Learners’ Art

Hollow Tree

Matt, HMP Stafford
(how I felt before starting the Restoring Self-Respect Course)

I’m a hollow tree with a squirrel in my head
The outside crumbles cos the inside is dead
The squirrel tells me all I need to know
Like how I’m doing when the pain starts to show

Then a woodpecker lands on my head
The outside crumbles cos the inside is dead
The woodpecker laughs at the nothingness inside
He sets up home for somewhere to hide

The squirrel and the woodpecker up sticks and went
Complaining too much, with too much to vent
My existence forgotten, no flowers ever bloom
My roots are rotten
The darkness starts to loom

I am a dying tree
Nobody sees me
I am a dying tree
Please set me free

Byron, HMP Chelmsford

Those we love don’t go away
They walk beside us every day
Unseen, unheard, but always near
Still loved, still missed and very dear


Duncan, HMP Manchester

Mother you had me and I have you
To love and to cherish, until we die and perish
You have a special place in my heart
And I never want us to drift apart
I know I was a terror
My faults are down to error
The love you gave
I will take to the grave

In my childhood when I was young
A little boy I was highly strung
At school I was bullied but not for long
I was always hanging with the wrong crowd
But I felt big and so proud
So mum, why was I silly and so dumb?
Can you forgive me what I’ve done?

Art by Jasper









Byron, HMP Chelmsford

The pain on my family this sentence has inflicted
The strain on my chest the moment I was convicted
The vein tight on my wrist, the handcuffs restricted
It’s plain simple, from society I was evicted.

Led away to serve 6 years at HMP
I’m over two years from serving the three
Lewes, Highpoint, The Mount, Coldingley
In 6 months time local release at Elmley

Inside everyone there’s always that fear
Of losing the people you love very dear
I’ve lost two special people since I’ve been in here
I’m never coming back when I get out next year

Everyone in the system, let’s stop and think
Life goes by in the twitch of a blink
Is it really worth it? Four walls, a toilet and sink
Them horrible nights when you can’t get to sleep

It’s no life and that I’m a strong believer
Think how it affects your family on the phone receiver
Too much jail is like a bad fever
So get this out of your system and let the illness leave ya


Peter B., Released

An idea, what is its source?
Something clicks in the brain
Start neurons running their course
As if travelling along on a train!

Simply put, but it doesn’t show why
When something feels absolutely right
We do it, or to be exact we may try
To bring the hidden thought into light!

What is this to do with Criminon you ask?
Well to be sure it feels right to me
And by example and setting out a small task
It makes me think – and then I’ll see

Exactly what is meant to be learned?
From each and every well set lesson
Until the message has been burned
Into my psyche from every session

We all should learn to think each day
On how we may improve our world
And Criminon helps to show the way
A banner with a message is unfurled

So once the book has been read
Carefully, a moral message is sent
Deep in the brain inside your head
And your time has always been well spent

Life Can Be Cruel

(an original work of Gerald)

Life can be cruel, it’s a shame
Some people are constantly hungry
Or in lots of pain
Others languishing in prison
becoming insane

For many, self-respect,
self-worth shall be hard to regain
Due to them making an unfortunate mistake
That caused their character to stain
Others sent to prison, where a judge ruled
for a fixed period they must remain.

JJ, HMP Dovegate

It’s hard to breathe
Can’t stand the pain
I cry with tears
I’m going insane
You give me hope
My ray of light
We will get through this
It’s worth the fight
Remember the fun?
How it used to be?
Well hold those feelings
I’ll soon be free!

K.M., HMP Lewes

You didn’t raise me like this
I know I’ve let you down
Should’ve followed the right example
Instead of playing the clown

Didn’t think of the consequences
Didn’t think at all – full stop
Should’ve listened all that time ago
I’m listening now – it’s too late

Criminon Tutor Award
Made by Tony G, 
HMP Stocken


Reach Out

Tribute to Blind and Sighted Veterans


Reach out for help
There are people there
Don’t fight it alone
You’ve done your share

Don’t suffer in silence
In sleepless nights
In frustration or anger
Or unwanted fights

Don’t feel like a fraud
If no limbs you have lost
In requesting for help
For the psychological cost

Whether physical or mental
There are those who’ll understand
With skill and compassion
To lend a helping hand



Comfort is a mother’s love
Within her arms, all warm and snug!
Comfort is a cosy place
Nice things, a clean and tidy place

Comfort, being free from pain
Warm and dry, no snow or rain!
Free from sorrow, free from strife
Only joy within one’s life!

Where war is met with endless peace
Fighting to forever cease
Where colour creed and race
Can live as one, within the human race!

Comfort to put one at ease
To free one’s sorrow, in one’s grief!
A baby cries for its comfort friend
With dummy supplied
Its crying’s at an end!

The cosy scarf around one’s neck
That grandma knitted painstakingly
Just for that look on her grandchild’s face
That says look, look gran excitedly

The skill and care at hand
The surgeon with the knife
Often holds the key
To death or life!
Though our fears are ever present
A gentle voice to please
Reassuringly explains it’s okay
To put our minds at ease

A Mother Has Many Hats


A mother is an angel
A mother is a friend
A mother is a tailor
Torn clothing she can mend

A mother is a full time nurse
Always there to care
A mother is a full time cook
Delicious treats to prepare

A mother is so many things
Spreads her love with earthly wings
And only when her brood are satisfied
Will she know how much she’s tried

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