What the Sleeper Understands

In the news an arm is bare, a car
is full of dirt, a face is in the road
unraveling, the narrow lightning with a tinge of green
is helping it along, and stubborn flowers
come rising from a blue discarded blouse

that one musician goes on still
although the dark is getting skinny now
and now the pupil almost fills the glowing space
pleased and alarmed like a baby alone on a roaring bus
and on the street, a strong pretender walking
and objects from a different time: their awkwardness
is pleasing now, the grime inhabits every crease, for shadow
for justice in the burning room, in delicate September
when there's a pistol in the dirt, aged and mute
in a new contagion of order, a bad addiction to rain
in a close place, in a thin river,
where the flood took all the walls away

stay close and eat your whispers, that was her advice
in the warm dirt, the small things move for pleasure
imaginary odor of a long tall room
a locust singing near the yellow sandwich
the dean examined his trousers unhappily

one warm arm, one blue arm
delighted speech of the bee
the redhaired priest began to shout: wakefulness
the theme, the street does not imagine ways
of refusing the rain or the clear disorder
the moon holds up a glowing hand before its face
the skin reacts to a subtle movement of the wind
or the insidious nature of grace, and
do we understand that way of moving? he said,
does a sleeper understand sleep?

Robert Gregory | Mudlark No. 17
Contents | The History of the World