WHEN I SLEEP, by Llewellyn McKernan

When I sleep

on my side, the whole world

turns. When I sleep on my belly

I’m earth,

gathering ferns. When I sleep

on my back, I curl up my toes.

I dream my own dreams.

I breathe through my nose.

I love

the little ghost that comes

when I’m cold

and builds a red fire that


to gold

all that is wooden, little

by little,

while I walk around

playing the fiddle.

When Midnight comes,

it’s saintly as the dog

wading in the stream

of the Very Odd. (If you

model in clay, take it from

this brook. On its bank a tree grew

that now lives in a book–

the pages its weather

come home

to roost, letters budding

and branching

from a single shoot.)

And when I can’t sleep

for a year or two,

I mend all my fences

get rid of my suits,

I walk

with the prayer that shapes

what’s real. This cures

my insomnia

and pays my bills.

I put Werewolf to bed,

and the Vampire, too. Steam open

forever what’s

always been glued.


at the moment

I turn out the light,

Big Shot and Big Bucks

come by for a bite.

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