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Sleep Monster Growls Beneath the Mattress

And you, my monster, please don’t disappear

Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

I Go to School in America

  • At 5 AM I stir from sleep.
  • go to school in America.
  • Deep bruise sky lightens into cool
  • streaks of purple, gray. Rooster
  • calls the sun to the horizon;
  • his song pours promise onto
  • streets brittle with consequences.
  •  
  • Morning, gauzy with ideals.
  • Just try to reconcile the wide
  • discrepancies between dreams and
  • unrelenting rhythms of work.
  • In my school, we are not taught to
  • finger our happiness, but to
  • whisper the stories of power.
  • Leaves of newspaper descend from
  • crevice of sky; unrelenting 
  • rain plants ideals of power
  • in our minds but still leaves us parched.
  • In school I read about monsters.
  • When I become one, I will not
  • wonder at the bruised possible.

Sleep Monster Growls Beneath the Mattress

  • Please don’t imagine me in this crummy
  • room, waking late Sunday morning, eyelids
  • crusted with dreams. Pain in my teeth. I’ve missed
  • church. Smell of smoke on the hot wind. Busted
  • radio whines in my brain. Stale donuts
  • on a plate, cigarettes stubbed out in white
  • sprinkles. I’m in the bed of my childhood —
  • sheets thin, ceiling wisped with grime, listening
  • to barely remembered laughter somewhere.
  • I wish I could forget the joke, but time
  • is a permanent blister, a first clue
  • to the devolution we turn blind to.
  • And you, my monster, please don’t disappear.
  • Be like the one-eyed cat marching along
  • my skin, cooling my sickness, remaining
  • with me even after rain scars the ground.

365 Midnights

  • At night I like to stomp around
  • the deserted golf course like a
  • dinosaur in red heels, alone
  • but fearful of nothing. The moon,
  • bloated with fog, doesn’t feel so
  • unknown, feels like an ancestor
  • set sail to another country.
  • At the harbor, I wear black stockings.
  • Sky gray with the heavy music
  • of petroleum. Stars love in
  • a language I’ve forgotten.
  • I’m cautious to listen, don’t
  • want to find out all the secrets
  • since the spaceships blasted their night.
  • In the red morning, voices of
  • bees in shade make a harmonic
  • pudding I lick from the pavement.
  • My bones cannot wait for night’s turn,
  • for a sliver of holiday
  • to come to the city, starved for
  • beauty, feeding on the last home.

Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, including Embers, a novel in poems, and Insurgent Muse: Art and Life at the Woman’s Building, a memoir. A new poetry collection, Ruin Porn, will be published at the end of 2017. She is the founder of Writers at Work, a creative-writing studio in Los Angeles, and affiliate faculty in the MFA writing program at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is also an instructor of Kundalini yoga and meditation.

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Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

I Go to School in America

  • At 5 AM I stir from sleep.
  • go to school in America.
  • Deep bruise sky lightens into cool
  • streaks of purple, gray. Rooster
  • calls the sun to the horizon;
  • his song pours promise onto
  • streets brittle with consequences.
  •  
  • Morning, gauzy with ideals.
  • Just try to reconcile the wide
  • discrepancies between dreams and
  • unrelenting rhythms of work.
  • In my school, we are not taught to
  • finger our happiness, but to
  • whisper the stories of power.
  • Leaves of newspaper descend from
  • crevice of sky; unrelenting 
  • rain plants ideals of power
  • in our minds but still leaves us parched.
  • In school I read about monsters.
  • When I become one, I will not
  • wonder at the bruised possible.

Sleep Monster Growls Beneath the Mattress

  • Please don’t imagine me in this crummy
  • room, waking late Sunday morning, eyelids
  • crusted with dreams. Pain in my teeth. I’ve missed
  • church. Smell of smoke on the hot wind. Busted
  • radio whines in my brain. Stale donuts
  • on a plate, cigarettes stubbed out in white
  • sprinkles. I’m in the bed of my childhood —
  • sheets thin, ceiling wisped with grime, listening
  • to barely remembered laughter somewhere.
  • I wish I could forget the joke, but time
  • is a permanent blister, a first clue
  • to the devolution we turn blind to.
  • And you, my monster, please don’t disappear.
  • Be like the one-eyed cat marching along
  • my skin, cooling my sickness, remaining
  • with me even after rain scars the ground.

365 Midnights

  • At night I like to stomp around
  • the deserted golf course like a
  • dinosaur in red heels, alone
  • but fearful of nothing. The moon,
  • bloated with fog, doesn’t feel so
  • unknown, feels like an ancestor
  • set sail to another country.
  • At the harbor, I wear black stockings.
  • Sky gray with the heavy music
  • of petroleum. Stars love in
  • a language I’ve forgotten.
  • I’m cautious to listen, don’t
  • want to find out all the secrets
  • since the spaceships blasted their night.
  • In the red morning, voices of
  • bees in shade make a harmonic
  • pudding I lick from the pavement.
  • My bones cannot wait for night’s turn,
  • for a sliver of holiday
  • to come to the city, starved for
  • beauty, feeding on the last home.

Terry Wolverton is author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, including Embers, a novel in poems, and Insurgent Muse: Art and Life at the Woman’s Building, a memoir. A new poetry collection, Ruin Porn, will be published at the end of 2017. She is the founder of Writers at Work, a creative-writing studio in Los Angeles, and affiliate faculty in the MFA writing program at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is also an instructor of Kundalini yoga and meditation.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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