected.

Not liking the truth,

Staying at these placements that aren’t meant for me

Having to feel pain,

having to now feel that words are cheap

That they meant nothing.

I’ve now taken my life to something

that’s really hard for me

taking it to a place that’s going beyond deep step.


The Strain of Five Broken Souls

The strain of five broken souls

Souls that came with a flame

But the flame was no match for the gust of shame

Five souls out of love

Five souls from heaven above

Five souls that deserved the love



One day you buy a necklace that you discover make you fluent in any language.

Astronauts land on a distant planet.

As soon as they open the shuttle door they see the most amazing sight.

A group of students are hiking,

When they come across a gold egg at that very moment it hatches.

You’re in the middle of a coffee shop, and time grinds to halt.

One morning Jessica wakes up and realizes that she is magnetic.

you meet a girl who, when she closes her eyes she can see the entire universe.

She has a twin brother who, when he closes his eyes he can see the fabric of time itself.

A light in your backyard gets brighter and brighter, until . . . Flash!  Flash!  Flash!

Grim, steeler, crush, toke, scorian

A planet exactly like Earth but one big difference.


Finally I Understood the Truth...

How things happen

How it cannot be solved

First it hits then it becomes a mystery,

Realizing what’s left to understand.

Having to vandalize your friends

not knowing which direction you’re going

not knowing the decisions you have left .

Finally I understood why?

The truth?

Your Right from wrongs...


I Am From

I am from-

Long lost places that have little meaning.

I am from long back roads that don’t have traffic,

I am from feeling the wind in our hair from having the top down.

I am from the small town turn around,

a place we all meet on Sunday to see the clash of the modified cars

I am from the occasional mix of blood and grease falling from our fingertips.

I am from the backwoods where we all know what we have done.

But at the end of the day, we sit down in this place that I am from

to see all the scars we have made from this little town.


Gary Miller1 Comment