Mike Newman


Michael is co-founder of Breaking Free. He is currently incarcerated at Petersburg 

Federal Corrections Complex for marijuana trafficking. There, he is a facilitator of several therapy groups, including Victim's Impact and Young Men's Empowerment. He has earned a certification in Substance Abuse Counseling while incarcerated, and hopes to work in recovery and criminal justice reform advocacy upon his release in 2020. 


The Illest Wind

My Blog

August 26, 2018


I am Not Your Prisoner

America, I am not your prisoner~

I am not the deliverer

of your guilty conscience

for the deliberant imprisonment

of my immigrant parents

I am not an alien,

I am not your prisoner.

I am not your prisoner~

I am not enslaved

but I wasn't raised with 

the same options;

while some kids were watching

Full House, the state was putting

me up for adoption and

my Mom couldn't stop them

and my Father was locked up

and my brother was on the

block every night dodgin' them choppers

I am not your prisoner.

I am not your prisoner~

I couldn't stand the shame 

when he touched me,

what kind of man does 

these things to a girl,

I could never understand

The only thing that eased the pain

was the blissfully warm rush 

of dope in my veins

I guess I've always been to blame

I am not your prisoner.

I am not your prisoner~

After surgery they prescribed me pills

took me off after six months

I couldn't survive the chills

I became a desperate drudge

to pharmaceutical thugs who 

left me scouring the streets 

when they pulled the plug

so, what now America?

I am not your prisoner.

I am not your prisoner~

My ancestors toiled the fields

for this land to be rich with spoils

which then spoiled and revealed

all the secret ploys and plots 

which were historically concealed

and now the fields we plow are all void

I am not your prisoner.

I am not your prisoner~

I'm just a white kid who grew up too fast

on the edge of a city with a corrupted past

Ain't get along with pops so I said "Fuck you Dad!"

I sold drugs and ran the streets and now I'm stuck with that



I am not your prisoner.


Missives from the Real America: A Diatribe on Guilt


All of my life I've carried your guilt,

like a ton of bricks in a foundation

that was barely built to stand,

so I buried stilts in sand with blistered hands

and discontentment; I watched my resentment of you

take the shape of a prison.

See, when I was young I wanted to know so much,

then I realized: you can only know so much

before you understand nothing,

and to that is what I owe so much.

Because I was able to see,

why history scorched the earth with the rapacious greed

of those who would drink the blood of which their savior bleeds.

I was able to see,

why men would cheer for war and death oversees,

but vilify a man when he takes a knee

to protest why people don't have a safe place to be

in the richest country in the world.

And all the money in the world can't save

all the country's little girls 

enslaved by poverty, whose fathers have probably

become a piece of the government's property.

Now who's with me?

Better yet-

Who's stopping me?

People think I'm out my mind, I'm not, I'm just ashamed

that we could be so ignorant of history and so resistant to change,

this shit is insane!

We're on the precipice of war and the people with the weapons

have no perception of what the weapons are for,

and would step into a blind Armageddon just to settle the score,

makes me question, what the hell could these elections resolve?

Where's our representation?

Me and 20 million felons living in a separate nation!

And they're rejecting our request for an explanation,

without education how the hell could I assimilate?

Yeah it's hot as hell when I incinerate, 

but look at all the energy I generate!

I burn myself, my guilt, my shame consumed by flames,

breathe my ashes, forget my name, but believe my passion

I'm seeking answers for the people 'cause we bleed from gashes,

we still bleed from lashes, yeah we're breathing gasses,

and as each season passes our senses dull to the point

we can barely perceive a single passage!!

I stay awake 'cause my pen is a syringe 

filled with amphetamines and a mystic wind,

which sends me canvassing over twists and bends

and guilt guides the needle, it just depends,

where guilt blinds the people is where

I push my pen.



Aug 11, 2018


It's now been ten years

since I last saw you

in the visitation room with our baby boy

And it has been six years since

my mother answered the phone 

hysterically telling me you were gone,

your life cut short by the

same affliction which

brought our friendship into existence,

a painful irony.

But it was just a parody of love,

bobbing up and down

in a sea of death which

we were barely above

but oblivious and carelessly drugged--

shamelessly and dangerously drugged,

but still, somehow, tangled in love

But the screams of my disease 

would call me to the streets every eve

and I would leave only to be anxiously alone

in my ride under dim streetlights

at 3 am in the most dangerous zones

hatching nightmarish schemes, 

and right then it seems that 

my awareness of things 

would be so careless 

but in all fairness

I could perfectly explain

all the things which I cherished

The way I could cry childlike tears

without becoming embarrassed

because I felt the pain of a child in a grown man's veins,

and the pain of addiction

is a grown man's chains--

I couldn't break'em

but you were patient

and you waited--

months turned to years, time evaporated

and filled the atmosphere with fear

and you couldn't take it

so you wrapped us both in blankets

the comfort of lies while 

covering your eyes to the truth

that the only thing we should be coveting--

is life--so why is yours so unimportant?

and mine so...unrewarding.

ten years isn't so long when you

ride life's bullet train,

but then you step out on to 

the platform with your souls worn

thin from standing still,

ten years collecting rain,

reflecting pain, and

accepting blame

trying to convince my self that I could

but still,

yet to change


Fences in the Distance


July 10, 2018

Each day as the dusk settles 

on the barbwire and metal fences in the distance,

my thoughts are not far from repentant--

not as far as they are from resentment.

