Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Poem About Monsters And Insomnia

I’m not making this up

Since you’ve been gone nothing’s worked right.
I can’t get to sleep. I try to, as I lie there,
I rummage around in my head for sheep to count,
for a pasture and a fence for them to jump over.
But the best I can do is dogs –
short dogs with heavy coats.
One comes to the fence, and he can’t jump it what
with his stumpy little legs.
Then another and he can’t either, and
pretty soon there are dozens of dogs
milling around on one side of the fence.
I can hear them yipping at each other.
I stay up all night.

Even the bad dreams aren’t working.
I go down to the kitchen for warm milk, but
the monsters in the basement had a fight,
and the Old Man from Under the Stairs is
at the table sulking with his damn pack of cards.
From the cellar I hear the Big Bad Wolf snore.
The cow is stuck somewhere in the sky,
and the dish has locked herself in the bathroom,
refusing to talk to the spoon,
mad about some hourglass egg timer
she’d supposedly seen him with.

The clocks have stopped, the refrigerator turns itself on and off,
and I sit here wondering about all
the stories that have come undone
or reversed themselves:
The Gospel backwards,
an account of a town
saving some young man
from certain death,
only to find out the whole world is going to hell as a result
until it’s brought back to a state of innocence by a young couple
sharing a piece of fruit, kissing it whole.
The Big Bang, now an explanation
of how, in the end,
everything will squeeze together,
and snuff out.
Every funeral you’ve ever seen,
a memory of your family digging up some guy who jumps out of a box,
getting younger and better looking,
like the cake lady at a bachelor party.

The stars drift toward the center,
and the cow stomps around a moon sinking back into the sky,
while I watch the old man put a spade
on a heart.
As the clouds suck rain off the streets,
wind sets leaves back onto their trees,
and the one story I want to reverse is you leaving,
but that stays straight in my head no matter how dizzy I get
or how hard I try to remember it differently.

On this dark and stormy night
it is the one thing so bright,
staring at it for too long
leaves an afterimage when you turn away,
and I see you, in that shade of violet-blue
every time I close my eyes.

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