in circles

our kind of winter driving


sharp curves ahead.

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today (or one year ago)

ripe plum skin and double bubble sky
the sky looks like a photograph
now, it looks like a painting.

the dogwood trees are in full bloom.

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here overhead
it is shaded, clouds sail across the sun.
but                on a mountain in Nepal
is it raining?

do you know if a snowflake screams as it falls?


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the weight
of a stone in my hands.

and silence
unattended in the woods.


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sosa short essay submissions

One hundred and two days is my greatest accomplishment to date. In one hundred and two days, I have awoke to a life I was sleepwalking through. I have spent one hundred and two days living with a clear mind, a strong voice, and an open heart. I am one hundred and two days into a life of sobriety: the value it has brought to my conscious day-to-day living is immeasurable by any one account. However, I can measure the time I wasted drinking craft beer and tequila sours in bars til last call. I can count the friends I lost because of memories I still can not recall to this day. I can remember how many occasions my father was drunk when we constructed our parent-child relationship. I can still feel the sense of emergency and the push outward of my spiritual soul, cutting and separating from my physical being the last night I would ever drink myself into a stupor. Then I needed a filter to be brave, to take risks, and even to “be myself.” Now I am present each moment of life: a spiritually focused existence on a healing journey into the depths of living mystery. The decision to quit drinking alcohol removed me from a booze filled fog that numbed my senses to the intensity of life and restricted myself from full expansion into my highest form. I owe “my god” to sobriety. Ending the cycle of alcoholism in my family, choosing sobriety each time through every upcoming trial and error, will forever be my greatest accomplishment. And I am only one hundred and two days in.

Education demands heart and hopes for a willingness to admit and accept ignorance. It is from the dunes of unlearning, from the trenches of disillusionment, where individuals emerge as awakened and prepared for oneness with the world. Long before I attended college, I developed an internal understanding to feel shame for not knowing– under any circumstance, in any context, for any reason. Embarrassment of ignorance kept me from obtaining a richer experience of subjects both in and out of the classroom. Because I never said “I do not know,” I never knew. Now I have learned the way to grow is through adversity, through discomfort with the uncomfortable. You must be brave enough to meet yourself again and again. I am not afraid; fearlessly I approach the edge of my intellectual cliff to jump, and free fall into what knowledge comes next. But this shedding of past skins and sins did not come as my free gift with purchase; I continue to work and reshape my perception of what is and isn’t real and honest in life. Day by day, week by week, year by year, I do become closer to what is waiting. My education in the craft of creative writing and future possibilities in career opportunities are one in the same. Learning and education is what, I believe, will sustain me in life. The teacher speaks to the student, who then teaches another student. There are no bounds to this cycle of gifting and speaking slow.


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letters to my father

Letter One

Dear Papa:
The upper trailer windows were cranked wide open in the early early morning hours. So wide that during the night spiders moved into the spaces between the panes and the screens, and spun webs to catch all our future nightmares. Outside was a soft black: obscured and mysterious. The back porch light worked tirelessly to only dimly light patches of ground close enough to it, pushing back the shadows gently around the trailer. Milo and I were sleeping side by side, away in dreams and without any disturbance; The world asleep around us. I awoke out of the dreamy darkness to a haze of the foggy light, the world still, and an immediate feeling someone was outside. Waiting. Papa not something but someone, outside and impressing upon me a mighty energy. How did I know? I could not say, then or now. I felt my mind attempt to catch up to the urgent knowing in my chest that was ferociously searching for, for… before I knew exactly what I sought. I propped the weight of my leaden body up on one stiff arm, rubbed my dilated eyes that lagged behind to process my immediate surroundings. All was still: no movements, no sounds, no visible reasons for jolting me out of a deep sleep. Except this profound feeling in my chest. My head continued turning from window to window; My heart searched for who had put out the call. I lay back down discovering no one discernible. But for long moments after, I was wide awake feeling the unique force within my soul striking bells, ringing out songs I knew not from a language learned but birthed with me into the world–urging me, pleading me, to go outside and meet who was waiting.

In the morning I was told: Royce Clampitt is dead. You were gone just like that: in four words delivered from a bleak face. In a fraction of a second, the outcome of the life I had in mind was burned to ceremonial ash. And I knew it was you outside, waiting.

I waited too long Papa. Within three days time they had cleaned out and packed up your room, before I was able to move through my fog of grief and travel across town. I wanted to lie down flat on your bed and become the seams, woven into your sweat and dreams. I wanted to stretch my arms wide, as wide as you were, to feel for any intricate element of the mattress you molded: the worn spots or valleys where your body lay and asked for sleep. I would stay there for a long while and seep effortlessly into your past grief. I wanted to sit in the chair you died in. I wanted to press my knees against my chest, look to the ceiling and ponder if in those last moments you ever even once opened your eyes. I wanted to sit in the recliner, pull back my head and extend my jaw down until my mouth gaped open, hold it there until it hurt and breathe in a breath you never did. Then try and never move again. I wanted to run my palms over the wood side table collecting the dust and other remnants of you on my skin, and think of all the cribbage games we wouldn’t play. I wanted to smell your ashtray full of smoked cigarettes and touch each empty beer can on your bedside table. I wanted to curl up on the rugs of your floor, inspect with love the little burned black circles from dropped lit cigarettes, and weep. I wanted to lock myself in your room, sit alone in your office rolling chair and watch your old western movies, until I finished them all. I wanted to touch the spine of each book in every one of your piles and know the exact page you left off on, of the last book you would ever start. I wanted to be alone with anything left, any lingering energy present in your room; to be in the room as it was when you were still in it and of this world as my father.

I wanted to stay a lifetime in the room my Papa died in and they did not care to ask. They had done a “favor” for me. I was led outside to your garage to find what was left of your belongings neatly boxed and stacked alongside one wall, not taking up too much space. All the characteristics you never were in life. -JJJ


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each character counted and spaced at proper distance. every word typed out, the text neat and orderly. each letter, every word, any single phrase: all can be referred back to or recalled. documented accounts and seen exchanges. screen light and sound bites. all this technology where physiology would be.


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