51+lB7Wg+VL._SY300_Poems written by people who usually have no voice in our society and spend a large part of their lives in behind bars are presented in the new book, How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart: Secret Lives and Uncensored Confessions of Maximum Security Prison Inmates, which publishes April 21 during National Poetry Month. The book is the result of a successful prison education program taught by bestselling fiction and nonfiction author John Wareham who prompts inmates to write about their emotional and intellectual journeys from the moment of their crime to the moment of their release.

Here are two of the poems from Wareham’s program.



By Sheldon Arnold

Who am I?

What have I done?

I can’t believe I did that.

What have I become?

Why are those guys oozing red?

That one looks just like he’s dead.

They’re staring at me, everyone.

Wherever did I get this gun?


By Andre Rivera

Racism in the ghetto

was just another day.

When it came to black and white

there were no shades of gray.

I wised up to that jungle

and tried to get away.

Hey, not so fast, the devil said,

and I was shred and lay

bleeding in a gutter

with a bullet in my tray.

First I saw black

then I saw white

but never shades of gray.

JOHN WAREHAM created the Eagles Foundation in 1996. An unpaid volunteer, Wareham regularly presents the Taking Wings program in New York prisons. Students’ low recidivism rate is unrivaled. John’s pro bono work is funded by his human resource practice which selects and develops corporate leaders. Ranked by the Financial Times as “the hands down winner” among business communicators, Wareham is the author of Secretsof a Corporate Headhunter, The Anatomy of a Great Executive, and the crossover life-changer, How to Break Out of Prison. A member of writers group PEN, his fiction includes the critically acclaimed Chauncey on Top, and the national bestseller The President’s Therapist and Sonnets for Sinners. Profiled in Leaders magazine, Wareham has appeared as a guest on the BBC, CNN, Fox News, Live at Five, and Court TV.