NIGHT MODE - BUY ME SLEEP
I’ve unlearned how to sleep, and somehow
I’ve rectangled the ocean. The problem is,
some shapes are not meant to be rebound.
I’ve tripled and trembled, become a wreck
that makes sense. Two paychecks a week,
no receipts: eighty, ninety hours. It doesn’t
take a stretch on the air mattress
to get enough brain-swag back to work out
even in my wax-blocked head
that money only equals time if time keeps
the lights on, the car spuming fog,
and enough plants to vent the dim house.
I nap away sunlight. Then I ply myself to aggressive
breathing. It only makes the night brighter,
which is only part of what I want. The half-light
of dawn bothers me because the sky is lit
from beneath, which is only right
to those who must see possibilities.
I don’t look that way much. Before I go
to the bank each Saturday, though –
before it closes at noon and before
I get any sleep at all – I look at each dollar
bill, each coin, until all the repetitive words
and Masonic symbols at last start to resemble
new words and things I have never hoped for.
Six men in black suits and silk ties stand
around the pedestal of the new statue
panting in the heat, saying, “The matter is what cain
and cain’t be helped.” All the sunshine
in Florida will be a burden to the statue
if it stays in the condition it’s in,
they agree, and seeing as it’s a losing season
and the stadium (which looms behind them
but blocks out none of the heat of day)
cost a hundred million dollars to renovate,
something will have to be done.
They half-raise their hands in a vote.
The statue depicts a fanciful member
of the Seminole tribe rearing a horse
and raising a spear above his head (the spearhead
can even be lit on game days – a technical
fantasy that had excited the six men
when the sculptor mentioned it, though
none of them remembered why exactly
the sculptor thought it would be a good idea
artistically speaking). None of them
mention now how much the statue had cost.
It’s not important, since pride makes time
pass in more good ways than bad.
There’s a problem, which the aforementioned
vote has resolved – at additional cost –
to fix, is small. The horse’s testicles
aren’t big enough. In matters like this
the men are very serious,
though they laugh and are happy
with most happenings in the world.
It is a cost the university can afford,
they reason, in light of all the tickets
that will be sold in the end. So that day
by sundown the statue is hauled off,
leaving the pedestal, engraved “UNCONQUERED.”
Summer Greer grew up in Bangkok, Thailand and Tallahassee, FL. He came to poetry through jazz and common sense. He holds an MFA in poetry from Johns Hopkins and lives in Baltimore, where he enjoys eating both crab cakes and lake trout.