You must remove your sleepmask, haul it
from your eyes, sleep a white sleep without
slapping floodwaters—let it go,
let its thumbscrews loosen, let it unwind
like bandages (lily-flavored flesh
beneath, pearl-colored the pale
caused by)—lower it: sightseer
in oblivion, all the dumb
joy of death’s languorous leaning
over happy tombstones—send it downstream
on sweet pontoons, give it back
to the blanks, fold it like two soft cleavers—
what once ripped your pillow
like shrapnel flesh—what was sleeping
with coal on your eyelids, what’s worn
threadbare by black wheels in your forehead,
what deepest blue abided by—let it down—
what screeches like icepick to ice,
black and padded: Sleepmask the Teacher,
Sleepmask the Round Sky, Sleepmask
Fracture bearing its elastic
into the back of your head, sleepmask black
as pines doused in starlessness—get rid
of it—yours, your spider’s
and his spare, your wife’s mink one,
your dog’s, the miniatures strung like popcorn,
all of them black like the cinders
of flags, blanker than lies, the low
shiver of dog-spume lies, sleepmask that sends
your eyes twirling like apples
in a ripsaw wind: sleepmask glued,
stapled, painted on, pinned,
licked dean and monogrammed,
sleepmask surgically implanted, sleepmask
congenital, swaddling clothes and bib—
refuse it, remove it—sleepmask an island
over-run with rats and cheese: the formal,
feral, dipped in doom—drop it, tear
it off, lower it like the lid of a coffin
filled with enemy: sleepmask.


Somebody’s Aunt Out Swabbing Her Birdbath

Somebody’s aunt out swabbing her birdbath
with Lysol and the town paper mill down the block
is beginning to blister in a clean shock
of light. You drive away. The math

is grammarschool: X thousand workers,
Y hundred jobs. The shoe factory dosed last year.
Nobody’s starving, but the church is in fear
it’ll lose some paying customers.

A man steps out into his backyard’s yellow air
apart now from his mortgage, his gripes.
He is perfectly lighted by secret animal stripes.
As you drive away a blunt wind parts his hair.