America by Zoe Strauss 1-2

I’m kind of in love with photographer Zoe Strauss’s work. I’m gonna try to do a series of poems based on the pictures in her book America. It’ll be similar to the Daniel Richter series I did a while ago–ekphrasis is really cool as an alternative to the essay I think.

 

 

America by Zoe Strauss—Vanessa

First let me start out by saying this
and I don’t say this often enough to you
but listen this time because I can’t repeat
this for you no matter how much you
beg me to.

(I know you don’t like it when I smoke
but fuck you, you know?)

Last weekend was terrible but
it’s always good to know that
you will always be there for me
like that, like when you picked me
up from that party where I was fearing
for my life, yet again. It’s always something
isn’t it.

No, it’s not that I love you or anything
like that at all, or anything.

 

 

America by Zoe Strauss—Twin Beds on Cantrell St.

When I got here it was hot here
And it’s hot now too but less so
With the beds pushed apart
And your sweaty bread body
Turning away like that from me.

Maybe it’s the light? It’s hurting
your eyes? Maybe it’s the way I
had really lightly (I thought) and
casually suggested that maybe
we could do that again.

You didn’t like that, I thought,
since I think your eyes welled
up and you sobbed almost and
I remember thinking, man, this
girl is really unhappy about this.

But the room cost me fifty bucks
and we can’t just leave without
coming to some kind of grasping
of why it’s okay for me to do
what I intend to keep on doing.

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Our Town Part 2

Our Town Part 1

Fast and Bulbous

Haha I guess I’m just gonna throw some papers on here. I wrote this in March of 2009.

 

Fast and Bulbous: The Baroque Genius of Captain Beefheart

There is a mustachioed man in a Californian desert who paints the shadow of a crow flying over sand. He learned to whistle at the age of two and at three he read about the extinct auk and got so upset over the passing of the passenger pigeon that he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself into the La Brea Tar Pits but was saved by his devoted mother. As a teenager he locked himself up in his Mojave Desert bedroom and went a year and a half without sleep. This man is named Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart. His masterpiece double-album Trout Mask Replica has as much to do with rock and blues as it has to do with sculpture and the body. Although his Magic Band was comprised of exceptionally talented and patient musicians who translated Vliet’s impossible mindscapes into music, the album’s incredibly exciting and unfamiliar sound has only Vliet and his laissez-faire producer Frank Zappa to thank. The album as a maximalist piece of work at once breaks with the landmarks of the 60s counterculture and yet remains one of the most unique and representative creations of that American era.

The details of Vliet’s real life are elastic and inflatable. He earnestly propagates lies of mythic proportions about himself in interviews, whereupon hapless journalists feel ill at ease to omit them from articles. In one severely tangent-ridden interview for New York Rocker magazine, Vliet claimed of his great distaste for urban life: “I break out in a horrible rash if I use a telephone in the city. I can’t stand it. I think it’s fascist. Very fascist odor on a telephone receiver” (Cantz 133). Vliet creates a fabulist image of himself through his own self-descriptions yet he greatly resents being categorized as a “weirdo”. This kind of self-inflicted contradiction and Dada-inflected language characterizes the brilliant manic man who would retire from the music business in 1982 to devote his life to painting. There are, however, some salvageable facts of his life that are confirmed by various sources. They are as follows:

 

  1. Vliet can imitate the voices of great blues singers down to the most essential gritty growl. In Trout Mask Replica, his voice most notably resembles that of the great Mississippi blues-man Howlin’ Wolf. Vliet attended a concert by Hubert Sumlin, the deceased old Wolf’s guitar player. “While Sumlin was sitting with his guitar across his knees to tune it up, Beefheart crept up behind him and addressed him in the voice of the dreaded Wolf. Sumlin jumped several feet in the air and begged Beefheart in a trembling voice never to do such a thing again” (17).

     

  2. Sometime before he was eighteen, Vliet appeared on a television show alongside the Portugese sculptor Augustonia Rodriguez, showcasing his talent at fashioning animals out of soap. He consequently won a six-year art scholarship that would have taken him to Europe had his parents not forbid him to go, saying that all artists were “poofs” (queers). (18).

