:: Article

Naked in Front of Strangers #2

By Kimberly Cooper Nichols.

Life is magical when I step out of my own way, turn off my ego and pay attention to the things that lend the most bliss to my path.

A blind faith takes hold as the hormonal and schizophrenic October envelops the city with dense fog that regularly steams my windows,

Hinting at the heat of creation that stews of late within these beach side walls,

Alternating with breezes that blow wood slats from my gate,

So that with blustery trees in the front yard spilling leaves on my laptop, I blissfully pound the literary keys,


While brewing astragalus root in the kitchen for cramps,

I paint white feathers on pink owls that come to me during meditative journeys,

The written word and the blank canvas perpetually pulling me away from the rest of the world,

Just like the artist I admire who is currently obsessed with dying clouds a variety of colors.

I’ve given up on the idealism of fixing this world and am now conspiring to build my own secret garden on a parallel paradigm,

Born of the comforts of finding love and a tribe in which my quirks are unconditionally embraced,

A concept that takes hold as I age, content to build a singular world around me and fill it with select occupants who have proven their merit in gold.

I have regular dreams of carrying a tiny turtle around at my breast,

Born of altered spaces and subconscious ephemera while every day another botanical specimen becomes extinct,

Life snuffed out by those who live carelessly and callously while ruling the psyche’s mainstream.

I spend three weeks rehearsing and acting in a play and every night downtown at break I go outside to watch people in the streets,

I can tell winter is coming because the American Apparel mannequins have hard nipples behind neon lit glass under pale tank tops,

A tatted up homeless kid tells me that all he needs is food, water, warmth, cigarettes and coffee and that Los Angeles has millions of smoke-able butts in the gutters,

A man bikes by playing the Beatles from a speaker hanging from his handlebars,

Another sits on a boardwalk bench eating trashy potato chips while downing Belgium ale,

And I am quite all right with being an artist on the edge so that I don’t have to learn how to behave or live under the fear of anyone expecting anything proper of me.

I am attempting to rediscover a sense of wide-eyed wonder,

Fully aware that sometimes the hardest thing about waking up is realizing just how long you have been asleep,

There’s simply no more time to play slave to expectations when you realize that death is inevitable,

So you walk exposed, skin flayed to bone.


Kimberly Cooper Nichols is an artist, writer and social anthropologist living in Venice Beach, California. She has been exhibiting for over a decade as a conceptual artist in the United States and is the author of the book of literary short fiction Mad Anatomy. She also serves as editor for the socially progressive journal Newtopia. She is a contributing editor to 3:AM where her serial poetry column Naked in Front of Strangers appears monthly. She is currently at work on her second book Neptune’s Journey as well as a 22-piece conceptual art project titled FOOL.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, November 16th, 2012.