Jason Stephen Shapiro has a background in theater, photography, and radio. He served on the nationally acclaimed American River Review as a fiction editor in 2012. Jason published his first sestina the following year in the same magazine. He graduated, with honors, from American River College in 2013 with A.A. degrees, in English. He is currently working on his B.A. in English at Sac State, and is on the dean’s honor list. Jason currently holds the office of Treasurer for the Sac State English Club. He plans to pursue his M.A. at Sac State, and his P.H.D. degree at another university, not yet decided, so that he may give back as a teacher, the enriched appreciation for literature he received as a student, from the English professors of the American River College and Sacramento State English Departments.


"Distant Traveler"

Yazoo records was proud to produce the blues

of “Blind” Willie Johnson. His spiritual signal

shone through regaled transmissions, a voice

of gospel, no remission. “Blind” Willie played,

the pulse of God would play through him.

Upon hearing his music you would infallibly fly.


An ear to the world, knowing he would never fly

far from home, or sail across the beamless blue

ocean to exotic places, Blind Willie wrote hymns

incepted from his desperate heart, sent his signal

out to hold the ones that needed to play,

embrace those that needed joy; gave them a voice.


Willie Johnson was blind-sided, his voice

rang in ascension above the fold, chosen to fly

in a space craft, etched on a golden disk to be played

by distant beings, a voyage far remote from our blue

world. The music is now woven beyond the signal

of our sun, and Blind Willie Johnson, son of Him.


In the dark of night, Voyager brings eternal glory to him

on that golden record. In flight, radio waves voice

the bearing report through cold skies in a signal

becoming more distant with time. Its final fly-by

from this system circled Neptune, a planet of deep blue,

a brief orbit to sling-shot away, like a comet’s play.


He is modest, but cannot feign or downplay

the significance. Willie can see in himself

an immaculate message, not with pale blue

eyes, but with the pure vestige of his voice

unhinged into rhythms and cries that fly

boundless in blue starlight signal.


Voyager travels with no red light signal.

Willie survives among the stars, deployed

where the sunder sun’s rays no longer fly.

Wonder endures. Can Voyager hear Him?

The craft sends back its weaker voice

then sails distant, where red light turns blue.


God and Voyager both fly him.

Voyager and Willie signal in red display,

But Blind Willie’s voice is the only one blue.

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