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I Have Discovered Why Old People Do Not Sleep

By Norma Smith

Our dead friends

are trying to rekindle something bright

in our cold extremities. They worm their way

into these still somewhat vital organs

And play us. A restless dirge you might imagine,  

but no, it’s more a two-step.

Insomnia, meet my friend, Anhedonia.

Tearless all these weeks, then suddenly

Deep in the night, after midnight and well before dawn,  I wake, 

weeping. In this liminal time, between sleep and arousal,  tears 

flood my dream of you, at last, and I sit up in bed, soaked

In your memory. Your talented hands, I used to joke,  

were wasted on the keyboard.

Some strange arpeggio emanates

from the honey-colored instrument squatting sullen  

in the other room. Untouched

Your honey-colored dog worries

when I turn on the light. She hums along

for a moment, then takes a few turns and settles,

resumes her snoring.

I am grateful. This is how I relearn the scales: Phrygian, 

 melatonin, melodious. None of these.

In any case, the horizon we never closed our eyes

to sleeps, dies, wakes, continues yes.

trailing-off (Jake photo).jpg

About the Author

Norma Smith is a writer and community scholar-educator living in Oakland, California. Recent work has appeared in POETS READING THE NEWS, THE RACKET, and DISPATCHES FROM QUARANTINE, and is forthcoming in DESPUES DEL AGUACERO, A Pochino Press and Pan Dulce Poets publication (2023). Nomadic Press published Norma’s first book of poems, HOME REMEDY (2017).


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