some nights

you may experience

thought’s diamond

drop           squeezed

from an enraged

zero. strained

& so so

bitterly wrought

some nights

labour, some nights

grieve, some nights

exorcise somnolence

o who                  come middle age

can enjoy their white noise machine

their plastic anti-bruxism mouthpiece

their apnea apparatus           & allow

their subconscious to work

its internalized heresies

its backward dance

its sandpaper erasures that smooth it to sleep

 

as night drips

pandemic & toil

& the schoolchildren

dream of sugar’s

refined fluorescence

speed into tomorrow’s

slapstick

hyped by lucky charms

hallucinate 

locker-lined corridors

that twist into a rich dad

poor dad

pedagogy

 

& their anemic allowance

offers only

a leadership mentality

fueled by squats &

plant-based proteins

by plyometrics

only

feral invective

to arise

& grind – but tonight

 

that rare

ecstatic hour between

the internet’s thirst traps &

the pillow’s

wicked blow

is –

o

who                      

can afford to release

their unrealized life

into a freakish

disambiguating

microtonal cry

Copyright © 2024 by Kaie Kellough. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 10, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

The chiropractor sent me home
     with my left ankle taped, my neck
          cracked, and instructions not to sleep

on my belly, so when it came time
     for bed, I dropped a tequila shot,
          laid back and closed my lids, entrails

exposed to vultures of bad dreams.
     From the neighboring pillow,
          my love whispered theories

of meditation, biofeedback, post-
     traumatic stress, and prayer. When
          she asked, “If a divine creator

made the universe, who made
     the divine creator?” I mumbled,
          “Are you trying to talk me to sleep?”

She smiled, then babbled
     past midnight, contemplating out loud
          the metaphysics of leaf production,

the wonder of molecules
     that make up our bed, the web
          of my cell structure connected

to hers, until I fell asleep,
     imagining the mitochondria
          of words, thinking, if god is

love, let me sleep to this sound of her voice.

From In Praise of Falling by Cheryl Dumesnil. Copyright © 2010 by Cheryl Dumesnil. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.

August in Indiana:
 
a heavy moon hung over space
where there was almost nothing
 
but one big town at dead center.
 
Grasshoppers popped under tires, 
the trees swelled with grackles,
 
and I amused myself with windmills -- 
the solitary geometry of glint and spin,
 
slowing then standing motionless
until the sky raised its dark fist. 
 
 
The autumn my mother left
a coldness opened . . .
 
Beans dried to snakes' tails in the fields,
and my chest filled with rust.
 
 
In the snow I walked the pastures 
 
in an orange poncho 
my father could see from the house.
 
Once I told him to stop waving at me.
 
Once I said maybe I’ll just keep walking.  
 
And once I slid the poncho 
to the near-frozen middle of Moots Pond
 
just to watch him run from the house 
barefoot and wild.

From Ice, Mouth, Song by Rachel Contreni Flynn, published by Tupelo Press. Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Contreni Flynn. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of Tupelo Press.

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.