Étude in Radial Colors


not sleeping     under this window,

as trees outside      peek through lantern light

and bamboo slats.


the blind’s bunched     strings illume.     sleeping troubles

me most, because     I suspect


I have not met     the right doctor.     yet, the trouble

with thinking at night     about the day     I thought


I would never sleep     again     how it felt

how it feels    (a living still-life)     like now.

I am afraid and say so.


because I cannot remember every body     and every

thing I have known,     and done,

nor what they have done to me


and mine,     my mind is likely to twist     one

thing into another,     twine so—     sound sews


in two syllables    the way I’ve imagined     a knot—


trouble sneaks in,     asks me

what if

Ben didn’t hang himself

from a tree?                           the blind’s bunched strings


illume. because negation     is a rope     I can hang myself with,

I have trouble     with my body. with nights.     Self, inside this


refrain of proper      nouns, I think I might be     as troubling as Ben

who’s passed himself     and passed     Past—


*previous version of this poem published in Ellipsis