Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag


Once I saw this optional idea on Poetry Thursday, I've heard nothing but cliches all week. They're taking over! Here's my interpretation of a cliche very dear to me, the idea of calling sleep 40 winks. If only it were that easy. (I must add that I'm slightly thankful for my insomnia this week, because I don't know when I would have found the time to write otherwise.)

40 Winks

Welcome to paradise, he said to me,
as I stamped my feet in the cold. No shit,
I muttered underneath my breath,
wondering what we really meant.

I watched the digital numbers on the gas pump
accumulate, illuminate, as I waited to go home.

Ten hours later, warm at home, lying
in bed, I am still wondering, trying
to catch 40 winks,
one at a time. They flutter

through my finger tips on eyelash
soft wings. I count them,
like sheep, mouthing the numbers in the dark.

I think about him, talking to me,
clutching the dripping squeegee, slamming it
into the pool of murky blue
water. He walks to the entrance,
talks to the girl in the purple miniskirt
and yellow tights.
I follow them inside.

Welcome to paradise,
he says to the clerk, who hands him
a carton of cigarettes and a case of beer. Welcome
to paradise, he says to the suit,

paying for gas and condoms
on his AmEx. Welcome to
paradise, he says to the teenage boy
unloading the case of candy bars
in the aisle, aligning the red wrappers.

I circle the store, distant
and cold in my pajamas, and make my bed
on a stack of yesterday’s USA Todays.

I wrap myself in gray words
and blurred pictures, the print rubbing off
on my skin. I count my winks,
one by one, as they escape my grasp,
wondering if sleep will ever come home.

12 Comments:

Brian said...

Welcome to Poetry Thursday. Wonderful poem, I love the images that build and flow behind your sleepless eyes.

DewyKnickers said...

Hi Jessica,

Nice to meet you and what a surprise to find myself linked! Stop in and say hello, I'd love to talk to you sometime.

Love your poem, I have weird sleep as you can understand.

Sassy Dewy

xo

ecm said...

Great poem...I like the move from the image of the fluttering 40 winks to this dreamlike state...I like how he keeps saying Welcome to Paradise. I was just visiting a friend in Minneapolis. Lovely city!

RomanceWriter said...

Love the last two stanzas. The reference to USA Today made it seem like a real person to me. That contrasted well with the imagery in the last stanza.

This week was the first time I ecer participated in Poetry Thursday, too.
Have a great day,

Sara

Poet with a Day Job said...

This is an incredible poem! I am so pleased to see another great writer on the block!

Jon said...

I really like this one. The image of the narrator literally trying to "catch 40 winks" but failing because "They flutter // through my finger tips on eyelash / soft wings" is a fantastic one.

Welcome to Poetry Thursday. Based on this poem, I look forward to coming back here for many more wonderful PT poems.

Dani said...

Great use of the cliche -- describing winks as something you must physically catch. Thanks for sharing!

Jessica said...

Wow -- how exciting to have so many positive comments. Thank you for being so welcoming! Sorry I haven't responded individually yet, but 9 to 5 job and all. :)

liz elayne said...

"wondering what we really meant"
this line stood out to me.

i like this poem. nicely done!

(i am finding cliches everywhere as well...it is crazy and...i admit...a tiny bit annoying :))

twilightspider said...

Welcome to PT! I think this poem is just fantastic - your gas-station images are so vivid, almost like the words themselves are shining florescent light down on your story. I can't wait to read future offerings!

Michelle Fry said...

I hated the Poetry Thursday idea for this week until I started hearing cliches everywhere I went. Then it grew on me. I'm glad you stopped by my blog. I am enjoying yours, especially this poetry thursday entry. I like how the 40 winks flutter through your fingers. Nice image.

GeL said...

Wonderful images and flow.
I struggle with insomina,too. This is very creative. (Welcome to PT).