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C l e a n Wat e r i s E asy to Dr i nk Writing from Women at Serendipity

NY Writers Coalition Press SPRING 2016


Copyright © 2016 NY Writers Coalition, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-9964012-7-2 Library of Congress Control Number: 2016947107

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Upon publication, copyright to individual works returns to the authors. Editor: Colleen Breslin Layout: Daisy Flores Cover Image: Kate Chikina Title: The Addicted Poet Clean Water is Easy to Drink contains writing by members of NY Writers Coalition’s workshop at Serendipity II, a residential substance abuse treatment center NY Writers Coalition Press, Inc. 80 Hanson Place, Suite 604 Brooklyn, NY 11217 (718) 398-2883




Contents For ew or d Quanda Woody Original Writing

The Addicted Poet


Sean Banks


Michelle Crawford


Shanta England


Miri Klau


Ines Sambucini Erica Stevenson


Quanda Woody




About NY Writers Coalition Inc.







Have you ever asked God a question? And got an answer? Well, that is exactly what happened to me. On January 15 th, 2015, I asked God, “Is this where I am supposed to be?” That is because I am at a residential treatment center in Brooklyn named Serendipity II, and still am. I had only been at Serendipity II a week when I asked God my questions, and I was tired and wanting to leave. At the same time, I had in my hand a book of poetry called Madonna. This book, which was published by NY Writers Coalition, had been sent to me by my son before I arrived at Serendipity II, and I brought it along for comfort.

Well anyway, this small book had a picture of the Madonna at the Cloisters in Fort Tyron Park, New York-on its cover. As I asked my question, I opened this book and there it was, my answer from God. And I quote: “settled in a corner at a community room named Luck situated in a house of recovery named Serendipity II.” Could you possibly imagine my shock? God has a wonderful sense of humor. We only need to be listening to laugh.


We the ladies at Serendipity II are proud to be able to write our poems, short stories and dreams. Thanks to NY Writers Coalition for having a workshop with us at Serendipity II-and sending us the most amazing instructors to help us develop our skills. To see ourselves as published writers is one of our dreams come true. We thank you for seeing our potential to write-the light, creativity and wisdom upon which this potential is built-because as recovering addicts, we need someone to recognize that we are so much more.

Quanda Woody Serendipity II Workshop Participant

Spring 2016




Addictive Season The Addicted Poet

Yes it’s here The addictive season Yeah, people get high in the winter Spring and fall But none of them touch getting high in the summertime at all People hanging out in the streets all times of the day and night hooking up or having fights. Having fun drinking and drugging Ladies dressing up in their finest gear Waiting for the sun to go down so they can go clubbing Children running up and down the block or riding bikes and having water balloon fights. But they have to go in before dark cause bullets fly on these summer nights Innocent people fall For no reason at all Silly people shooting guns Never shooting the right one

While innocent bystanders are only outside trying to enjoy the weather and have fun.


Bang Bang Bang Goes the sound of the gun. No surprise. Another one. But we turn on the news and find out who got hurt or died today. All of this on these hot ass days If we could only find guidance, someone to show us that there are better ways. People still excited, the summer is finally here. Pool Parties Screamin’ Yes Bathing Suits Ass All Out Ballers All Around spending money that’s what I’m talking about The guys going to the Sports Bar playing pool watching the Fights and Games on the Big Screen T.V. Ladies walking in with their booty shorts and shades Fellas shouting “shorty.” People laying on the beaches catching a tan Ladies in bathing suits looking for a man Boardwalk full of tourists on a trip “Welcome” says the hustler on the Coney Island strip Selling anything you need clothes, toys, crack, weed, pills, heroine. Mess around and get the wrong shit that quick your life is gone Prostitutes prancing hard Up and down the boulevard Feigning to turn a trick To avoid an ass whooping from a pimp And get their next hit Help make the money they use to pay bills


and put food in their kids mouth clothes on their kids back Waking up every day saying this is the last time and I’ll never go back. Ladies shaking their ass going up and down the poles Like the song says that doesn’t make you a hoe Some are paying for school cause they know no other way And the world ask for so much just to get a job today. Guys on the corner do their hand to hand With their fresh white tee and new kicks thinking they’re the man They don’t take shorts and want something in return We steal, bend over, give head then feel guilt and shame but never learn Its nighttime addicts in staircases in the crib or out in the streets getting high Police on the prowl arresting anything moving. If your lucky your get your ass locked up Kiss your summertime Goodbye. But only you know if you’re strong enough to stop yourself from walking out that door So respect the cool breeze, the hot sun, the summertime for all these reasons But one thing you must remember it is the most deadly and Addictive Season.


A Healing The Addicted Poet

She looks in the mirror. Do she like what she sees? A woman lost bending down on her knees. “I need a healing!” she cried out loud. A healing of mind, body and soul. Because the negativity in my life has kept me from achieving my goals. Acceptance of who I am is in progress I understand my feelings I have forgiveness. No more misery, I’ve gained happiness My desire to love and sit right in my skin. Has given me pride in being a woman. Once frightened and living with guilt and shame. Using my addiction as a scapegoat, hiding behind the blame Now I embrace the truth in my


womb, be FREE. I set boundaries and I’m proud to be ME. I’m outspoken, inspirational, healthy and proud. “A healing I’ve received!” she cried out loud. My heart is cleansed and I’ve witnessed peace. A revolution has happened and calmed this savage beast. Like the air, earth and fire that lives deep within. I break down my wall once for protection. No more fear, denial or secrets to hide. I’m blessed and it shines from the inside. This celebration is not only a healing for me. But for all recovering addicts that I call family. Namaste I say. To oneself be true. And always know the revolution starts with you. I am a WOMBMAN. A Walking Talking Revolution. With so much wisdom I hold the solution.