And as my mind's wheel revolves,

my resolve is the linchpin that keeps this whole thing spinning.

Because this reality is just a run-on sentence,

where the subject now hardly recalls the beginning-

and now its all blending together.

And it all depends on the weather-

whether or not I can see past the concrete and metal

to a future not so clouded.

A future not so shrouded with the doubts of

these despotic demons who strum these

strangely melodic themes that make me feel like I'm dreaming-

But inside I'm screaming!

I'm suspended...

like a pendulum inside of an empty chamber

where the curriculum is a compendium of my empty nature.

Where grey floors and grey walls

are imposed by these grey laws and 

used to expose all of my grey flaws...

I wish someone would pour some color into this picture

before my spirit wilts in the dullness of this mixture

and I become just...a sculpture...a fixture.


Gate Fever


July 7, 2018

The blank stare on my face said it all

as I sat on a steel bench staring at a tattered wall

conquered by delusions that I would never fall

delusions shattered by the slamming of a metal door

Behind my eyes flickered the images of all the days remembered

and the images were of all the ways the days were splintered

but the images were just the way the hazy days were rendered,

in my brain the ways remembered

But brain waves were grazed by blades of blenders 

the days the waves sprayed with all their splendor

only that's a day I can't remember

Now I'm trapped again by this transitory half-life

I never lasts like the fast life

chasing after lies through a dense jungle of city blocks and glass pipes,

and when the glass breaks I can act like,

it's just a game, I'm just playing, and I'm not down to my last life

I can laugh like I'm just playing,

I just need to get my act right

Back in the cell the emotion is real, it's raw

It is freshly torn flesh...

I take a very long breath because there's barely none left

I'm thinking...

suffocating in this box would be a very long death

and when I'm finally gone, am I really gone?


And still these euphoric memes intervene

in between rational thoughts and these outlandish dreams..

these outlandish schemes...

which all depends on how bad you fiend....

I'm thinking please...

Somebody save me from this madness 

maybe my sanity would be safer inside a casket

maybe my brain would be safer encased within a basket

and if that's the case...

Maybe I should just off myself and graduate to my master's place 

and leave half the space in my home empty

where my memory will be more of a bad aftertaste

Luckily those days passed away

but yet I still masquerade

maybe one day my mask will fade

and I'll step to the front of this mass parade

where I'm invisible and no one can see me

Yes it's true, I look just like the rest of you 

And yes it's true son, I couldn't save myself

but I still want to rescue you, and I still want the best for you

everything else I would kill if need be and leave nothing left but you

and the best of me would be just a speck of you

Oh, wouldn't that be a spectacle...

If I could valorize these coward eyes which I now despise...

Make them be something in you that could see through a thousand lies

read through all of the how's and why's

like why I'm stuck inside that cell again...how surprised

Don't worry, they say. You'll figure it out this time

Maybe that's why I go so hard that people think I'm out my mind

I'm thinking...Well, 

isn't it about the time?




March 2, 2018

Visions of another world were keeping me awake last night.

A world of second chances, but not just for those who worked

for their advancement up the ladders where rungs come undone 

and leave dreams shattered, keep those ladders. 

This was no daydream, no utopian sunrays blazing, no unicorns grazing in 

golden meadows with pastel petals, where no shadows are ever cast 

and no one ever comes in last. 

This was more a vision of precision, a world where humans pay attention, 

a world where humans weigh decisions, they throw away divisions, 

they don't go the way of pigeons or parrots who say they're Christians 

in redemption, well redemption fuels the system. 

Yes my vision was a vision of a world without prisons. 

I saw my vision through a prism of empiricism and rational humanism 

but I figured, who would listen to my existential intuitions, 

my intuitions, my ruminations which could ruin nations. 

Maybe I'm always reminiscing but look at how far this movement's made it. 

I went to sleep for a week, woke up in Attica and we were picking up the pieces. 

Where they could not police us, but they would not release us. 

We were side by side, no divide, fighting the forces from which 

George Jackson died. He paid the price for revolution, the ultimate 

retribution for his name not to be slain in vain. Such a shame 

that our differences only dissolve in the face of disaster, 

when we lose the privilege of satisfaction, the privilege of distraction, 

our oak tables with our neatly folded napkins where we sit and consume 

all of our trappings. ' 

When it all falls who will say we should have seen it coming all along?

