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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.

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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

Getting to Know You

Shortly after moving in, my new cellmate suggested we play a game. Every day, we agreed to share one interesting thing about ourselves to get to know each other. Round one: Bo tells me about the cat he had growing up named Mr. Bill, and I tell him about my cat, Polpette (POO-pet), Italian for…

The Hygienist

The last time I saw Jay was at the commissary Monday morning. His number had been called moments earlier, and he'd returned from the window carrying a laundry bag of toiletries and instant coffee. Save for some sugar-free peppermints, he'd bought none of his usual indulgences—no sodas, no Zebra Cakes. He said he was trying…

Voodoo

When a corrections officer came by to pack up my cellmate's belongings this afternoon, my first reaction was joy at realizing I'd have the cell to myself for one night. This, of course, is a euphemistic way of saying I'd be masturbating all night to cologne ads in GQ. I don't mean to sound crass,…