Tears of the Mothers (Paintoem)
Prison Artists
C-Note (poet) and Guerilla Prince (visual artist)

Tears of the Mothers is a perfect example of the power of the Paintoem (painting + poem), as it brought together the raw power of two artists, who were willing to cross racial lines, in an environment where non-racial interaction is the extreme norm.

I remember watching the movie Colors in the LA County Crip Module, states C-Note. I’m locked up, so I don’t get to experience the gang drama on the streets associated with the movie’s release. But why did a movie billed as a movie about the Crips versus the Bloods, end with a Black gang member and a Mexican gang member killing each other? With the white movie casts of Sean Penn and Duval, I instinctively knew, the whites were setting us up for future gang warfare between the Blacks and the Mexicans in L.A.

Sure enough, five years later, in the aftermath of Black gang unity from the L.A. riots, Black and Brown gang warfare rapidly picked up. This hatred fought itself out in the county jails, and metastasized inside the prisons.

So, in 2016, Tears of the Mothers, a self-imposed, organic collaboration between a Black street gang prisoner and a Chicano street gang prisoner was absolutely profound. When Annie Buckley, founder of the Prison Arts Collective, first heard C-Note’s recitation of the poem, and accompanying original artwork, she was moved to tears.

Tears of the Mothers deals with the very unique proposition mothers face living in the gang capital of the planet.


or handcuffs

Mother’s love

not enuff

still got snuffed

or locked away

What’s a mom to do?

Cause if you cry

and post a hashtag

as in Black Lives

you’ll be vilified

If your tears

bring a makeshift memorial

on the sidewalk

they’ll tear it down

Prince taught us

that doves cry

but if you’re poor

or of color

These mothers’ cries

mainstream America


The tears





Poem by: C-Note

Painting by: Edgar “Guerilla Prince” Aguirre

Tears of the Mothers is an original ink drawing created by Guerilla Prince in 2015. This moving piece was donated to Father Boyle of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. Prints and related products are available for purchase at Fine Art America.

Paintoems blend poetry with visual art, inspired by either paintings/drawings or vice versa. These unique digital artworks are classified under Creative Commons (CC), allowing the public to freely use them with proper artist attribution. 

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