     

  3. Vliet was born Don Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941 in Glendale, California. Although he did not attend much of his Lancaster, California high school, it was there that he met Frank Zappa. The two men go on to have a tumultuous friendship as well as a professional and creative relationship that yields some of Vliet’s best work.

     

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band’s first album Safe as Milk was released by Buddah records in 1967. The Magic Band’s ever rotating roster features Ry Cooder on the lead and slide guitar in the R&B and soul-inflected album (Beefheart.com). John French, Alex St. Claire, and Jerry Handley were also featured. The twangy guitar sounds like general sixties rock—the Rolling Stones in particular. Vliet’s voice comes off rich and soulful like a back-country road but the lyrics are quite accessible, sometimes approaching psychedelia in songs like “Yellow Brick Road” and “Electricity”. Beefheart and the band amp up the psychedelic mood for their next album, Strictly Personal released in 1968 by Blue Thumb Records. Jeff Cotton replaces Cooder on the guitar for this realease. The instrumentation features more post-production effects and Vliet’s voice moves toward the warbling weirdness it eventually reaches in Trout Mask Replica. After Safe as Milk and Strictly Personal, Vliet “sensed that R&B had been done to perfection by his black predecessors” (Chusid 134) and thus decided to create the music that he always heard in his head, no holds barred. Although his first two albums are solid pop albums with slight hints of experimentalism, they are not in any way indicative of the newness that is to follow.

Vliet’s eccentricity did not make him an easy artist to work with and consequently left him and his producers at odds, both promotionally and more importantly, creatively. They marketed him to the basement groovies and mixed his music in the general 60s “rock style”. Even Zappa realized Vliet’s commercial dilemma. He once said, “I think Don is fantastic, but he’s unmarketable” (132). Despite profit concerns, Zappa invited Vliet to make a record on his Warner Bros. distributed label Straight. He stressed that Vliet would have complete creative control over the music and mixing. Vliet accepted, and Trout Mask Replica was born, an album that Rolling Stone critic Langdon Winner claimed to be “the most astounding and most important work of art ever to appear on a phonograph record”.

While America was going through the violent growing pains of the year1968, Vliet sequestered a group of inexperienced yet talented young musicians in a cottage for almost a year to practice for the recording of his most honest album. Vliet crowned his band members with names befitting musico-anatomical superheroes. John French became “Drumbo”, Jeff Cotton was “Antennae Jimmy Semens” ,  Bill Harkleroad was “Zoot Horn Rollo”, Mark Boston rhymed with “Rockette Morton”, and Victor Hayden became “The Mascara Snake”. The musicians would later tell stories of Vliet’s appalling cruelty and megalomania. He enforced food and sleep deprivation and researched methods of brainwashing. In response to these accusations, Vliet simply stated, “People don’t like to be used as paint. If they’re going to be used by me, that is the only way they’re going to be used” (136). This is perhaps the most accurate description of Vliet’s directorial style as a self-taught musician who never learned how to read or write music. Asserting that he and his band communicated through “telepathy”, Vliet conveyed the musical topography of his mind through such non-orthodox methods as scatting, drawing, and charades. It was like inviting a Dada poet to direct the construction of a building. Fortunately, his musicians had the chops to execute his vision and Zappa had the restraint to allow Vliet’s vision to be produced unhindered by commercial worries. As inactive as Zappa’s role may appear to be, it is his lack of tampering that allowed Vliet’s vision to be manifested in all its innovative glory.

Although Trout Mask Replica sounds at times like an impromptu pastiche of haphazard noise, it is in fact “highly structured, carefully arranged, and long in rehearsal” (135). Attendees of Captain Beefheart concerts attest to the minute exactitude of the live renditions. As usual, the exception to that description is Vliet himself, who refused to listen to the instrumental playback while recording his vocal tracks. As a result, the vocals have a skipped-beat, spoken word quality that isn’t necessarily glaring due to the fact that the album sounds like each musician recorded his own part in the privacy of his own cave. This description is not as hyperbolic as it may seem. Vliet recorded his vocals for the track “The Blimp” from a telephone mouthpiece and he sang “China Pig” from behind a closed door with the microphone on the other side (Cantz 18). He is able to not only get away with such blatant experimentation but indeed benefit from it due to his best asset: a robust singing voice that spans anywhere from four-and-a-half to seven octaves. His voice reaches such vertiginous heights in “Pena” that it is nearly unrecognizable as the low growling voice of “Pachuco Cadaver”. In the interview with New York Rocker, Vliet claims to not have any influences at all: “I haven’t any idols and what I do is what I do. Anything else…doesn’t work” (134). But his singing style is instantly recognizable as being born from the Delta blues (as opposed to the Chicago blues, as was the cased for most white bluesmen at the time) from artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. The spontaneity of the compositions can also be likened to free jazz artists like Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor (134). But don’t tell Vliet that.