I hold my head up with my afro standing high. No little expectations. My limit is the sky. Cause I believe all my dreams can come true. And anything you want You can have it too. I’m no longer afraid to expose my true feelings. She cried out loud “I gladly accept this HEALING!”



Gifts of a Struggle The Addicted Poet

She started out with a goal that she was determined to achieve. But little did she know the tricks the devil had up his sleeves. She rose every day at 4am in the morning No money, no breakfast in her stomach but she kept on going. She thanked God for her lunch each day And let the Devil know he failed to stand in her way. But he wouldn’t give up, he tried another route. He taunted her marriage daily, to whether or not she loved her husband became doubt. They argued with each other everyday. But then they made up. I guess God seen another way. He was stronger than Satan and stopped him in every path. Every little trick he continued to try, GOD just sat back and laughed But the struggle didn’t stop. It continued every day. But there were many gifts that were given upon the way.


Things that people overlook. Like food, clothing, shelter and love. All these things given from the One up above. Her husband and children are still by her side. And every day she has her phone and music to soothe her on her daily ride. Her grades are good and she understands her worth. And soon people will publish her work. Her poetry that is, which is one of her dreams. And with this career life can be as it seems. Happy, Sad, Fun, Mad. Ups and downs. But boy how being drug free can turn your life around. I never thought I would see this day when Gifts of a Struggle would come my way. I will graduate this program, as well as school. But God and remaining drug free is the number one rule. I will get the career of my dreams. And bells, my name will ring. My family will finally be back together as one. And many more Gifts of Struggle are to come. Because without a struggle there is no lesson.


And without a lesson, there is no blessing So respect your struggles from day to day. And know that God always makes a way Have no fear, and fear no troubles And always expect‌ The Gifts Of A Struggle


H a v e Yo u F o r g o t t e n Me? The Addicted Poet Have you forgotten me? I pushed and still got cut for my bundle of joy, my baby boy. August 9th 1998. 8 lb., 12 oz. He, was born. There was no me without you. Now sixteen and a birthday on Sunday, have you forgotten me? I haven’t heard your voice in a month or so. I never thought we would be apart. And you wouldn’t break your neck to see me. But I believe you’ve forgotten me. Thank God for my memories that I often run back to see your face, smiling saying, “Ma.” If I could just see you for five minutes I would wrap my arms around you and tell you I love you and wouldn’t let you go until you told me you couldn’t breathe. Have You Forgotten ME? Don’t you miss seeing me or hearing my voice, my smell, my touch, my food? I’m clean now, don’t that mean something? Aren’t you proud of ME? Or have you Truly Forgotten ME? My son, how many times do I have to apologize? Will you ever love me like your mother again? Trust me. Respect ME. Or has someone taken my place? I see your face every day. When I’m outside sometimes I think I see you walking down the street but it’s never you. HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ME? Maybe on your birthday you’ll come by and we will spend the day together. Maybe even lay next to each other for a while, so I could reminisce on when you used to be in my bed with me watching T.V. Oh I forgot you’ve forgotten me. Your mother, I always thought you were a mama’s boy, my only boy. It hurts. It really hurts. To know that you’ve forgotten me. But one day you’ll remember that you have a mom that misses you and cares about you and will die for you. And when this happens and you come back to me I’ll open my arms and hold you tight and let you know I haven’t forgotten YOU.


Showstopper Sheila The Addicted Poet

Her Presence So Strong You Can Feel Her. Introducing Showstopper Sheila. Her scent mesmerizes her victims before she steps into the room. The sweet smells of her poisonous perfume. It compliments the tone of her skin, In which she feels so confident in. Her strut is held with such great posture and class. And her luxurious hair hangs down to her high and firm ass. Showstopper Sheila is her name and getting what she wants is definitely her game. Her arched eyebrows sit above her slanted beautiful eyes with makeup of glitter and gold, Stare into them and become hypnotized. Showstopper Sheila has dreams andher goal is to make them come true. She uses her beauty or maybe even you. But when she looks in the mirror who does she see? Showstopper Sheila can be you or me. Her outfits flawless. Her Jewelry Impeccable.


She carries herself as a lady and is very respectable. But Showstopper Sheila has many problems. And has no idea on where to start or how to solve them. On the inside she’s very confused. Her main downfall is drug abuse. All dressed up looking clean as a whistle, never trying to resolve her addiction issues. Beautiful by day and ugly at night. Showstopper Sheila is tired of the fight. But who can she turn to with so much pride. She could never come clean about what’s inside. The things she’s done just to get by. The life she’s living is such a lie. How would people look at her? How would she feel? Would the help she seek be for real? Can anyone hear her cry at all? Will anyone be there when she falls? All I can say to Showstopper Sheila is never think you are unique. And no one can help you if you don’t speak. So for all the Showstopper Sheilas in here today. Stop dressing up the outside, and let the real you come out and play. Nuff respect. Looking good Ms. Showstopper Sheila. But I think the person inside is much realer.


NOW. A round of applause to those that just found themselves and decided to put Showstopper Sheila back on the shelf. And now that the person inside has come out. Let them explore what living a good life is about. CONGRATULATIONS To The New You Boo Boo! Now go ahead and make it Do What It Do?


Snowman The Addicted Poet

The pureness of the snow before it’s trampled over by traffic and the souls of feet Reminds her of when they first met on the street. Happiness rained throughout her life and then she disappeared within the slush, the gray and muddy waters left behind After the pain she endured. Is he just a man that has no heart Or is his love shown with a different part No touches from him soothe her anymore But how she misses him when she walks out the door The stillness in her heart made it difficult to breathe. No puff of air only clouds of smoke. From cigarettes and guilt, she choked. Using them to take away the pain but once she was done it still remained. The tears trickle like icicles down her face and dropped to the ground until she stood in a puddle of herself. Still worrying “is he with someone else?” No laughter with time. No joy, no sunshine Lonely, she began to wonder will these experiences ever lead her back Before when her life was on track.


