Theme Prisoner Express establishes both a Word Theme and a Picture Theme for each month for prisoners to base their writing off of. This essay by Daniel Montaño was a response to our “Mask” theme essay packet in May 2017.


Behind the Lace, by Daniel Montaño

So this is me, a gangster, born and raised in the south side of Chicago, living that thug life I was born into. Following the footsteps of my own father, uncles and brother. There is something else I feel I was born into: the femininity within me, which like my gun, is always with me.

This is how I wanted to present myself to you. I made this myself. I really wanted it to be a dress, but I didn’t have the courage to see it through. Ain’t that something. I have the courage to face a bullet fired at me out of an enemy’s gun, but I don’t have the courage to simply be me.

My heart tells me to put the gun down, along with everything that isn’t me, the things of this world that I let define me. My mind tells me to raise this gun to my head and end my pain of a life lived in vain because I will never have the courage to live what should by my beautiful reality. What do I do? Pray to a god who according to this world hates me? Hate, hate, hate is all around me. Where is the peace and love my heart cries out for? What will my next move be? I talk of peace and love, things that cannot exist while raising a gun.

So I’ll make my move. I’ll put this gun down. I’ll put this hypocritical hate down. It’s a move I can do on my end to clean the slate instead of letting this world dictate my fate. I’ll let my heart do its thing. Hey, maybe it will make out of me what I made out of this lace: something beautiful where I don’t have to cover my femininity, no matter it manifests itself. I will be at peace knowing it’s truly me.