Kayla Marie Williams


Kayla Marie Williams

Food Stamp Zen

Clean the dust out of the corners of your room,
then look at the balance again.
Do the math inside your head,
then go out and get what you can.
Think about what could be worse.
Grab oranges as if they were the last
gifts on earth.
Think about how warm soup can calm you,
coat your insides
like love never seemed to.
Think about how here it feels
like feeling at ease is only for people
who have never counted the quarters in their pockets
to see what they could equal.
Think about how cool a coin feels against your fingertips
and how pleasure can sometimes be felt more acutely
when pain bleeds around it.
Think about joy and how you must
concentrate on finding it.
Carry your bags inside and think about
how you will survive.
Get under the blanket your mother sent you
and listen to the rain hit the trash cans outside.
Think about fear as if it were just garbage
you could throw away,
like dust cleared out of the corners
of your brain.
Think about balance and if you’ll ever
find it again.


“This snow is all going to turn to mud,” she says.
We’re walking in it and I keep wishing for spring.
She’s reminding me of the part in between,
how things must melt and flood before
anything can grow.
Lately, I’ve felt the flood in me,
flashed feelings
drowning out the circuit breakers
of my brain.
My heart muddied,
I am stuck in place.
The ground sinks and each movement
is treacherous.
Lately, I’d rather hide under ice than
find what’s underneath.
I am afraid of the rush of what I can’t control.
I am afraid of the rotting at the roots of things
before they even begin.
“Aren’t you looking forward to spring?” I ask her, walking faster, against the cold wind.
“Yes, but it will get cold again first,” she says, “Why rush what will come anyway?”
And I think it’s her youth
that makes her think the sun
is an inevitable thing,
that warmth always returns.
I am older and I don’t rely on much
coming back anymore.

But I know I can no longer fear
the in-between.
The changing of things.
The uncertainty.

The Lost Boys

The lost boys come
with their tales of woe,
they come wearing scuffed up shoes,
grasping their empty pails,
taking their awkward steps,
mouthing their stilted speech,
shuddering off daily fears,
singing their darkness songs.
They know the kind who’ll stop and listen.
They know the kind who will try to walk down a road
as if that will make more sense
than standing still.
They recognize the kind
who’ll hold them.
So when I see them coming towards me, of course I stop.
Of course, I lean towards them when they bare their teeth, so hungry.
I bend down and unfasten the closed buttons,
unfold the corners, pull out the tattered tin so deep and misshapen,
pushed and hiding down the dark cavity of my chest,
masquerading as stone.
This is all I have left
to feed them.
This is all I have left
to give.
Take it, I say.
And they do, but don’t stay.
Yes, they do, but don’t stay.



 Kayla Marie Williams 

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Bio: Kayla Marie Williams was born in Austin, Texas. She has a B.A. from Oberlin College & a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She, along with fellow poet Lorraine Cipriano, co-founded Woman Unbound (www.facebook.com/womenunbound), a literary series at the Sanger Branch Library that features women writers from or now living in Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan.  Kayla also hosts a freeform music show called Radio Alchemy (which includes a poem read aloud each week before the last song is played). Radio Alchemy has won a Best Music Show Award from Radioflag in both 2013 and 2015. You can find her radio page at www.facebook.com/radioalchemyfm. She is currently at work on her first novel.