Sleep Monster Growls Beneath the Mattress

And you, my monster, please don’t disappear

Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
  • Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

I Go to School in America

  • At 5 AM I stir from sleep.
  • go to school in America.
  • Deep bruise sky lightens into cool
  • streaks of purple, gray. Rooster
  • calls the sun to the horizon;
  • his song pours promise onto
  • streets brittle with consequences.
  • Morning, gauzy with ideals.
  • Just try to reconcile the wide
  • discrepancies between dreams and
  • unrelenting rhythms of work.
  • In my school, we are not taught to
  • finger our happiness, but to
  • whisper the stories of power.
  • Leaves of newspaper descend from
  • crevice of sky; unrelenting 
  • rain plants ideals of power
  • in our minds but still leaves us parched.
  • In school I read about monsters.
  • When I become one, I will not
  • wonder at the bruised possible.

Sleep Monster Growls Beneath the Mattress

  • Please don’t imagine me in this crummy
  • room, waking late Sunday morning, eyelids
  • crusted with dreams. Pain in my teeth. I’ve missed
  • church. Smell of smoke on the hot wind. Busted
  • radio whines in my brain. Stale donuts
  • on a plate, cigarettes stubbed out in white
  • sprinkles. I’m in the bed of my childhood —
  • sheets thin, ceiling wisped with grime, listening
  • to barely remembered laughter somewhere.
  • I wish I could forget the joke, but time
  • is a permanent blister, a first clue
  • to the devolution we turn blind to.
  • And you, my monster, please don’t disappear.
  • Be like the one-eyed cat marching along
  • my skin, cooling my sickness, remaining
  • with me even after rain scars the ground.

365 Midnights

  • At night I like to stomp around
  • the deserted golf course like a
  • dinosaur in red heels, alone
  • but fearful of nothing. The moon,
  • bloated with fog, doesn’t feel so
  • unknown, feels like an ancestor
  • set sail to another country.
  • At the harbor, I wear black stockings.
  • Sky gray with the heavy music
  • of petroleum. Stars love in
  • a language I’ve forgotten.
  • I’m cautious to listen, don’t
  • want to find out all the secrets
  • since the spaceships blasted their night.
  • In the red morning, voices of
  • bees in shade make a harmonic
  • pudding I lick from the pavement.
  • My bones cannot wait for night’s turn,
  • for a sliver of holiday
  • to come to the city, starved for
  • beauty, feeding on the last home.

Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, including Embers, a novel in poems, and Insurgent Muse: Art and Life at the Woman’s Building, a memoir. A new poetry collection, Ruin Porn, will be published at the end of 2017. She is the founder of Writers at Work, a creative-writing studio in Los Angeles, and affiliate faculty in the MFA writing program at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is also an instructor of Kundalini yoga and meditation.

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