• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 11
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Third-Floor Walk Up

A full seven days since my release. My sleep patterns
remain on jail time. Meaning, I haven’t slept.

Spent the past three months and 21 days
waiting to clear my name. Hundreds of hours
spent watching my shadow
on cell walls.

Finally, I’m home.
Horizontal on a cot beneath a single window.
Watching my shadow dance on a dark ceiling.

Voices whirl, up and down,
from the street level café, three flights below.

Twinkling lights, strung in crisscross formation
across the first floor
room’s richly textured, high gloss ceiling.
Warm glows on the animated faces within.
And without.

Shadows and spirits. Spirits and shadows. Dance. Sway. Swirl.

Laughter drifts through floor vents,
unsure what to make of the sounds of silence within.

Scents of pub food follow. Barbecue tang.
Vegetable oil. Vinegar and burning wood.


Third-Floor Walk Up

Memories of vacuum sealed
meals, bland broths served lukewarm
in bowls of chipped ceramic, and regulated feeding times
dance in my mind.

I’m no longer hungry. No longer craving drink.
Thirsty only for heated conversation.

We answer to the same landlord, though our dollars differ.

Mine sourced from an hourly job I’ve since lost,

cleaning offices at night. Vacuum motors, tossed trash,
sorting garbage bags bursting of mixed plastics.
Toil in uniforms of black on black
and soft-soled, comfort sneaks.

Theirs sourced from a world of high-rise meetings,
power handshakes, and cloths of color. Rich hues
of brown velvet, crimson cotton, and lush green wools.

No longer constrained by bars, clocks, monochrome uniforms,
or fears, I decide to join them.


Third-Floor Walk Up

And their…

        Clinking glasses full of frothy liquids.
        Pockets full of folded bills and shiny coins.
        Red ink stained lips and peach colored cheeks.
        Eyelids the colors of rainbows. Shades of blue, green, and purple.
        Dangling legs adorned with hose and patent heels.
        Speakers streaming mixes of Bruce and Jovi. Journey, too.

My hand digs deep, in soiled pockets. Seize a collection
of rusty coins and dust. Quarters, stacked in groups of four.
Seven dimes. Five nickels. Two pennies.
Just enough for a brew and a game of 8 ball.

I’m ready.
Stand vertical and push through the creaky door.
Soles embark upon the triple flight
of stairs. Downward. Ready to share
My shadows.
My shame.
My self.