Prison Rap Humor and So Much More: “10-15” and Other Poems by Tierry Block

“Tierry Block” is a pen name for the lady in the pen. “10-15” is police code but also a prison code applied to an inmate. At a guess, it became common slang after law enforcement began using 10-15 as police radio code for “prisoner in custody”.

Why does the author need a pen name? Good question, that. Frankly, she may not need one at all; I was the one who thought it might be a good idea. We’ve all heard that old saying that any publicity is good publicity, but that’s not necessarily true for people doing hard time. For the most part, the convicted felon is wise to keep his or her head down, do the time, get the hell out, and stay out. Publicity, if desired, can come later. And since my wife and I have become friends with Tierry, we do our best to avoid doing anything stupid that might have negative consequences for her.

Overkill? Possibly. But better that than the alternative…which I suppose would be underkill or some such, but hey.

When Tierry recited 10-15 to me over a somewhat iffy phone connection, I really liked it and asked her to send me the lyrics (or verses or whatever) if she would like to see them published online. “When your obligation to the State is finished and you are once again a free bird”, I told her, “we can drop the pen name.” But when I got the print version of 10-15, I no longer simply liked it; I loved it.

Note: You may not think it’s all that hilarious, but Tierra does, and so do I, because it’s real. Every inmate who hears Tierra perform the song responds with something like, “Right on! Been there, done that!” Feel free to post a comment to let us know what you think.


by Tierry Block

I have an appointment today
One 10-15 turning out to mental health
Dare not speak, dare not say, anything
To the other 10-15s in the hallway

I see my friend
Mouth a silent “Hello”
“Hey YOU stop!!!!” shouts the guard
As his stomach jiggles like a bowl full of Jell-O
I wonder inside my head,
“Does he play Santa at Christmas?
Even though everyone knows Santa is dead?”

“Another freakin’ ticket.
Another thirty days.”
He’s finished with me
Now I’m on my way
Mental Heath bound

I think I’ll ask the psych doc,
“You got a pill to keep me from speaking?”
Since that seems to be such a serious offense.
He dismisses my request
As quickly as he dismisses me
This time I’m walking fast
‘Cause I really gotta pee

Gate closes
Now I’m stuck
Here comes another guard
“Damn! My tee shirt is untucked!”
“Another freakin’ ticket
Another thirty days.”
He’s finished with me
Now I’m on my way
Housing II bound

“Pop 13 barracks!!”, the guard in the vestibule bellows
“Let the 10-15 in!”
I race to unlock my trunk
Tissue and disinfectant in hand
You know I gotta wipe
Where my butt is gonna land
Sitting on the stool
I breathe a sigh of relief
“Man how I’m tired
Of being a damn 10-15.”

UPDATE: November 12, 2016

Encouraged by the online publication of 10-15 and the fact that readers are finding it–not commenting, most of them, but a few new hits every day–Tierry has begin emailing me more of her poetry. It’s not all humorous, but it’s all good. I decided to keep adding to this page as she keeps sending.

NOTE: Tierry treasures every one of your comments, which I email to her within 24 hours of their arrival on the page, so if you-the-reader can find a moment in your busy day, please do add a line or two. It means a great deal, not only to the author but to her fellow inmates, some of whom, upon hearing she’s been published online, have already become inspired to start writing their own poetry.

by Tierry Block

As I lay down on my cold steel rack
My mind’s eye plays my life from forward to back
Where did I go wrong; what happened to me?
Everyone expected “Miss Smart” to be such a success story
Not the slightest idea of the abuse I suffered, for sure
Never knowing the TORTURE I was forced to endure
Fear of the rejection I’d receive once I had the courage to tell
Guaranteeing my silence, trapping me in an ABUSIVE HELL!
So I hid it from the world, hid it well indeed
Beatific smile, cheerful attitude and a mask of Maybelline
Yet bearing deep inside the burdens of horror alone
Vowing that I would soon leave the hell of my home

If Only….

Trying to force these painful echoes away from me
The voices, sickening scent…why won’t these memories leave?
I’m four years old again, reliving five years of memories
Still wanting to die each time THEY entered me

Pure evil robbing me of my innocence
“Lord, how could you let this happen?”–It just doesn’t make sense
TORMENTING ANGUISH, suddenly crackle, POP, SNAP!!!!!
Propelled back to reality and this cold steel rack.
“What’s wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be loved?”
Rescue my soul Oh God, my Father above!!

If only….

I walk to my cell door, look up through the skylight
Can’t see the blue anymore, since when did the sky become white?
Blood curdling screams emanating from the other cells
Cries from my peers as they battle their demons in their personal hells
This feels like an insane asylum, the “Circus of Hades”
There aren’t any smiles or laughter in this ring
Only souls as tormented as mine, trying to escape the pain
Desolate at the realization all their attempts are in vain
Empathy for their troubles temporarily chasing mine away
A short reprieve, my nightmares retreating for a few seconds today

If only….

Again parallel with my cold steel rack
Berating myself for being foolish enough to come back
“Please God, isn’t there some way you can erase my mind?”
“Give me the strength to rise above and leave my past behind.”
“When did I lose myself and begin to believe
I was destined to live a life of shame and humility?”
How did I become the very person I never wanted to be?
I cry out to God, “I’m horrid and unworthy!”
“No you aren’t.” I hear deep inside of me,
“You have the strength to overcome and set yourself free.”
Warm sunshine streams through the cellblock door
And I am filled with a determination I have NEVER felt before.

NOTE FROM TIERRY: This is a poem of pain and overcoming that I plan on sharing with other women, to show them it is okay to talk about it and that there is hope for healing….