Layers

Photo by James Williams
Sitting in the snack bar 
waiting for the 
beginning.

Washing gray sheets in the bathtub.
Sleeping with a knife 
stuck in the mattress springs
just in case.

Our dog barking outside the window
on the flat roof. Not 
recognizing me in the
new maternity clothes.

After Dinner

Looking into his
eyes while 
he talked, I was
him.

opia
n. the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable—their pupils glittering, bottomless and opaque—as if you were peering through a hole in the door of a house, able to tell that there’s someone standing there, but unable to tell if you’re looking in or looking out.

From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Sixth Grade Graduation

That day 
after graduation was perfect. Detroit 
winter cold, snow piled on both sides of the 
shoveled sidewalks and smooth
all over Deidre’s unshoveled backyard. We threw 
snow balls and laughed all afternoon. One
hit me in the face, the boy I can’t 
remember wiped it gently off.

The most perfect day. Snow,
kindness, freedom.
A part of the whole, 
not knowing I
was strange.

You can find the complete original poem here https://ruffdraftsite.wordpress.com/2020/07/07/graduation-party/

The Olden Days

Photo by James Williams © Kristin Cleage
We stayed up all
night silk screening posters. Revolu-
tion begins in the mind. 
Typing up
newsletters, Fuck 
Busing. Showing movies 
The Battle of
Algiers. A sadly small
collection of rele-
vant books. Living in the
back rooms. The dank basement where I went
to light the busted furnace.
The collaged wall. Did
the next tenants paint it
out?

11:16 PM

npr drones on. The dryer
tumbles the last load of wet clothes. Click. Hum.
The overhead fan cools my bare arm. 
My leg aches. Will it stop so I can work or do I need a new way to work. One 
thing, I need to get off this phone. 
Sleep.