Sometimes I wonder why
I live so much life
when you are done
living yours each day.
As you lie in your bed,
resting and recovering
from the energy spent
being you or assuming
the role draped across
your waking shoulders,
I come to life,
in the near-sleep,
staring straight up
into the dark, where
my imagination shines.
While you sleep,
we are performing
in daytime, when
the light blinds
my mind’s eye.
It is my balancing time
between day’s dull reality
and night’s brilliant hope,
no matter how fanciful.
Maybe that’s why it’s called
Poem-a-Day for April 26th, an “evening” poem.
The blanks outnumber the faces now.
Too many of their names were erased
by nightwind after nightwind
when I no longer talked to them,
I remember you, but not really.
You’re a placeholder of
I never understood and now
stand no chance of recapturing.
How can I recapture in this art
of artful remembering what I
never truly captured first?
And so, you are lost to me,
and so is he, she and them,
this population of my mind.
The diaspora of the beautiful
and the profane,
the angelic and the insane,
washed away by the rains
pushed over me by the fears
I tried to escape
by not closing my eyes
in this battle that’s left me old.
Even if I’m shown a
photo and reminded
the you I see will more than likely
be blown away
by the sleepless nightwinds
and the forgotten dawns
left to me.
Day 12 of Poem-a-Day April.
Somewhere between asleep and awake
I find myself in the only place
I never think of you.
Maybe it’s because I tried
too hard yesterday and tired
too hard last night, hoping
I might see you, hear you,
perhaps in that dreamtime
before sleep spits me out
like a cherry stone, the too
hard heart of something
soft and sweet. Or even tart.
It is the silent moment
before voices call and
the eyes open to morning.
This is the quiet place
where I am ever alone,
and I’ve come to love it
as much as I love you.
Day 1 of Poem a Day Challenge 2019. A “morning” poem.
The pillow to my back’s giving a push
toward this keyboard that won’t give an inch.
That’s how it’s been for this long lonely while
when the only you I see is up where
the stories come, through the dark to my bed.
That’s not in any dream, but in that time
between awake and not, since sleep won’t come
in the sense that I awaken like new.
I don’t really sleep, not because of you,
but because my sore old heart’s not in it,
just like your heart’s not lying here near mine.
So I toss and knot blankets, turn pillows
into lovers and foes. Doesn’t matter
since they’re not really human, though I am.
I’m so human, I miss something never mine,
which is why imagination became
my dear new friend and worst old enemy.
But that’s how I see you, through darkened rooms
like centrally heated tombs, where I share
a bed with ghosts of the not dead yet lost.
And they steal the covers and push me off
the edge, toward this keyboard upon which
I crash, opening the wound that you see
right here, amid all these, my other scars,
the ones hung on night air, like you-named stars.
I hope to smile as I sit up
in bed from another night of sleep.
Real sleep, not the toss and turn,
the clusters of one-eyed
the bedclothes-shifting kick-flips
of the nocturnal 5000-meter
medley swimmer in the sheets.
I won’t be sad when
I sink to the bottom five minutes
after I dove under the covers,
as long as I don’t awaken
with a gasp and snort of a man
who really DID sink to the bottom
of a pool on his way to swimming out of
That guy doesn’t smile when dawn
slaps him like a walrus flipper
with that long arousal called
But that smile’s just a dream,
and we who don’t sleep
the good sleep tend not to dream.
And dreaming would be a dream come true.
Then dawn would break open
with a smile for me..and you…
Lately, this same dream comes to me every night. It’s a dream in which I’m treading water in the middle of a vast ocean on a night of the new moon. I rise and fall on the swells of this inky deep that fills the great depression beneath me. I can tell I’ve been in this water a long time because my fingertips are pale prunes and my eyes sting from the tear-like waters that splash my face. Occasionally in my dream, I sense a vessel approaching, but my voice makes not a sound, my words, my cries for help lie stillborn. I am silent, invisible, mere flotsam as far as they can tell. Often, I recognize the passing craft, perhaps as if I launched it myself or I once sailed with it in my younger days of even a great grey ship of the line bearing a USS (insert some President’s name here) on its prow. And as they drift by my silent kicking and stroking that keep my head above the dark void that would consume me, they toss something over the side. I always hope perhaps it’s a life preserver or line with which to haul me free. But it inevitably turns out to be more ballast that snugly tangles around me and smugly seeks to pull me down, down, down below the surface again. Sometimes it succeeds. But I’ve always had sharp teeth and a sense of survival and place to know in which direction to swim for the surface again. Lately, though, I’ve lost my bearings and the weights have dropped upon me all at once in a tangle of knots and cables I can’t seem to chew through. And I’m going down, down, down. The interesting part of all this dream scenario is that I don’t think of the things above, below and all around me in any concrete terms or even ideas. They’re all just vague faces floating around in the darkness that consumes me. It’s all dark clouds, but not in any poetic sense. Almost literally dark clouds is all my brain can conjure. And when I finally find the emotional and intellectual wherewithal to chew on something for a moment, it just gets covered up by all the other things spinning around me. This sounds scary because to me it isn’t scary anymore. It’s nothing. I’ve become nothing along with it. I believe I’ve gone under, disappeared for good this time. I’m alone, and the dark grows darker and I’m exhausted beyond words from the fight, and just as my breath is giving out, I close my eyes and let the nightmare take me. Then, with all hope lost that this dream will ever end, I finally drift off to sleep.
Finally asleep at 1:30,
awakening again around 4:00,
and here I’d hoped
I’d see this affliction no more.
The thoughts that prod me
and keep me from sleep
have changed over the years
yet still tend to seep
out from my heart
and into my mind,
even though I recognize
them now as all of a kind
of confusion, delusion
and hope I can’t reach
from this place on my back
where even experience didn’t teach
me to leaven with sensibility
the gut feelings of sense.
Which is why, after four hours,
I awaken, staggering but intense,
fighting my way through the fog
that comes with this deprivation.
And yet, once again by day’s end,
I’ll lie here in resignation
that I can’t control the world,
you, your future or the past.
Maybe that’s why I toss until
I drop into darkness at last.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give
to nod off by eleven,
awaken around seven,
and worry less about you,
and the sadness you live through.
I’d lay my head on the pillow,
where soon sweet dreams would billow.
In peace, eleven to seven,
knowing that you
are sleeping peacefully, too.
Yeah, that would be heaven.