To that first day of the beautiful snow. Back to the man she met, not the one she knows. In her mind thoughts sang repeatedly like her favorite song. Will she ever recover or is her love gone? Should she move on and love herself? Start over with someone else? Will her feelings ever be the same? Is it her that will always be the blame? Should she stay or should she go? Maybe her answer will come again with the snow.


Wa s I A M o t h e r The Addicted Poet

Somebody asked me as an addict do I think I was a good mother to my kids. But before I answered I had to reculate about the things that I did. I made sure my children ate everyday cause when it came to feeding my kids I didn’t play. Even though sometimes I would mess up the meal, sometimes too salty, sometimes burnt. My son ordering Chinese was easily learnt. Cause I was probably drinking or doing a line. And sometimes cooking and feeding them was interrupting my time. He would get the money and pay for his meal. Now tell me “is that a good mother?”-for real. On the first of the month my son always got a check. When that day rolled around I always broke my neck not to buy him things or take him out. But to cash it, go to the coke spot & get


High, that’s what my life was about. I would just sit there from sun up till sun down. Hoping and praying for a vick to come around. Sooner or later I would come home and cry. And now I sit here and ask myself what type of mother was I. I remember sitting on the toilet with the door locked sniffing coke, hiding from my son. He would be knocking on the door to use the bathroom asking “mommy, you done?” I would yell at him to go back in the room. He didn’t know what I was doing or at least I assumed. I would lie on the floor peeking under the door still sniffing coke. Watching him walk away knowing he had to pee. Now that I think back I can’t believe that was me. Well I always made sure that their clothes were clean. But when I did laundry, alcohol I would bring Sometimes I would bring home all the clothes wet. And let’s not talk about the loads of clothes that I would forget. And what about the ones that I would bleach.


Or being in the laundry with my daughter and falling asleep. Walking home with the shopping cart full of clothes. By the time I got to the door where I left them, only God knows. This shit happened as I moved from one address to another. But still I told myself that I was a good mother. Well I never left my kids at home on their own. And that’s a fact that needs to be known. That had to count as being a good parent. Even though I took others for granted. I would leave my son with my mom and go to the store. She should be use to this game cause I’ve pulled it before. I turn off my phone “get the fuck its I’m grown.” Suppose to go and buy my kids something to eat. Fuck it, Mommy will feed them. I’m in the streets. Sitting in the spot no money on me but a chain on my neck. Looking for a ride cause I’m pawning it, what the heck. I’ll get it back before it’s too late. It doesn’t matter that it was given to me on my anniversary. Cause right now this coke is more important to me. Back at the spot I get my drink and take


a hit and think to myself I love this shit. This right here is number one. I’m starting to think it’s more important than my son. I stay in the spot and I keep getting high. I don’t care that it’s another day. I realize I don’t want to be a mother anyway. Somebody ask me as an addict do I think I was a good mother to my kids. But before I answered I had to reculate about the things that I did. The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time. But I can’t remember being joyous on holidays with mines. Cause at Christmas all the money was spent. There were no presents and no money for rent. My husband always made up for my slack But what about when he gave me the money, I spent it, and had to get it back. You know. Gotta make a move, need Some quick cash. Gonna have to steal or maybe sell some ass. I hit Marshalls for the clothes my Kids need. Call up my trick and get down on my knees. Lay down on my back made my money without getting caught.


Took the money I made and guess what I bought Sold the clothes that I stole and as for Christmas, you know how the story goes. I know I’m a mother but an addict first. Someone help me please cause this addiction hurts. Many of us think our kids don’t know what we do. But just think about when you get drunk or high and you say they test you. And remember when you were little kids, all those memories of what your parents did. Whether it was drugs, partying or even if they worked. It’s amazing what we remember and how the brain works. The children are much smarter these days They show us hints in their own little ways. It may not be now but later it will show. Especially if they’re little, give them time to grow. Some may forgive you and love you the same. And some won’t and you’ll forever be the blame. Every chance they get they’ll throw it up in your face. So change your life now instead of being a disgrace. And to the women that say I was a “great mother” more power to you. Keep on doing whatever it is that


you do. It’s obvious that you’re hiding behind the pain. Never taking responsibility, finding others to blame. You’re a great mother in treatment and Your children are taken away or home. But I’m not judgmental so I’ll leave that alone. Just want us to understand being a mother is real. And I wasn’t one no matter how I feel. There’s no way I could not affect my children with my addiction, and that’s a known fact, not fucking fiction. But maybe some of you haven’t hit your bottom. If I was you I would use this time to solve my problems. Cause tomorrow is not a guarantee But to conquer this disease can be easy. This disease has took so many lives. Broken so many families, took education, jobs, made miserable wives. But today I must keep it on the I. And every day I wake and ask myself why. Can’t I sniff coke and enjoy myself, or have a drink like everyone else? NO because it’s not the way I was created. And when I got that answer boy did I hate it.


Someone said I should stop with the questions. Close my mouth, open my ears and start talking suggestions. Cause in recovery addicts learn a lot from one another. And it’s guaranteed I can learn how to be a better mother. First I have to be willing to surrender. Follow the steps and make meetings if I want to beat addiction and be a winner. And from there I will turn it over to God. Cause with his help it can’t be that hard Then I’m sure my children will see a change. And to their face a smile it will bring And I hope they will welcome me with open arms And be so proud to call me their MOM.