Will these Visions of another world be heard in a song? 

Will these revelations make brethren nations, or will a false belief 

in separation reinforce the segregation, the human tribalism? 

You know if they could, they would put just one tribe inside of prisons. 

It's amazing I survived these prisons, my mom thought I would die in prison,. 

my son thought, "why is my dad in prison," and then my son asked my mom, 

"Is it really that bad in prison?" . 

Then I realized society views prison through a ten year old's eyes. 

Is it really that bad? When half the community's locked up and the kids 

don't have dads, yeah! 

And I used to think so different. I used to blame everything on disposition. 

'Why are you in this position? 

I ignored the war of attrition, 

a war on socio-economic ascension, 

hell, there's even a war on nutrition. 

Yes my vision was a world without wars... 

wars that open up the doors to these prisons. 

When I awoke from this vision I felt like a new person. 

I realized this is no dream, this is my purpose! 

No more cell doors locking, no more birthdays forgotten,

No more families fractured, disadvantaged people captured, 

No more visitation waiting in the shakedown room naked, 

No more phone calls recorded, no more homeboys rewarded with reduced sentences, 

No more government witnesses, 

No more public defenders lying, 

No more victims, and no more victims‘ families crying, 

No more!!! 

When I awoke from this vision I was no longer lying, 

I was standing up for the people saying: "This is who I am!


The Illest Wind by Michael Newman


February 18, 2018

The ill breath of my city is like cold wind on my face as I pace these streets.  As I nod to inaudible but ancient beats, I hear screams of anguish from vanquished people slain in these streets 

Memories of things I've seen but can't repeat We still face this wind, some even embrace this wind and chase this wind 

just to taste it, even though it's laced with sin 

They walk the cobblestone streets with their heads held high under the stone cold stare of Robert Lee' s eyes, like Confederate spies 

They say "look at us, we 've come so far", "we' re so post-racial, we're so postmodern", 

those scars aren't ours, we stand for freedom with our hands over our hearts waving Stars and Bars" 

And I ain't buying it, sometimes I wanna say: "FUCK THAT FLAG" I ain't flyin it. When all I hear is sirens in the distance, sometimes I feel like the sirens are: defining our existence, and every time I hear a siren somebody's dying from their ignorance it's like we' re blind and need assistance 

But not me, I stay woke and I’m wired for resistance

You see this wind is on a mission and it was vividly written on the epitaph that

bore the ghost of my city's past 

Shockoe Bottom was a slave burial ground, now it’s the Richmond City Jail where: the misery lasts 

This is where we were born in sin 

and then we were born again...and again...and again...and again 

Bathed in the blood of the battlefields where the wind began 

where the founders fed some and left others with empty hands...shackled feet and shackled minds, now we can‘t press delete and unravel what's been left behind

That anger, stress, and pain repressed, four hundred years that we can’t forget 

that ain’t in text and can't be described by the English language yet 

That' s the realness...

My City's history makes me physically feel this, when the wind hits my grill 

I inhale the illness

This is now the illness of the children, same illness as the children’s

burial ground under the buildings crumbling foundations got me carrying around 

all of these feelings

Same illness that plowed into the crowd of protesters, now Heather Heyer is in 

a higher place girl rest in peace 

These fascist must be trippin’, you can't erase a race 

Same illness as Sandra Bland's arrester... ‘ 

She died in the solitary cell where they left her 

This illness is the residual, the residue of a past that we never knew, 

that we say we want to get past but we never do, so the breeze is perpetual

It spreads the seeds of disease which my city breeds, 

That's why we're in front of city hall screaming, "I CAN‘T BREATHE!“

why we're walking the streets with no sleep screaming, "NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!" 

As the world spins backwards, westward winds blow east, and come full circle on a Colonial beach 

Where the gifts were delivered from the ships where the gift givers slivered

and their human dignity withered 

They said this was their divine right, 

well I say, define right, because the right of humans to pursue freedom is what defines life ‘ 

Now those ships wind swept existence have brought the light-skinned 

Mediterranean descendant to the penitentiary waiting for deliverance 

from fake kings like Ferdinand, or fake kings like Trump, 

fake kings that treat their subjects like playthings in daydreams 

and send the D's chasing casings to put handcuffs on late teens. 

Am I penetrating the fortress? Eliminating the distortions, 

erasing places in your brain that have been chasing a portrait 

of white fear, well I'm right here, but I‘m light years beyond 

they're still sight seeing, but the lights are barely on. 

On Monument Avenue the passersby are passing through looking at the 

eyes of the statue well, I don't see justice. 

They ask us why we want to see the monuments crumble, 

I say "Robert Lee, look what's going on right up under you!" 

Ten blocks away, look what's going on in the jungle, 

or look what's going on right in front of you. 

It makes me want to burn my city down again, 

I'll burn that slave trading post to the ground again. 

Burn it all, til the establishment crashes and the past is only ashes... 

found in the wind.