from “This Is Not Voyeurism” Café

The café is an overflow where mats can be put down as early as 9 PM; I step around and over bodies to get into the kitchen. I prepare coffee for the morning, and there is vulnerability on the linoleum. Mats underneath the dining tables with sheets draped over–like tents. I can’t see faces, but I know who sleeps where and I can hear snoring, and the men who sleep out in the open. Mats line the walls and I see their faces in sleep. The way he tosses his arm over his face, how easily he wakes up by any slight noise, and that man, near the soda machine, curled up in fetal position and whimpering in a dream. This is not for me to witness, this is heartbreak and a militia ambushed without even being aware. These are fatalities– I’ve caused countless fatalities by watching, mouths slightly open, lightly breathing, faces like children.

Kelley Irmen is still traumatized from all the times her elementary school in Georgia forced her to attend fieldtrips to the zoo. She is finishing her MFA in Poetry at Colorado State University.