24 Hours Sean Banks

The sun did not set. It fell‌it rose when I was dreaming and it set again. I woke up smiling, turned over my back and closed my eyes again and meditated. The sun fell because it was getting rid of all the negativity, which is night and day. It rises to start all over.


Everyday Sean Banks

Happy, Sad, Up, Down, Left, Right, Black or White. Life will be unbalanced, so don’t give up ya challenge.


Experience Sean Banks

The first time I ever smoked I was 16. I had to sneak out the house through the back door and into the car. We drove to the Chinese spot. I think I was afraid to drink but ready to try this new thing everyone did before school, after school, and during school, etc. Anyways we ordered Chinese food, chicken and rice. Then we smoked then ate. OMG, my friend Tina taught me how to smoke weed. They taught me how to hold it, pull it and inhale it, blow it out, w.e. It felt so good. I was wavy, literally feeling wavy. We went on a ride. I felt like I was going in circles, up, down, etc. Tina’s boyfriend was driving on hills so it made the ride extra fun. I had a good experience smoking weed for the first time. I’m surprised I didn’t get paranoid sneaking back in, and wondering if I smelled like weed. That day I had on a wig and I know my wig stanked like weed. The end!


Fox & Dog Sean Banks

A fox came every evening to my door and sat there waiting for food. I came to the door and opened it, to give the fox food. My dog followed me and said “woof.� She started to nibble on the ankle part of my pants. She does it every morning as if she knew what time I fed the fox. One day I opened the door to let the fox see my dog, I wanted my dog to go out and play with the fox. She was scared, and when the fox tried to walk in the dog attacked the fox and they was fighting. I found out my dog was jealous.


Letter 2 Self Sean Banks

Dear Sean, You are the most ugliest person inside and out. You are a drug addict and alcoholic. You have no sneakers and you’re not fresh. You never take a shower and you have no friends. Ya family thinks you are a mistake and they wish you was a boy named Sean-tone. I think you roll with the KKK and dress like a Nazi. Guess what Sean? God still loves you. from the unknown.


No Judgement Sean Banks

Color of the skin don’t matter Sexual orientation don’t matter Understanding don’t matter But loving one another does matter Understanding one another should matter Your heart matters. May I ask, what’s the matter?


R ike rs Sean Banks

I won’t go back there this time… to jail. It was ridiculous. First off the C.O.’s are everywhere you look. The beds feel like concrete. The blankets were itchy. The food was garbage and it was the same thing every week. Fights and arguments happening every second. It sounded like Times Square. People was stealing each other’s things. The phone calls was like 3 minutes. There was no internet. You couldn’t have water after certain hour, like we were toddlers who wet the bed. Noise early in the morning like it was boot camp. People was spitting at each other. The dentist clean your teeth hard. They had random searches. The visits were an hour long, and on the jail buses you feel too closed in, plus being handcuffed to someone was too much. Crazy people sometimes would circle you talking to themselves and it was scary cause you don’t know if they was gonna swing or not.


Self Friendship Sean Banks

It was as though in the stillness of a dark winter alone she had disappeared inside herself. No one to hear her, to answer, to turn the experience into a story, or to tell stories to pass the time, just breath. When she went out to get snow to melt for water or to chart the weather on the mountain, she sang badly, to keep wolves at bay. Inside she got so lonely, she developed friendships with the tea kettle and pot and pans. It was a baptism by ice, and when it was over she was of the arctic, where she would spend the prime years of her life among the Inuit and have the adventures she spent the rest of her life recounting. Her books about the north appeared in English and Danish from the 1920s until after her death in 1958.


Autumn Michelle Crawford

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year Leaves fall. So beautiful. People walk their dogs. People go bike riding. People sit in the park. Those are things I think of when I think of Autumn. Autumn. People play ball. People drive top down cars. People eat fruit. People go to Ice Cream Parlor. That’s what I think of when I think of Autumn. Colorful leaves, beautiful trees. Conversations. Those are things Autumn brings. It makes me want to sing. That’s what I think of when I think of Autumn. School is in. Children playing. Parents taking kids shopping. That’s what I think of when I think of Autumn.


Beautiful Season Michelle Crawford

Autumn is like an old book that I would like to Read that sits on the shelf waiting to get read. Marred spines turn turn means yellow, staple rust red orange. They forget how they have the trees to fall on the floor making everything so messy. Now it’s time to rake them up on the beautiful autumn day. No more pool, it’s time to go back to school. Let’s get up, no more rest time for school where there will be test time for kids time to become bigger pests. I must conform. No more nights out with the kids. Time to tuck them in at 8:00 cause I can’t get to work late. This is where time to come for old winter to come. Why autumn had to get here so fast. I wish this will pass so I can get back to summer and have blast with my friends sitting around with big glasses of lemonade. Oh I can’t wait to for summer. My friend come back, I miss you. No more sitting in a park in the dark. But it’s one good thing about autumn, all the bugs are away. But I can’t wait to go back to a summer day.


Inspirations Michelle Crawford

When we fall we should get back up and walk it off cause we don’t have to stay down no more. We are better. We allowed our addiction to predict what we did, what we wore, what we said, where we went. Now we can think clear cause we clear from all addictions (drugs). I know people say they don’t have an addiction but If you get high everyday all day you have an addiction. But I know everyone feels down but we are strong. We made it, we had the opportunity to get a second chance. Let’s make it count.