Vliet wrote all of Trout Mask Replica’s twenty-eight songs in one eight and a half hour period. When jokingly asked why it took him so long, Vliet answered: “Well, I’d never played the piano before and I had to figure out the fingering” (Winner). Indeed, Vliet does not play any instruments at all except his powerful voice and a crazy lurid pen. The lyrics on the album cannot be summed up in a neat categorical bow. One type is like romantic pastoral folk ballads on magic mushrooms. Another type is free-associative grotesqueries that bring to mind paintings by Salvador Dali or Francis Bacon. Vliet’s vast distaste for urban life shows up in songs like “Frownland” where he sings, “I cannot go back to your Frownland / My spirit’s made up of the ocean/ And the sky ‘n’ the sun ‘n’ the moon”. The more surrealist images come from songs like “Neon Meate Dream of A Octafish” with amazing verbiage like “Fack ‘n feast ‘n tubes tubs bulbs/ In jest incest ingest injust in feast incest/
’n specks ‘n speckled speckled/
Speckled speculation”. “Dachau Blues” is as close as the album comes to social activism, with the eerie warning, “The world can’t forget that misery/
’n the young ones now beggin’ the old ones please/
t’ stop bein’ madmen/
’fore they have t’ tell their children/
’bout the burnin’s back in World War Three’s”. Conversely, the song “Orange Claw Hammer” is a straightforward folk song sung, or rather recited, a capella and pulled off as well as any old coot sitting on his Mississippi front porch. The wonderful variety of lyrics and singing styles demonstrates the breadth of Vliet’s songwriting prowess.

The difficulty of constraining Trout Mask Replica into one musical genre is understandable due to its maximalist nature. Both Zappa and Vliet’s work are said to fall under the largely unexplored category of maximalism. Composer David Jaffe defines maximalist music as “ [embracing] heterogeneity and [allowing] for complex systems of juxtapositions and collisions, in which all outside influences are viewed as potential raw material” (Armand 129). Zappa’s music has been “accused of being far too noisy and of containing too many notes” (126). These accusations can be, no doubt, extended to his friend as well, prompting the comparison between their music and intricate baroque sculpture, which emphasizes volume and asymmetry. Vliet in particular admits to a three-dimensional approach to making music, claiming in fact to not like music at all: “Music gets in the way…I’m a sculptor” (Cantz 136). He does not use a musical instrument to make the sounds it is intended to make. For example, nearly the entire rhythm section of the album is comprised not of the drums or bass, but of the stop-go strumming of the electric guitar. This synesthetic approach is often experienced as a barrage of the senses—an initial feeling of being sensually overwhelmed. However, upon closer inspection, the linguistic folds of one of the most bizarre songs on the album, “Pena”, begin to resemble the marble folds of Bernini’s classical baroque masterpiece, “Ecstasy of St. Theresa”. The evocation of different textures like velvet, crystals, and felt give the song a tactile richness that is echoed in the gorgeous golden rays and swirls of fabric in the sculpture. The monstrousness of religious ecstasy can be found within the lyrics, “Soft like butter hard not to pour/
Out enjoying the sun while sitting on a turned on waffle iron/
Smoke billowing up from between her legs/
Made me vomit beautifully”. Vliet’s preoccupation with pain and the body are further indications of his place in the maximalist tradition.

