Spring 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 2 Poetry |

The Sleepless

f you belonged to our tribe, the sleepless, You too would try to comfort yourself with numbers, Seeking out symptoms of our affliction Among the many who appear rested. You too would want to interpret the walk A neighbor takes long before dawn Less as a sign of his urge to embrace the day Than as part of a strategy to tire himself by nightfall, To meet the god of sleep more than halfway. Like us you'd view the efforts of the town reformer, Valuable as they are, as only partly prompted By civic concern, the wish, say, to protect the river From being scarred by a power plant. You too Would suspect that one of his motives is private: To throw a bone to his watchdog conscience For doings he's not so proud of. May it not bark tonight, he prays, And block the gates to the house of dream. No doubt you're right to admire a colleague of yours For her steadfast refusal to answer with spite The spiteful words of those who attack Her causes by attacking her character. Still, don't you a

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Carl Dennis has published numerous books of poetry, including House of My Own (1974), The Outskirts of Troy (1988), Meetings with Time (1992), Practical Gods (2001), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, and Callings (2010).

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