Two Dark Poems by David Galef: “Insomnia, Take 7” and “Precipitation”

Insomnia, Take 7
In the final corners of the night
Lie the crumb-starved remnants of sleep.
Your mind lies elsewhere, picking at wounds
That once were only skin-deep.

Along the narrow tracks of the bed
Run three paths out of the room,
Two of them ending only in dread,
The other, the crack of doom.

The uneven plaster slapped on the wall
Betrays a zig-zag plot
That inches toward infinity
Like a never-boiling pot.

Your awkward writhings under the sheet
Enact a suppressed demonstration
Against some horribly unfair law
That crucifies you to your station.

The light from the hallway beckons
Like a baleful reminder of God
Transformed to a crab-faced clown
Who’ll never so much as nod.

Ten statues of inability
Crouch in disfigured stone,
Rehearsing all your failures
Until you’re entirely alone.

Did you leave the gas on, gas on, gas on?
Your conscience asks with a stammer.
In just a few stunted hours,
The day will return with a hammer.

A handful of pills that flood the system;
The countdown begins at two.
The only stranger in the bed
Is no one else but you.
After the rain, the puddles recede,
Minor mutinies that flow
From the emptied plaza to
The narrow, draining streets below,
Pooling all their capital
Into a bank of mud
That hasn’t seen so much as a trickle
Of oil, sweat, or blood.
Since the time of the abattoir,
The gutter holds its own supply.
Even the air feels lighter,
Free of the lowering sky
Like a skittering horse without reins
Or a turbulent waterway
Purged of the urge to drown
Whoever escapes the fray,
Until the oncoming reign,
Hazy but looming huge,
Building toward another flood.
Après moi, le deluge.

David Galef has published over 200 poems in places ranging from The Yale Review and The Gettysburg Review to Witness and Measure, as well as two poetry books, Flaws and Kanji Poems, and two chapbooks, Lists and Apocalypses. Day job: professor of English and creative writing program director at Montclair State University; also editor of Vestal Review, the longest-running flash fiction magazine on the planet., @dgalef.

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