The song “Old Fart at Play” describes the trout mask replica that becomes the title image of the album. In the song, an old man puts on an anthropomorphic wooden fish head that becomes part of his body. His wife’s body parts (the nose, the eyelashes, the legs) are described as a host of different animals like a cat, a rooster, a duck, and a goose. The various appendages of the body turn into nature via grotesque transformations. The functioning aspects of the body like breathing, smelling, and the sensation of pain lose their real-world connotations and become magic tricks performed by strange objects. The connection between the body, nature, and absurdity have always existed in romantic literature, notably in Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Nose” where a man wakes up to find his nose missing and later finds it parading around town in the guise of an inspector. Likewise, the protrusions of the body in Vliet’s lyrics are “not separated from the world by clearly defined boundaries; it is blended with the world, with animals, with objects” (Armand 135).  This transformative aspect of the body is constant with maximalism’s fixation with strange juxtapositions and textures.

By sheer virtue of its innovation and weirdness, Trout Mask Replica gained massive critical acclaim and became something of a cult classic. Nevertheless, Vliet had many problems with the way Zappa was pushing the record, believing himself to have become “the token weirdo artist on Warner Bros., signed just to prove how sophisticated the label was” (Chusid 132). Few critics felt that the album did not live up to its hype. The (fantastically named!) journalist Peter Keepnews wrote that, “like many double albums, it probably has a single album’s worth of really prime stuff, surrounded by filler and a few tracks that sound like he’s trying too hard to be weird” (137). One critic later noted the near-complete absence of women at Beefheart’s shows, saying that the lack of a regular rhythm eliminated any potential sex appeal from the music. Despite the erroneous assumption that women are primarily interested in sexy music, the discrepancy is still rather strange. An online discussion of Beefheart’s work yielded 101 male respondents to a mere three female (133). Despite, or perhaps because of, its limited audience and record sales, Trout Mask Replica places number 58 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

Vliet’s next album, Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1970) is often filed alongside Trout Mask Replica as some of his best work. It was produced by Zappa again and featured a somewhat more polished style, with the introduction of a horns section that continues onto his later albums. The album climbed to the number 20 spot on the UK charts and remains Vliet’s most commercially successful project. Significantly, he also changed the name of the band from His Magic Band to The Magic Band, conceding some semblance of humanity and autonomy to his band members. The following four albums—The Spotlight Kid (1972), Clear Spot (1972), Unconditionally Guaranteed (1974), and Bluejeans and Moonbeams (1974)—were all released under Mercury Records. Most of The Magic Band members had left by then, leaving him to play with “a group of competent but uninspired hacks” (138). The albums made a move toward commercial and financial viability but instead alienated the fiercely devoted fanbase that raised Captain Beefheart to his legendary pedestal in the first place.

Realizing the creative dead-end he was in, Vliet went on tour with Zappa (despite frequent public feuds) and released their studio sessions together as Bongo Fury (1975). Vliet spent the next two years writing material for his comeback album Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (1978), put out by Warner Bros. The album featured a much more harmonic and tropical vibe than any of his previous work. His last two albums, Doc At The Radar Station (1980), and Ice Cream for Crow (1982) were put out by Virgin Records and signaled his departure from the music world. He moved to the Mojave Desert with his wife Jan and continued his painting career, which was bringing in more cash than his records anyway. His paranoid and somewhat schizoid personality was better suited to painting than working with musicians. “The paint doesn’t say anything,” he said in a 1993 interview. “It just allows me to make mistakes” (140).

Many would argue that Trout Mask Replica as an album has very little to do with the pop music of the 1960s, and they are right in many ways. It discards the common 4/4 time signature found in Western rock and uses its own ever-shifting versions of rhythm. Vliet did not just make an album, but created a new way of understanding music that employs vision and touch just as much as hearing. As new as the album was, it could not have been born in any time and space other than the United States in the 1960s. A history of blues, jazz, and R&B contributed to Vliet’s striking vocals, but most importantly, an environment of artistic freedom and social change was fertile ground for the birth of one of the strangest albums in American rock music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Armand, Louis. Contemporary Poetics. Northwestern University Press. Illinois, 2007.

Cantz, Verlag Ostfildern. Stand Up to be Discontinued. Germany, 1993.Winner, Chusid, Irwin. Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music. A Capella Books.

Chicago, 2000.

Langdon. “The Odyssey of Captain Beefheart.” The Captain Beefheart Radar Station.

[http://www.beefheart.com/datharp/odyssey.htm].