Loneliness Michelle Crawford

She watched the wind blow on that day. It was a noisy night. She wanted to sing so badly but she had nothing better to do. She was on her own. She made with what she knew to do. All she had was her tea cups and her chairs in her lonely cabin but on this particular night she didn’t want to be alone with her thoughts. So she left her cabin to the only thing that were alive, the animals. Cause her cabin was deep, deep in the woods. She sat on a rock and thought back to her being a little girl. A smile arose on her face as she remembered her mom bringing her to this same place as a child. She started to cry as she thought how her mother no longer was here to see her take this same trip they took. Then all of a sudden she started to sing, that’s what she knew, that was the only thing that will calm her down. There was no one to hear her but the animals she sang to. She started to cry some more thinking back on life, how there wasn’t anyone to share these moments with but animals. That sucks for her. She wanted more. She walked back to her cabin, went and sat down, got a cup of tea and the took a nice shower, then laid down and cried herself to sleep. The next morning was no different so she thought. There was a knock at the door. She opened it. There was a tall man asking to come in from the cold, said he was looking for cabin number 58. She was cabin number 42. She said, “You can keep driving 20 miles.” He said, “Wow that’s far.” She said, “I’ll bet who’s at your cabin are my mother and father, would you like to join us?” She said, “Yes” and there was the end of her loneliness.


Rain Michelle Crawford

Rain, rain go away I said as the rain dropped on my window pane. I love the rain. I feel like the rain washes all the bad away. All the trees grow and flowers blossom. Rain, rain go away come back another day maybe to wash the dirty streets away, wash all the people’s evil souls away. I enjoy the rain hitting my feet as I walked down the streets. It was a beautiful day although it was a rainy day.


Tr e e s Michelle Crawford

Trees are beautiful. Different colored leaves on them. The way the wind blows. This way and that, here and there. Rain fall faster, wind blow hard. I stand still like a bodyguard. Waiting for my chance to charge. Back and forth and up and down. From the leaves I’ll make a crown.


Wo r t h y Wo m a n Michelle Crawford

“Wow. Two more weeks to my birthday, what do you think I’ll become Shanell? Give me some Ideas.” “OK. Maybe you can be another Catwoman.” “(HA HA) Very funny.” “No serious you will be Firewoman with eyes that turn to fire. Cool, Right? Yeah I’m excited for you I can’t wait till my day in 3 Months.” “Yup. You can be something cool too. Let’s go to the mall (ah).” We drove to the mall picked up some stuff and was heading home. I started to feel a little light headed and heard voices. I got a little scared. Shanell asked me am I OK. I said yes. Then we proceeded to the car. She asked me what did I buy. I said lavender scented candle for tonight, Jake’s coming over. All of sudden (BOOM), I hit the floor. “Tiffany talk to me! Somebody help please!” All I know is I woke up in the hospital. Doctors said I been in a coma for 2 weeks. Doctors said I was going to make a splendid recovery. They said most people can’t talk when they wake up. Jake walks in singing happy Birthday. I said, “Thanks. what’s going on? I can hear your thoughts.” “Don’t worry baby just get better. I been worried about you. It’s just your super powers. I just have to be careful what I say around you (HA HA),” he said. “Is that Right? I feel awful Jake.” “Just get some rest, we will be back tomorrow.”


“OK baby and Jake, don’t come at 2:00, come at 1:00 ok? Thanks,” I told him. Jake then said, “You’re really taking these superpowers to the extreme and I know you’re hungry.” I was and told him, “go get us something to eat (LOL).” “OK what kind of boxers do I have on?” he asked. “You’re funny Jake, the black and gray ones I got you for your Birthday. Anyways, thanks for the flowers, lavender my favorite.” “Yes, cause you are the woman I love. You are worth it baby,” he told me. “Huh, that’s a good name. Worthywoman is my super power name.” Next day I went home, got in Bed in my purple sheets and rested for a couple of days. Then went to my Superpower school. Everyone was asking me how do I like my new powers and what are they. One kid said whack when I told him. “Not like you’re throwing fire.” I told him back, “So what I’m a WorthyWoman. I know everything you think, but anyway, goodbye.” I went to class, when school was out I went straight home did my homework and went to bed.


Why? Michelle Crawford

Why is an understatement. We sometimes ask questions that we can’t answer. But the word why should never be in our vocabulary, cause why is pretty much not owing up to what you have done. We all have made some bad choices but we can get over it. It happened, it’s over and done. Let’s wake up and smell the coffee. We can’t keep blaming others for what we done. We can down others but we have to look at ourselves too because God didn’t make no one perfect, we struggle for a reason. God said I don’t give what you can’t bear. What won’t kill you makes you stronger. So please don’t ask why things happen for a reason.


W h y We W r i t e Michelle Crawford

I write because I like to write when things come to my head, I like to put it on paper. I write because it gives me hope. I like to write cause it soothes me. I like to write cause writing is beautiful, it’s another form of art. I write to hear other people read it. I write to read it and people listen. I write cause it strengthens the mind and body. I write cause I love to write. I write cause it lets out feelings. I like to write because it takes the pain away when I write. I write because writing is another way of expressing yourself without getting upset. I write because people enjoy my feelings, it gives them a little insight about me. I write cause it is something to do when you have nothing to do. I write cause it gives me hope. I write cause pen to paper is more powerful than words. I write cause it’s like music to your ears when you read it.


Peaceful Condolences Shanta England

She lived alone in the wild at peace all by herself. The quiet from the city and the humbleness of all around. She valued the serenity of her life all by herself. She could do whatever she wanted, go wherever but she started to feel so alone. It was as if she was a Cinderella in her all-white castle. The trees and animals her kingdom that she ruled with silent grace. She was accustomed to being alone and free & knew just about all her surroundings like the back of her hand. She wandered near and far anywhere her imagination would take her. This was her reality. Each day she kept a journal on all the things she did. Where she went, what she saw, what she ate. There was a day that she decided to ice-skate on a lake she’d just discovered in between twin peak & mountains with snow covered leafs. While skating she began to mesmerize on how beautiful this place was that she had found and secretly wished that she could stay there forever. Unbeknownst to her the ice was wearing thin and as she twirled without care the ice began to crack. Her heart was swelled with so much joy and purity, when the ice broke and she was sucked under. She didn’t fight or fear, she was at her greatest peace to be baptized by the ice and welcomed into eternity.


