Broken Mirror

The reflection in the mirror is my father. I am 5’6, brown skin with long basketball arms, bright white crooked front teeth, chinky brown eyes, and my mother’s smile.  I didn't have much of childhood only that I was born in a Brooklyn hospital right next to my house. My mother had 7 children all raised in foster care and my father the neighborhood crackhead and dealer.  His swag was real enough to impregnate my mother 7 times and turn her out as a thot and addict, and a clique that followed the code of the streets by staying true to the game.  


Much of what I learned was on the street hanging out with my neighborhood boys either playing ball or slinging.  At 13 I caught my first case that led to juvie and later in-out of foster homes.  My days of gang-banging, slinging, jailing, and in-out of foster care is a movie.  Not to mention 4 baby-mommas and one on the way.  


My last bid was real enough to slow me down.  I was jailing on Rikers Island where I was sentenced to 8 months for violating parole. Sad to say, I left my pregnant girl and my 2 kids at home alone with no money or food to eat. But, She is a soldier and not going anywhere because I am all she got.  The kids have each other and will learn to survive, good or bad,  they have to learn to take care of each other and themselves.  


Eric M. Taylor Center (EMTC) Built-in 1964 and expanded in 1973, EMTC houses males in custody sentenced to terms of one year or less. Most of its housing is dormitory-style. The facility, previously designated the Correctional Institution for Men, was renamed on July 14, 2000, in honor of retired Chief of Department Eric M. Taylor.


I was sentenced to Eric M. Taylor Center (EMTC), which is a sentence building where male  inmates jail in dorms. It got to be at least 25 dorms with at least 50 intimates. Walking through the dorms is a one-way in and one-way out blocked by a big iron gate.  The dorm is divided into 5 sections painted in yellow and green and surrounded by small barred windows. The “bubble” is where the guards congregate; the day room for the inmates to congregate furnished with Crayola colored plastic chairs and 3 tables for playing cards and if you are lucky the dorm may have a tv (wishful thinking);  the bathroom is divided into 2 open sections, 5 showers and 5 toilets open to all to see;  and big open space of 50 bunks. 


Being at EMTC inmates can either work and get paid or program, get either a GED or learn a trade.  Whereas, the other jails with cells, inmates just jail.  How I know so much about the island is that while in foster care I visited my parents so many times that I believed it was home.  


Back to the story, On this one particular day, I woke up knowing that the day would be different.  At 5 am the guards called “visit” and I was on the list.  I was not expecting anyone, but hell I had nothing else to do.  While walking to the showers I noticed a bunch of new dudes came through last night.  I didn't pay to much attention to what was happening but knew enough to mind my business.  One dude called me out telling me to “run my sneakers.” My first reaction was this dude is not talking to me. He must have not gotten the memo. He runs up behind me grabbing me by my legs and pulling my pants down.  As the 2 of us are wrestling I heard guards calling and whistling for backup because it was about to get crazy. Of course, my clique jumped-in, and I was led to the showers to save me from 60 days in the box.  While in the shower I heard 2 dudes talking, one of the voices sounded too familiar especially the game he was spitting, it was crazy.  Walking back to my bunk and listening to the captain yelling that the dorm was shut-down, no visits, no phones, and no yard, I knew it was about to get ugly in here and its 95 degrees outside and 100+ in here, it's going to be a movie. 


Because I was on the side south of the dorm I didn't peep who the 2 dudes in the bathroom were, but my man did report who jumped me.  Although I'm a small dude compared to many my swagger speaks for itself.  Without giving the order my soldiers were ready to move on dude and his clique.  l can move an army if needed.


After 3 hours of being restless and hype, my clique wasn't moving.  My general who has held me down each time I came through reported that the dorm wasn't moving without the “OK” from OG. This got me tight, I don't answer to no-one and definitely from another man who has one leg in and another out.  I moved about through the dorm, and couldn't figure out who this OG was. 


After walking around the dorm, up down and around the dorm, in/out the day room and watching the bathroom, it never occurred to me to visit the “bubble.”  The bubble was only visited by 1st bidders and jailers looking for protection from the guards in exchange for “favors.” Again, I'm a lieutenant, so I got to move with caution.  But, my gut was telling me, this ain't right.  The entire dorm was moving differently like they were scared including my clique because of the OG, no way. 


Finally, I sat waiting for roll call is when I will ID this old dude. On the line up it was noted that the line count was 48, not 50.  Yo, when I looked up it was like looking in the mirror, it was my father! 





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PO Box 110 286 Cambria Heights, NY, 11411 | 917-224-2823 | delgracia2017@gmail.com 

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