He tromps over clumps of dried mud, swaths of nettled fields, paths blotched with the bones of bison, koalas, macaws. In the distance boats belch their swollen horns. The man drags a duffle stuffed with pots and pans, masks carved from the trunks of teak, prayers scrawled into tablets of granite. He huffs and lumbers and lugs. Gulps shards of blistering air. Wipes sweat from his grimy face. At dusk, while the sun slips behind hills like an egret’s egg, he untethers his bloated ruck, collapses at the bank of the river, plunges fingers into gritty silt. Breathes in. Breathes out. Discerns the hair-thin laughter of children, the raucous trill of birds, the restless groan of mountains. The man treads into darkening water… slinks beneath the scrim… waggles toward the ocean.
John Langenfeld entered the Texas prison system at the age of twenty-one and served fifteen consecutive years. While incarcerated he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in literature from University of Houston at Clear Lake. John is a lifetime member of Sigma Tau Delta – International English Honor Society. He has been published in Entropy, The Threepenny Review and was a finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize 2017.