There is no such thing as sleep,
for ponder what gears and images
vault and run us ragged when, at last,
we weave one day of dalliance
with a night of rest. Sloth is a phantom
accusation, says the unhatched chick.
I am not here to merely grow
until a clock of matter says it’s time
to venture forth, nervously, attentively.
Were I the furred and lapping kind,
I’d be within my mother still,
discerning amid the churns
of her meals and heart the rumors
of her dreams. I know, because all living
knows what it has been denied,
that some refusal inherent to her kind
has made her leave me here, nestled
in hays, warmed by a bulb
the patient master set just right
above my world. He too is not
the slave of indolence—too busy
to watch as my time approaches
and I will crack and enter into uses
I would rather dissipate.
What talents, then, will I offer
to myself alone, given I am scripted
ready for a tedious chore? Hurry,
then, to conjure ventricles in shells,
race down avenues that circle the horizon
of this brittle fist. O do not delay,
sleeper, for none are waiting
to hear your record of the stay.
A serpent, maybe, might mercifully
dislodge its jaws and host me down
in purity, in patience still. Or a fox
will leap from the opera I have dreamt
and think me more than just a meal,
a trophy yet, a victory. For it will have
to slip through wire and gun
to feed his urgencies and speed off,
a blur of blood, eyes lit, and tongue clean.



Ricardo Pau-Llosa has published eight books of poetry, including The Turning from Carnegie Mellon University Press. His recent or forthcoming work also appears in American Journal of Poetry, American Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Dalhousie Review, Hollins Critic, Hudson Review, New England Review, PN Review, Poetry, Southern Review, and other magazines.

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