The Pittsburgh Foundation

I start my journey so strong

Nicole Reed, a Words Without Walls graduate and former resident of Sojourner House, shares her favorite writing spot with her son, Dominic.


by Nicole Reed

I start my journey
so strong I am not
afraid to be alone
I walk and walk trying so
hard to rid myself of the
pain I feel
There was somebody up ahead
in the distance
I thought I was alone
There he was so handsome
and charming
He was everything I
So kind and compassionate
he was
All he wanted to do was
ease my pain
I loved the way he made me
I wanted him with me
The one day I had
to leave
He would not let me go
and made me stay
How could I be fooled 
So easily
A wolf he was now
Didn’t I know
I cried for help but
nobody came
could they not hear
my cries, didn’t anybody
So foolish I was to think
somebody would come
Nobody could save me
It had always been me
I was the only one who
could ever save myself here

Since 2009, Words Without Walls has helped those on society’s margins find their voices and tell their stories. With support from The Pittsburgh Foundation’s A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund, which supports small arts organizations throughout the region, graduate students from Chatham University’s creative writing program teach nine-week courses at the Allegheny County Jail, the State Correctional Institution of Pittsburgh and Sojourner House—a residential drug and alcohol treatment program for women and their children. The courses teach men and women techniques for writing about—and beyond—their surroundings and circumstances, giving them tools for self-confidence and helping to prevent recidivism. For some, that means exploring the past in poems, essays and stories. For others, it means looking to the future. And for Nicole Reed, a poet and former resident of Sojourner House, it means looking inward for the hope, resilience and strength needed to overcome addiction. 

Original story appeared in the 2015-16 Report to the Community