Advent resources

Corey and Mack: A poem

"I met two of my greatest teachers/ in prison."

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash

I met two of my greatest teachers
in prison. Young men
still in their twenties, convicted
of murder and sentenced to life
without parole, without parole.

When I first met them, Corey asked
How do you pray? If there is a God,
I’m sure he’s angry with me.
I tell him to talk to God
as though he is his friend.
He tried, but told me
nothing came out.
Corey cried, realizing
he had never ever prayed to God.

Mack told me he was going to kill himself.
He felt he could not be free, so
Why should I live? he asked.
You can be free, I said. No one
can take your freedom. But
you can give it away. There is
so much inside you, you have not touched.
He’s still searching, but curious enough
to keep breathing.

Friends question my actions
Why teach them anything? my girlfriend asks,
They will never be free. Why don’t you help some children?
I think about this. Then, respond
Why don’t you help some children?

To teach a man who killed that he is forgiven is a miracle.
To teach a man who killed to love is a miracle.
To believe in miracles is the third miracle,
the one they teach me.

Editor’s note:

  • Mack has been incarcerated since 1993 and is serving a life sentence. He’s 56 years old.
  • Corey has been imprisoned since 1992. He is 52 and is eligible for parole in 2026.