 

 

Dark Side of the Moon

I wrote this paper for bio and thought I’d put it up. Sorry about the formatting, as always. Don’t know why the works cited part freaks out like that :/

 

Dark Side of the Moon: Depression as an Adaptation

Biologists have long puzzled over the pervasiveness of mood disorders. Conditions like depression have dire, often lethal, consequences. Why would evolution conserve the depressive tendency in such large proportions of the population when it has the potential to kill the afflicted individual? Evidence suggests that depression is not a straightforward pathology but instead an adaptive trait that has become maladaptive in the modern world. Numerous hypotheses in the field of evolutionary psychology attempt to explain how a condition with such high fitness costs could be considered adaptive. Two leading ideas include the analytical rumination hypothesis, which describes depression as a problem-solving mechanism, and the honest signaling hypothesis, which paints depression as a bargaining signal for help from social allies. Both of these hypotheses look at depression as a phenomenon following a traumatic life event and do not adequately explain severe depressive episodes that have seemingly no underlying trigger.

Certain aspects of depression suggest that it may at one time have been an adaptive trait. In the United States, an estimated 17% of people have suffered a major depressive episode in their lifetime (Andrade). As a comparison, less than 1% of the population suffers from schizophrenia, another common mental illness. Moreover, unlike most illnesses that increase in occurrence as people age, depression can occur throughout a person’s lifetime, peaking during the ages of 20 to 30 years. Lastly, depression seems to have a strong heritable component. All of these aspects suggest that depression is not a dysfunctional pathology but instead an adaptation that may have provided an important benefit for our ancestors.

Outside of the clinical context, the concepts of depression and sadness often become conflated. Sadness is simply one aspect of major depression, which includes other symptoms such as low self-esteem and loss of pleasure in former interests (anhedonia). Primitive emotions such as anxiety and anger serve a purpose for the individual experiencing them. Anxiety alerts the individual to a dangerous element and prompts the fight-or-flight response whereas anger prompts the aggression necessary to drive away an attacker. Evolutionary psychologists predict that sadness serves a similarly helpful function. What that function is, however, is more difficult to determine.

One clue lies in the analytical rumination hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that depression is an adaptation developed in order to work through complex problems via obsessive rumination. Due to the prevalence of depression within all cultures and age groups, proponents of this hypothesis suggest that depression is not a pathology at all but a normal psychological function (Thomson). That is, clinical levels of depression do not indicate a disorder but a normal response to stress. It may be useful to compare the depressive response to a fever: fever is a costly and potentially lethal bodily function, but its role in ridding the body of noxious contaminants is worth the expenditure. Thus, it is not categorized as a dysfunction. Similarly, depression keeps an individual isolated and unable to partake in important activities such as sex or child rearing which can have significant effects on fitness. It forces the individual to invest the vast majority of her energy ruminating on a specific problem. The analytical rumination hypothesis proposes that the insights gained from the rumination make up for the socially alienating and painful aspects of depression.

Individuals suffering from depression do not become excellent problem solvers overnight. There are three proposed aspects of depression that promote analytical problem solving: first, the events that trigger depression tend to be complex problems that affect fitness-related goals. Complex problem-solving requires a different mode of thinking–each component of the problem must be first broken down individually, then reintegrated.

Second, the depressive state creates neurological changes that focus the brain on breaking down a complex problem into simpler parts. Research shows that when non-depressed individuals attempt to solve a complex problem, their depressive affect increases during rumination (Andrews). This aspect of rumination can actually appear to impair cognition as it prevents depressed individual from focusing on anything other than their original problem. Depression is an enormous mental resource-suck and this may be the reason why depressed individuals consistently display impaired memory and attention in lab tests (Goodwin). However, a battery of cognitive tests in a lab setting is unlikely to be the kind of complex problem that depression was meant to solve.

Third, over the course of evolutionary time, depression helps people solve the problem that triggered the depressive episode. Proponents of the analytical rumination hypothesis point to the failure of anti-depressants to create long term change as evidence. Many therapists find that while anti-depressants alleviate psychic pain, patients relapse once they are taken off medication if the underlying initial problem is not solved. Conversely, for many patients an episode of major depression terminates once the triggering event has come to a conclusion.

