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don’t sleep

don’t sleep. don’t sleep.
i am not done with this business of forming prayers.
my hands are too empty
opening and shutting somewhere outside you.

don’t sleep, i cry, too dizzy for tears.
my eyes open and close unable to choose
between the emptied world or the cluttered darkness
batting like semafores to the drunken rhythm of helplessness.

it is slipping, the side of my head like mud
crashing through my jail of ribs, burying
the heart in rubble. a malformed engine belching
from my stomach: don’t sleep.

and the rest, once a shape, beside and against,
spins through the turn of hours, turn of days
unable to sense any passage forward
anything but the push of your fingertips

still tracing the words...

once every nerve sang
Don’t sleep! Don’t sleep!
my flesh rose like a hundred suns
and morning spread over you in deepening colors

and i, coming inside you, farther than sound,
the multidues of me spilling out like poems in
an alphabet made of water, in a language
only to be spoken by two tongues

and afterward, with tired hands aside my shoulders
you lowered yourself like mist
the cooling points of your breast first on my chest
then all softness spreading across me, legs framing mine.

this perfect landscape is what my palms memorized.
did i fear it then, the tide of love slipping away
like some deathless hope? did i fear
that dreams might replace this perfect wakefulness?

still tracing the words...

i lie, thinking there must be
a way, an argument, an equation, a prayer
to make things right again, to make Us again.
i breathe and breathe, don’t sleep.

don’t sleep. i cannot be done
with this business of forming prayers.
my hands are too empty opening
somewhere outside you...

Don't Sleep © 2000 by Tobin James Mueller
"Falling Past Love" published by ArtsForge Press.
All rights reserved.