Who Am I? Shanta England

Red hair Short ruffled skirt with polka dots Striped long sleeve shirt Tall socks that don’t match Brown Buster Brown shoes that are a little too big I have freckles on my face and my face is always dirty I’m also always in trouble


A P e r f e c t F a i r y Ta l e ! Shanta England

In a dark, dark woods there was a dark, dark house and in that dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room and in that dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard and that dark, dark cupboard there was a dark, dark box and in that dark, dark box there was the eyes and tongues of all the dark, dark people from the forest who treaded into the city of light in search for innocent blood to steal. The city of light was just beyond the dark, dark woods where the sun rised and set on the horizon. A few years back, some 5 or 6, the city of light began having a problem when the young children and newborns started disappearing in the middle of the night, some from their cribs and bassinettes in rooms just outside their parents. After the 5th child disappeared the queen got together with the queen’s guards and ordered for a special battalion to keep watch over the city at night. On the 3rd night it was reported that shadows were seen coming from the woods so swift that the shapes were almost surely missed. The queen had come to the conclusion that someone had to enter the forest, which would have been fine except for the curse that was on the forest, that anyone who entered could not return to the city of light. They would have to stay in the dark, dark forest for the rest of their days. The queen couldn’t think how anyone would volunteer for such a quest but the dark figures had to be stopped. She put out a notice that if anyone volunteered their family would live in the royal court for the rest of their days in honor of their loved one’s sacrifice. 2 days went by and 4 more children went missing. Then on the 3rd day, Maleroy, a noble queen’s guard of 34 years old answered the plea of the queen. Maleroy had no wife and had adopted 4 orphans: 2 boys and


2 girls between the ages of 2 and 12. Their mother was a seamstress and died of natural causes. The children had no one to look after them if not for Maleroy. The queen thanked him graciously and was true to her word,. The orphans were then adopted by the queen as her own. Maleroy kissed the children goodbye and set out to the dark, dark woods. He killed the 3 mystic beings and cut out their tongues and eyes and put them in the dark, dark box in the dark, dark house in the center of the dark, dark woods. He dreamed about the children constantly because he missed them so much, his love for them was so great as for his love for the queen and the village that the spell that trapped him in the dark, dark wood was broken after 5 years of living alone in the dark, dark forest. He was welcomed back and the queen asked his hand in marriage and there was never another problem from the dark, dark woods or the dark, dark house and the village thrived for centuries to come. THE END


My Disappearing Shanta England

I’ve just disappeared, I don’t know where. My life’s just begging in this space over here. I need to plant roots and conjure up truths. The answer has to be here somewhere. I’m all alone as far as I can tell, I struggle and triumph. It’s just as well. I set up a house and call it my own and set about my day just happy to roam. It’s awfully peaceful here not like my old place where I seemed to get lost just for quiet space. I hear voices in the distance but the people I can’t find. They’re telling me to come back to that other place and time. I love it here though, no more fighting or sorrows. My heart is light and my body is that of a swallow. O’yeah that’s a bird read it in a book back there. All of sudden things are coming to focus like in a cameras ring. The light goes from foggy to a piercing white thing. Then next I feel I’m being pulled from my very being. Being pulled from my disappearing. It seems like only a day and there’s so much I’ve wanted to do. The peace of where I’ve been was all just so new, at a jolt and a scream I’m awake again. The voices I’d heard was from my best-est friend, I’d somehow slipped into a coma. How? I don’t know, I’ve been gone for 3 years say it ain’t so. To me it was brief but to them it was forever. To return to my peace I should say never, but honestly I miss that place it was so free and then I think how great is a world where there’s only just me. It’s not great at all I’ll be too lonely, at first it was fun but then I think of this one there’s no family and friends, children and babies, cans and food and at times a little crazy. I’ve just had a thought to never disappear again because maybe next time I’ll be gone with the wind.


My Inner Pain Shanta England

I feel like my bodies betraying me It hurts when I don’t want it to I’m tired of feeling this way I want to give my body away I’m hurting deep inside this pain is threatening to destroy my pride. I don’t know how to make it stop Whenever I move my bones constantly pop I’m feeling mad, and sometimes quite sad Because I want to give up! It seems like my body is bad luck I’m trying to cope to put my very being under a strict microscope why did it have to be? why did God make me so sickly? I often wonder, is he mad at me and how bad was what I did that he has to constantly punish me I feel like withdrawing within myself, but I fear slipping into an abyss, I sometimes feel like killing the body and offering it unto a mist But then I realize I’d lose me and the person I am would surely be missed I’m crying through my writing at a crossroad no one can see. What road I will take depends on the day of the week but I’ve


come to the conclusion I’ll have to suffer longer but how much more I can take will always have to wait until tomorrow ends and then maybe I’ll turn the bend and step back into reality. This seemingly perfect body is out to eventually kill me.


The Day The Wind Blew Shanta England

The Wind blows hot breath It feels good upon my skin The heat is awakening I enjoy the way the wind blows, Especially when it’s on a hot day. Sun burning bright in the sky Golden rays on window panes They burn so bad I scream Anybody got any ice cream?


