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. www.davidgalef.com, @dgalef.