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Pink Socks

The first thing one notices is the chair. Comprised entirely of straight lines with minimal upholstery, it's a chair designed for utility rather than comfort. On the seat is a device like a small heating pad on which I'm asked to sit and, in the polygrapher's words, "take it easy," though neither of us believes…

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About Five to Twenty

In 2011 the author was sentenced to twelve years in federal prison for downloading child pornography. He was released in 2021 and now resides in Texas. For more than a decade he has written extensively about his experiences as a defendant, prisoner, and as an ex-felon and registered sex offender reentering society.

Recent

The Problem List

Clark smiled broadly, which was unusual for Clark. Prone to anxiety and depression, he often sat through our weekly sex offender treatment sessions wearing an exhausted, dour expression, as though his life were coming to an end and he'd sooner sleep through the last dreadful bits. But today he smiled—it was a rather handsome smile—and…

Edgar

A flicker in the bottom corner of my eye, too quick to identify but slow enough to determine speed and direction. It's source: the dried goods shelf where oyster and hoisin sauce cans are stacked in rows; it's destination: the small, irregular hole at the baseboard behind the stove. Unperturbed, I continued sliding blocks of…

Homecoming

My neighbor died the day I moved into my apartment. This I learned from another neighbor, Dillan, who lives three doors down. She'd went by Charlie, he said, and added that she'd been very old, nearly ninety, and in poor health. She'd had a cat. This I learned not from Dillan but surmised myself from…

Essays from Prison

Hard Candy

Jack stops to smell the roses, an actual rose bush blooming outside the chow hall. He figures since the bush blooms once a year he has only to smell the roses ten more times before they let him out of prison. He'd pick a few blossoms and make rose water if there were any Iranians…

South

We sit with our elbows on the metal desk in his cell reciting parts of speech. The desks, painted what I call institution-gray, are inscribed with the histories of each cell's past and current occupants: a water mark where someone set their Ramen to cook, gang graffiti left behind by Latin Kings, a hazy cloud…

Mr. Winky

"I believe these are for you," I said tossing the photos on the cook's bunk. Though the envelope had arrived addressed to me, I knew from its contents that it belonged to the cook. Inside are photos of women in various states of undress, kneeling, pouting, bending, spreading. But what struck me wasn't the nudity…