The Enchanted Lady Shanta England

Amaya is a beautiful young woman at 17, with almond shaped eyes, long flowing burgundy locks with perfect almond colored skin that reverberates against her ocean grey eyes. Her voice is small but stern, soft yet laced with authority. She is petite with a perfect coke bottle shape, no waist but a beautiful size 14 in pants and with perfect C-cup breast. She could bring any man to his knees. She is instantly the star of any room she’s in with a bubbly personality and yet mysterious eyes. She is the perfect epitome of a woman. Its 6 hours until the celebration of womanhood at which time she would be endowed with a power that fits her natural nature. Her mother and the other village women, on who powers have already been bestowed, are dressing her and explaining the importance of the life changing event. Amaya is scared to death but dares not embarrass her family by voicing these fears, another part of her more humbling attributes. I seem to have gotten ahead of myself, see Amaya already has a blessing and curse she seems to have no problem going out of her way to help people whether welcomed or not, so as you can imagine she has caused some problem among villagers along the way. She has done things with the intention of helping not realizing it caused more harm than good, such as telling Meriam, the wife of Markeese, that she saw him coming out of the house of Tanish, his ex-girlfriend while Meriam was at work. She honestly thought that she was helping their relationship because the village was also buzzing about him seeing other women. She thought that he was doing no harm and was just hanging out with an old friend. Her good-naturedness was also helpful to all the elderly because she constantly checked on them to make sure they


were okay and had saved many of them from critical situations through her open-ended outgoing personality. By the time the elders and her mother leaves it is 10 minutes until her ceremony. When the oracle appears to bestow her gift she is horrified to see a blank-less face with the most beautiful and mysterious eyes one could ever imagine. One was sky blue, the other a cold grey. The oracle summons her closer and more than a beat passed before Amaya moved. The oracle bestowed the gift, the gift of sight— past, present and future. The only problem with this cursed girl was that she was not allowed to interfere on behalf of anything she saw and the penalty would be a withdrawal from her life pool if she interfered. This was an egregious task for Amaya because she was used to always meddling in other people’s affairs. She cried and wanted to take her own life but she couldn’t for the penalty of that was to be damned to walk the earth for all eternity. When she raised her head the oracle’s face was entirely clear and the face mirrored back was that of her own and then another shocking reality hit, cause see Amaya was adopted. No one knew where she had come from. She was just left on the stoop of the woman she now called her mom but in fact the oracle was truly her mom and she made the mistake of interfering too often and died and was punished to walking between world for all eternity, hence giving her daughter the same gift she had and giving a stern warning to be careful but adhere the rules.


The Perfect Halloween Shanta England

It’s lavender and ivory, a beautiful princess gown. It’s handmade, tight in the waist with a bustier underneath. It flails out in layers from the waist down. It has lace on down the middle to just under the navel and lavender silk on the sleeves with pearl buttons on the wrists and neckline. The dress reaches the floor with room to spare underneath Michael Kors silver glittered pumps. The dress is especially special cause it was my wedding dress now passed down to my daughter and she figured she’d first wear it for a princess dress, and she looked so beautiful that I couldn’t bring myself to tell her to take it off. She paired it with my diamond studs and eternity necklace.


Wo r m s Miri Klau

My thoughts are constantly multiplying like bacteria. They fight to escape the confines of my skull and push through the grey matter of my brain like tiny worms. Sometimes they flee unspoken and unwritten, lost forever in the void that we call reality. When I manage to pin them down to a piece of paper they get mad sometimes, and scramble themselves so they no longer resemble their original meanings. But at least they’re semi-legible, and at least they kinda mean something. Years later they’re often fermented and make more sense and after a small spark of a memory. I like to give them that chance.


Secret Door Ines Sambucini

I open the door, and I see the most beautiful sight my eyes have ever seen. It’s a different world, where disease and addiction do not exist! There is no death, only life. Everyone’s living, This breathtaking vision, It’s a miracle that happened, Real proof that has been captured. Cause that secret door, That leads to this beauty, Must be heaven on earth, And it’s finally proven… There is such thing, Called a perfect world, Where I can be free, From every wrong. I can finally breathe, Without a drug in sight, My mom and I run — Through this beautiful life! Then there’s tears, That come to my eyes, Because the secret door I thought I found,


Does not exist. This perfectness‌ But at least I can go back, and imagine it!


Gratitude Erica Stevenson

I’m grateful for my Brother Who’s willing to mend our broken relationship. My niece with her laugh, Her innocence, Her beautiful smile My sister-in-law Who treated me like family Right from the very start Who never judged And always welcomed me with open arms. I’m grateful for my friends Who stuck by me through thick and thin Who never gave up on me Even when I pushed them away Who truly know me And love me for all that I am I’m grateful for my sponsor Who started my recovery journey Encouraged me along the way Who pushed me and will continue to push me To think about my decisions And my Higher Power’s plan for me I’m grateful for this program My peers and their support The counselorsWith our ups & downs and all I’m grateful for my therapist,


My doctors, And my OA groups and meetings. I’m grateful for all that I have now And for all that I foresee having in the future The life I imagine living sober Free from addiction Healthy Happy Genuinely ME!


D o n ’ t Wa n t t o b e a n Addict Quanda Woody

At first I was a user, Over time, I became an abuser, I started with a joint, that weed was on point. Then, I took a hit of coke, Now this shit is no joke. I was introduced to crack, Which made my life wack. And alcohol, was my downfall. Now heroin, had a powerful call. Destroying the mind, body and soul. This is what I chose. My life with drugs is closed Now I am sober I���ve become bolder I see my light shining bright No longer do I fight I’m being good to me clean and sober I be I have become free Laughter and smiles is all I see.


