Being Incarcerated During COVID-19

Rehabilitation Through The Arts (RTA), an arts-in-prison program, has been highlighting its alumni members through messages about life during COVID-19. For instance, a recent video shows RTA alum Ivan Cal-aff reciting an excerpt from Today, a poem written by his friend who is currently incarcerated. The words speak to the fears many incarcerated individuals are experiencing during this pandemic.


Today I felt like crying.

I think it had something to do with coming to grips with the fact that I am being chased, stalked, hunted by an invisible enemy; an enemy that doesn’t care that I have a young daughter who just found me after 18 years of being shuttled through the foster care system; an invisible monster that doesn’t care about my two beautiful grandchildren who have not gotten the chance to meet Grandpa. 

Today I felt like crying. 

I think it had something to do with becoming paralyzingly aware that I’m a sitting duck, a lamb waiting to be slaughtered, as I sit in my penetrable open-air tomb listening for a beast that doesn’t make a sound.

A version of this article first appeared in the May issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at

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