the rest of sleep

by strannikov

no business of poets


discourse seeps from mouths to ears

sinking dark into our ears

to fill our mouths with stinking gas—


discourse loud from cities blasts

wholesome blather flies across all skies

leveling forests mountains all by-passed.


cities prescribe our conditions aloud

sweet tunes measured to how we'll feel

tomorrow—tomorrows sing what we knew.


(cities tell us: each other do not see.

 cities teach us: each other do not hear.)


ubiquities of cityspeak

trammel all rural discourse

(their ignorance of us compounded):


for rural discourse no patience no care,

long as discourse management remains theirs

(no business of poets: it is not we).


my vocation as a madman late


my vocation of madman I test late

(test misapplications of logics late):

I escaped to wander in wordswamps lost.


equipped for a life never to be lived

all I now need for my narrow grave.


—and here I halt to test whether I see:

here words grow bright in clumps of grass—alone

in sand stands wild neglected Johnson grass.


this vivid virid life!—there curdled blooms

brittle to touch and glance granular rust

alighting on fields and pastures of dreams

and memories the possessions of ghosts.



hammers astray


our metallurgists must bring force to bear

our forges need more hours stoked hot red:

almost late to learn our hammers went astray!


hammer evaporation must be checked:

quantum diffusion we cannot blame,

did all our plugged-in hammers melt so soon?


(they could have overheated, couldn't they?)

could batteries have melted them to slime?

(self-activating hammers might hold flaws.)


look, here's a hammer not ninety years old—

where's the power source for it? where's the plug?



the rest of sleep


peripheral dreams fall out from the head

the body squirms then burrows abed:

“have you had a good life? you now have less!

—led a hard life instead? you soon will be gone!”


the donkeys moo the horses low in tune—

hard to hear cows neigh when bulls bray aloud:

“if” is no life and has not happened once

“as if” is no better, as if sheets sleep.


solitaire women lonely dogs they keep

on walks kept short by raging winds and sleet:

“you must now give account, Mr. Bo-Peep,

for just why your wife is losing her sheep!”


todays spin in bliss tomorrows churn fire

—and ever after they happily lived:

fun and miserable life all have shared

atop the same bed beneath snoring sheets.


they sound much better when you can't hear them

the screaming kindergarteners afraid—

loud as a spider parading in shade

as welcome as eggshells crushed in your shorts.


summon with brass winds! assemble platoons!

the consolations ofscience . . . drip . . . slow:

one hundred years of blessings and of woes—

one century down, another to go.


tales fit for times fables for a stuck age

hear now the tunes to play for dire events

transpiring without consequence or change

though life takes us all though death takes us all


then let our hungers take us to our ends:

I am hungry until, in sleep, I eat.