I t ’s M y D a y Quanda Woody

June 4th 1965 I was born Alive No crying or screaming Just a baby girl dreaming On my bottom I was slap this was done to open my trap But no sound did I make Just an evil eye to the doctor I made. Not so much evil, a look of clarity Remembering this moment of prosperity Understanding I am loved My father held me in his arms like a Precious dove, Mommies eyes shining with joy, Just like a kid with a new toy, He told me I am God’s gift to this world, Me, a beautiful baby girl Oh. Yes, on a Friday June 4th is my day


My Blessing Quanda Woody

Today, what I learn is that happiness comes when you least expect it. My morning was just wonderful, thank you God for giving me breath in my body and for opening my eyes. As I awaken from a not so good sleep but I will not complain. I worked the front point. Thank you again for a peaceful morning at work. Lunch was lunch but at least you provided me with food, another blessing you bestow on me. This afternoon had me a little worried, when I had to report to probation, 3pm – 5pm. I was praying, I would not be late for my graduation. So I must thank you god again, and again. Your giving of gifts has humble me in my heart, mind, and soul.


My Cold Quanda Woody

I reside here alone, the sound of snow falling has it’s own tone. My way of life may sound bold, Living up here in the Freezing cold. Let me help you understand, My present situation was brought on by a man. I loved him, more than ME Excepting all of my hurt and Shame that came to be Was a price I paid, In order to get laid. I need him to hold me through the night. this is what forced me to lose sight of what was right I allowed him to be my boss, Loving him at any cost. My self-esteem has all died, But not for me I cried for the lost of what should have been, this is my real sin. So this where I reside, Oh excuse me, I mean hide. The song I sang Is full of my pain That is why the wolves stopped listening To me in, my frozen prison.


Rhythm of Love Quanda Woody

Love’s heart beat is strong A rhythm steady and long As I listen to his song I realize this is what I miss when He’s gone Oh the smell of his skin Fills my thoughts with sin Entwine Arms and Legs More pleasure I beg Cuddling like spoons While I listen to his heart tunes.


This Is Me Quanda Woody

I am proud as can be, Sleek and long, that’s me. Black as midnight, Never Lose A Fight. My moods are all over the place, But I do have a cut face. I love to play, But rather sleep all day Some people call me lazy But that’s just crazy I catch mice, and I have killed a rat I am a big beautiful happy cat


Unseen Blessing Quanda Woody

Last night the sun fell from the sky Not with pretty colors for the feast of the eyes Just blackness For all not to see but the darkness did not bother me As a Jew I am one of the few That understands that this is a lesson In being numb So excepted as a blessing As long as we prayed God gives us the sun and another day


Why I Write Quanda Woody

Writing workshop the place I’m on top Or sometimes flop I can write out my dream with my instructor Colleen the pieces we write are a scream Some of it is mean But this is our creative flow we write them just so this is my space to release my taste by writing poems, stories or a letter My writing just keeps getting better I need this cocoon My writing is like a baby in a womb Being cared for and loved Like a peaceful dove.


Beauty Within Quanda Woody

Beauty within But how does it begin. Loving God. No Sin. The blessing comes from up high above. A sweet lullaby filled with love. Please baby don’t cry. God is my higher power. He helps me blossom into a beautiful flower. Smiling with joy, happiness, hope and strength. Holding your beauty within is your sin.


Haiku: By The Serendipity II Group

It is stormy out Windy wet and cold no doubt This is why I pout Of course there is not a drought I grab my coat and head out I jump in puddles of course No umbrella! That’s fun now I can have fun with no one The stormy winds give me thoughts.



Acknowledgements As a small, grassroots organization, NY Writers Coalition relies on the generous support of those dedicated to getting the voices of those who have been silenced heard. Many thanks go to our foundation, government, and corporate supporters, without whom this writing community and publication would not exist: Allianz GI,, the Kalliopeia Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Two West Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and New York City Council Member Corey Johnson. NYWC programming is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. We rely heavily on the support of individual NYWC members and attendees of our annual Write-A-Thon. In addition, members of our Board of Directors have kept this vital, rewarding work going year after year: Timothy Ballenger, Jonas Blank, Tamiko Beyer, Louise Crawford, Jenni Dickson, Marian Fontana, Lisa Smith, and NYWC Founder and Executive Director Aaron Zimmerman. The Serendipity Writers would also like to thank the Serendipity community, especially to the staff members’ whose honesty and support pushes them forward every day: To Ms. Alexander, who has opened the arms of this program to their recovery; to Ms. Armstrong for guiding them through the right path; to Ms. Hammonds for being a reliable and understanding counselor; to Ms. Santiago, for the enlightening assignments and trips; to Ms. Cruz for creating a structure that allows them to grow; to Ms. Johnson, for keeping an alert, compassionate eye over them at night; to Ms. Greaves for opening their creativity with arts and crafts; to Ms. Cook for introducing them to the world of financial management; to Ms. Camacho for keeping their stomachs happy and full; to Ms. Blakery for making sure they have all they need to keep a tidy and clean 83 house; to Ms. Foster for the sage advice; to Ms. Charlton for bringing

lessons that open their minds. Thank you all. Your generosity and wisdom will not be forgotten. We would also like to thank Colleen Breslin, NYWC’s volunteer workshop leader, who was instrumental in making this book happen, as well as NYWC volunteer workshop leaders, Kimberly Bliss, Rose Gorman, and Leah Falk for all of their help in making this book possible. Plus a special thanks to the dedicated workshop members and contributors at the Serendipity Program.




NY Writers Coalition Inc. (NYWC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates opportunities for formerly voiceless members of society to be heard through the art of writing. One of the largest community-based writing organizations in the country, we provide free, unique, and powerful creative writing workshops throughout New York City for people from groups that have been historically deprived of voice in our society, including at-risk, disconnected, and LGBT youth, homeless and formerly homeless people, those who are incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, war veterans, people living with disabilities, cancer, and other major illnesses, immigrants, seniors, and many others. For more information about NYWC programs and NY Writers Coalition Press publications visit





















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