Lost Voices at Vista Maria

We don’t know their stories, but each girl has one. They are tall and short, thin and not-so-thin, brash and reserved. Some of them show a sadness in their eyes deeper than you want to imagine, and others wear a mask that most of the world will never penetrate.

And they are children.

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Never a Bad Seed

This is a column I wrote a few years ago about the documentary I made, Young Poet Incarcerated, which led directly to the founding of Lost Voices…

It was a pretty good line in a really good poem, entitled “Look At Me,” by a seventeen year old African-American poet named Donald. This young man was theoretically every bit as dangerous as he was gifted; he was incarcerated in the WJ Maxey Boys Training School as a violent offender.

Who’d have thought good crops
Could come from a bad seed?

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Nobody’s Angels, Nobody’s Fools

You can hear it in their voices, sometimes off-key, sometimes wobbling with a tremolo of fear, sometimes styled after some singer they have long admired. You can hear it through the giggling bravado of children struggling to show a veil of courage on stage in front of their peers. You can hear it in the words that they would never dare say in any other place or time, words that express feelings lurking in the deepest recesses of their not-quite-adult souls.

It’s the sound of young hearts crying for help.

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Love is Not Hard to Find

She wore a baggy purple shirt over baggy purple sweat pants. Her hair was chopped short and her body was padded with a layer of soft flesh that bore tribute to the starchy diet of incarceration. She had her arms folded across her lap, her gaze fixed on the floor in front of her, and she was almost imperceptibly rocking to a rhythm that only she could hear.

She was maybe sixteen years old.

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