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Choose a distinct period of your life—a time of your life with a beginning, middle, and end: 6th grade, or the year you worked at that restaurant, or that break-up, or the summer after your senior year in high school. Choose it, and then stick with it. Now, describe it for ten minutes, in as much sensory detail as possible, using only your recollections of what clothes you wore then. If you can’t remember, make it up. Sneakers? Same pair of jeans every day? You may add accessories! Glasses! Hat! You may add make-up or deodorant or hair gel if you like—although that’s not clothes ☺. Describe what you went out into the world wearing during that period. Think of that as the costume, the armor, the exterior that was attached to you during that time. If you get stuck, make it up. Be sure, however, to describe in great detail one thing in particular—really zooming in on it. The heel of a shoe. A belt buckle. The zipper on that jacket. Try, in your description, to capture the emotional essence of that time period as you recall it. The bottom of a shoe can be devastating, or it can be the happiest week of someone’s life. What you find yourself describing will tell you what that period of your life was all about. Find out.

Play Clothes
By S.Atticus O.


Jordan’s. Actually Carmelo 1.5s
‘Sagging’ style belt below cheek
Shelf Who was that guy
Trying to find himself?

Flatbrim hats were in
In 2014 in certain
Circles I ran in.
“That’s clean” a win.

Knowing no one
But baseball buddies
I loved but so different from
I tried to be among, but me

Who was he?
Lost but me a little
Wearing tees with drake
Lyrics in the middle.


Year I became Troy
Bolton - wore Cassius Clay
Short-sleeve to rehearsal before
Practice on a fall Saturday.

Switch to vans - tan ones -
Which I biked or ran a muck
To class in each day “Damn Daniel”
Because costumes needed my chucks

Cleats dirt-covered May
I would catch that game the bus
On my bike I was faster
Pants - Blood, dirt, baseball must.

Who was he?
Maybe a little me
Uniforms and costumes
Caught in between.


O, the sweater
O, the rug a rag
Robe for grandma pimps
“You should have a Jaguar”

Only theatre I do,
Don’t care, best student
“I [do] don’t care what You think”
but “that’s mint” “I know...thanks”

“I don’t own the school
I run the whole system
In my new money robe knock
knock. Busy. You missed him.”

Who was he?
Arrogant bottle of anxiety
Ridden confused simplicity.
Wack used h&m sweater complex ILY.


Black jeans of ease
No more thrift shop
Panties in a twist
Only chop-chop

“Application please”
Audition block.

Wore a little necklace
Zia I still wear it today
Don’t need real clothes
For going to school to play.

Who was he?
Wearing a Zia sun
Necklace reminding him
He’s still he after his play’s done.


Just married.
And young and a little wobbly,
In need of a sturdy pair of shoes.
Blue, flat, and canvas shoes -
What my mother and my grandmother (and Mr. Rogers) wore.
The laces link and loop between them and me,
Hill top to lakefront and steel mill to rust belt,
Steady soles anchor feet.


It’s always the question.
Also, sometimes you’re lost and have to stop
someone on the street to ask for directions. Also:

what do you plan to do with the rest of your life?

And: you think you can just go on like this?

But don’t ask for answers from this girl
in the faux fur coat. She’s
wearing her friend’s shoes. Her

friend gave them to her because they hurt.

She’s hobbling a bit.
Looks confused.
She has no idea where she’s going next. Big

feathery earrings. No—

earring. One of them got caught in her hair
and then it fell on the street somewhere.

She’s not to the one to ask.
But if she could answer your question—

It would be cheating. She has

the answers in the pocket of her faded
kneeless jeans. She’s
going to pass the test, get an A in the class
because she’s too afraid to wear anything
she didn’t get from someone else

who didn’t want it.They
know her name at the thrift shops. She’s

wearing a scarf some dead
grandmother knitted for her favorite of
the grandchildren. Some

other girl who let it drop
beneath the bleachers
and never bothered to look for it
in the Lost & Found. That

box behind the front
desk of the blue
light of the front
desk in the high
school office.

It’s hers now.

She’s got the answers, but
they aren’t hers. Don’t

ask her. She’s
wearing her mother’s sunglasses
and her father’s camouflage hat.
She doesn’t want to do
or wear
anything she has to choose
But she’s not afraid of you
or anything else. The problem will
always be
that she’s always known
there would be answers, and that
she’d have them to give, since

the answers belonged
to someone else, long before
they asked her to give them back.


       boots broken in
as I was being broken in
to the raw swell of that place:
Oklahoma, 1977. Hide

       stained black
as my dreams,
chiseled by nerves,
scored red, whittled down. I

       wore them
until my heart broke,
until the wind of that place
had its way at last.