If depression is not meant for solving lab tests, then what types of problems is it meant for? The honest signaling hypothesis models the syndrome as a social bargaining tool employed by individuals who need to re-negotiate some aspect of the social contract. Individual human fitness relies a great degree on complex social interactions. As mentioned above, the emotion of anger can propel an individual to demonstrate aggression in a situation where she feels threatened. However, if an individual is up against a much larger individual or a group of individuals, then aggression may not be the best tactic (Hagen 96). In this case, she must signal to others in her social group that she needs help. The ill health of a depressed individual affects not only her own fitness but also that of her offspring, mate, and kin. Thus, they have a vested interest in coming to her aid. Women are twice as likely to experience major depression as are men, and when social role variables are controlled for, 50 percent more likely. Since women tend to be less physically strong, this provides support for the idea that depression is an alternative to physical aggression.

The difference between honest and dishonest signaling may shed light on depression’s high costs on fitness. An honest signal requires costly resources because it needs to be difficult to mimic. If it were simple to mimic, others would employ it dishonestly in order to take advantage of its benefits and the meaning of the signal would become diluted. The complete withdrawal of the depressed person from her environment signals the direness of her situation to her social allies and compels them to action. This tactic can be compared to that of worker’s strike, where a worker cuts off her stream of income in order to bring about a necessary change (100). Thus, depression is manifested when a problem begins to affect fitness so much so that the costs associated with displaying depression are lower than the cost of not getting help.

Depression’s effectiveness as an adaptation is debatable. Between 3 to 5 percent of depressed individuals commit suicide, and up to 60 percent of those who commit suicide suffered from depression or other related mental illnesses. Suicide attempts themselves can be seen as signaling the seriousness of the depressive episode and usually occur after a protracted period of suicidal ideation (113). However, it is possible that depression led to successful outcomes in the ancient environment in which it evolved. Social conditions have changed drastically in a short period of time, and like the human craving for sugar, depression’s once-adaptive quality has taken a turn for the maladaptive. Additionally, the two discussed theories do not sufficiently address those bouts of depression that descend upon an individual for seemingly no reason.

The jury is still out on whether depression is indeed an adaptation stuck in the wrong time period (similar to diabetes) or whether it more resembles a feedback loop gone haywire (similar to chronic pain). While the analytical rumination hypothesis and the honest signaling hypothesis provide evidence for the former, the multi-faceted nature of depression makes it difficult to reach a consensus. Evolutionary psychology is an understandably murky field due to the difficulty in evidence-gathering. However, looking at perplexing mental phenomena through an evolutionary lens may help to uncover more effective therapeutic techniques.

Works Cited

Andrade, Laura, et al. “The epidemiology of major depressive episodes: results from the
International Consortium of Psychiatric Epidemiology (ICPE) surveys.” International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research. 12 (1):  3–21. ( 2003).

 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mpr.138/abstract;jsessionid=9BECE4244227C074635F4D687D756E24.d02t03

Andrews, Paul W., et al. “The functional design of depression’s influence on attention: A
preliminary test of alternative control-process mechanisms.” Evolutionary Psychology. 5(3): 584-604. (2007). http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/ep05584604.pdf

Goodwin, G. M. “Neuropsychological and neuroimaging evidence for the involvement of the frontal lobes in depression.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, 11, 115 -122. (1997).

Hagen, Edward H. “The Bargaining Model of Depression.” Genetic and Cultural Evolution of
Cooperation. Ed. Peter Hammerstein. (2003).

Thomson, J. Anderson, et al. “The bright side of being blue: Depression as an adaptation for analyzing complex problems.” Psychological Review. 116(3): 620–654. (2009).

Thesis #

A Story About Nervous Sleep

 

I have dreams sometimes

Of us going furniture shopping

Falling asleep on the beds

In a dimly lit showroom.

The steady hum of people

Like the oscillating fan blowing

Breezes, reassuring our ears,

Quieter than silence,

Us curled like pubic hairs

Into each other, legs

Locked at the ankles,

Hands curved like a heart

At our chests, moving with

Imperceptible motion.

It’d be a marvelous sleep.

 

But reality sets in that would

Never happen.

sleep is rarely so guileless

so willing to be held as a blanket.

Just last night you slept in

A dead sweat, your throat

(that creamy column that

rises like dust in a storm)

tortured and gasping,

I could see your heart

Beating through your skin.

 

Wake up, wake up,

I shook you lightly.

But you slept

in a deathly pallor

and breaths

shallow

slowly

came.