M.P. Powers

Deliberate Insomnias

M.P. Powers

Empty Night Monologue

It’s not even that warm in here
but I am roasting 
I can’t sleep I can’t keep 
my limbs in one place
I tear the sheets off me 
my pores
have eyes 
my mind is broken 
etruscan pottery  

something has climbed
into me some demon
some long
dead cockroach 
ancestor a minister
a murderer 
my great-great-grandfather
gus wheeler
maybe it’s him maybe
it’s that woodcutter he killed
or a family curse

I am beginning to see 
oblivion as though it were
a palpable 
thing like toenail clippers
or a papaya tree
or a robotic vacuum

hey maybe 
I won’t sleep
at all tonight

I can’t turn off my mind
I am melting I tell you
maybe I will cry
I might even dance
or fill the room with raw

I would
but my wife she’s sleeping
I can hear
the air whistling through her

I want to tell her
how I am suffering I want to
tell her about love
about gus wheeler
about my brain not shutting off
but I better
not she is dreaming

I think I’ll just lie here roasting
in this
my toes wiggling.

Dispatch from a Friend’s Sofa

Not the Sangria or Four Roses,
not the mass of Peruvian cotton,
not the funeral air nor sea
of crickets devouring me.

could bring me under
that night until the moon - which could
just as easily have been a cross
or Picasso’s face –

rolled down a roof
and hung on a branch outside the window,

filling my skull
with dreams.

The Visitors

I get out of bed,
wander down the hall and into the bathroom.
There’s moonlight pouring
through the window, a pool of pearl-gray
floating on the tile.
I stand in it, pee, flush.
Then I see it: my enormous shadow
covering half the wall and reaching
up to the ceiling.
I step away from it,
go to the sink and turn the tap on.
The water is pearl-gray like the moonlight.
It gathers in my hands.
I put my lips to it, see my mother’s
reflection in it. I turn off the tap,
catch a glimpse of my Uncle Jack
in the mirror. I wander back
down the hallway. There are footsteps
following me. Someone climbs
into bed with me.
Someone’s lying next with me.
It’s my grandmother in a green skirt
and a white blouse.
I listen to her breathing.
I hear my grandfather on the other side of her.
I see my other grandparents in the corner
near the curtains.
They’re all with me. My entire deceased
family from 1970s Aurora, Illinois.
I live my nights
in their company.


My dad didn’t tell me
he put my mom
in the closet of the guest bedroom.
I discovered her in there one day
when I was staying over.
She was sitting on the shelf
in a small, cardboard box.
She was nestled among the Christmas decorations.
My dad put her up there, he said,
because he didn’t know
what else to do with her.
He said he couldn’t bear to open the box.
He didn't want to see his wife
of 55 years ground up in some stupid urn. 
So he left her on the shelf in that sealed box
and then I discovered her
and I left her there too, untouched.
I tried to forget she was up there
only ten feet from where I was sleeping.
But sometimes, I could almost hear
that old familiar voice
in that beautiful Midwestern
accent: “It’s been so long since we spoke,
Mike. I hope you know
how much I love and miss you.”
Other times I would think about how
just a few years ago, she would be in and out
of that room all the time,
vacuuming the carpet, dusting
the tops of the picture frames,
going into the closet
to hang a shirt, or take down the ornaments,
never realizing
that one day very soon she too would
be on the shelf with the ornaments
all her girlhood dreams,
her fears, traumas, loves,
everything she’d ever done or hoped for or been
contained in a space
the size of your fist. Jezus, mom,
you really did it this

The Transient

The empty ocean, the buried moon,
your hand in my hair.
Love’s early light breaking through the window.

I know all this has less substance
than air, but so does every Bachian concerto
and the three blue
Chinese mountains.

All is shadow and shadow feeding on light,
the Tree of Life, the leaves
of each generation flourishing
for their brief seasons and letting go,
replaced in Spring.

Listen to the speech
of the birds. Watch the way the moon
joins its horns
and night comes down.

It’s the same tale
told time and again, in parables and metaphor,
ritual magic.

All is shadow and shadow
feeding on light,
the light disguised as rain, as love.

This moment that’s somehow enough.

M.P. Powers lives with one foot in Berlin and one in South Florida. Recent publications include the Columbia Review, Wrongdoing Magazine, Glitchwords, Mayday Magazine, and others. His artwork can be found on Twitter and Instagram @mppowers1132

Tip the Poet

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