Rock Co. inmate overcomes demons with pen and paper

Jeremey Duncan, an inmate at the Rock Co. Jail, recites his poem "The Door."
Jeremey Duncan, an inmate at the Rock Co. Jail, recites his poem "The Door."(WMTV/Lou Thao)
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 11:06 PM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - A Beloit man is using a poem about his decades-long battle with drug addiction to inspire others, including his prison mates.

Jeremey Duncan has been serving time at the Rock County Jail due to the effects of his addiction.

“There’s a big metal door that I have to look at for 12 hours out of the day,” Duncan said. “I’m on this side of it and everything else in the world that I love is on the other side of it.”

The 43 year old said he has two kids, and they’re typically where his thoughts turn inside his cell. “How they’re growing up without me. The things that they got to go through,” he said. “Your family falls apart when you go to jail.”

But last month, prison staff created a writing competition for inmates. Amy Evans, a reentry social worker, said, “It’s a way for [inmates] to express themselves, get their emotions out on paper. It’s very therapeutic to do that.”

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, this is the coolest thing that happened in jail,’” Duncan said. He has the word “poet” tattooed on his left hand.

“God has given me a talent, and I know what it is,” he said.

Duncan entered a poem called “The Door,” based on a meeting inside a jail cell with God.

“I never even gave myself the chance to dream, closed the door so no one could hear me scream,” Duncan said, beginning to recite his poem by memory. He said he has been rewriting the poem since he put the first words on paper 20 years ago.

Rock Co. Sheriff Troy Knudson selected Duncan’s piece as the winning entry in the competition’s first round.

“I was absolutely blown away by the writing here,” Knudson said. “On top of taking the time to think through some of the issues, just the way he expressed it, to me it seemed almost like an art.”

Monday night, Duncan said he recited his poem for the other inmates in his unit. “I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in the faces of people. I seem to have an effect,” he said.

“I can change my entire world with a pen. I can’t make it stay what I made it into. But even if it’s just for a little while, from looking at the paper, I’m not looking at the door.”

According to jail staff, the creative competition has two more rounds, including one which will ask inmates to draw a cell door.

“The Door” By Jeremey Duncan

I never even gave myself the chance to dream

Closed the door so no one could hear me scream

Trapped inside this dark dirty little room

At the rate I’m going it might be my tomb

I know that I don’t wanna die here all alone

Fearful of facing the demons I’ve always known

I hear the foot steps down the tier I know they’re coming

I hear the snare and the bass as the devil keeps drumming

I can’t run from the evil there’s no place to hide

Everything I’ve been feeling comes from inside

Inside the mind of this lonely deranged drug addict

I heard a knock at the door that’s when I panicked

I fear they’ve come here to get me and show me my death

So I put my hands together and took one last deep breath

I dropped to my knees and I started to pray

“Please LORD don’t let them take me, please LORD not today”

As the door slowly opened a brilliant light shone through

There stood my savior He said “I’ve come here for you.”

I looked up at Him with tears in my eyes

I asked “Oh Heavenly Father is it my time to die?”

“No my son” He answered as He held out His hand

“I’m here to save you from yourself, do you understand?”

People always ask me exactly what He meant

“What were you doing to yourself What did He prevent?”

I answer the loss of my very soul, it burning eternally in hell”

Drugs gave me insanity a place called craziness in which I dwell

Except today I’m not trapped in an addicted mind anymore

Now everyday yeah EVERY DAY I thank GOD... for opening The DOOR.

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