1. His Heart

    His heart keeps him awake while he’s asleep.
    He listens to his heart while he falls asleep in bed.
    His artificial heart gives him insomnia.
    As long as I can hear the sound, I know I’m here.

    His heart keeps him alive while he’s asleep.
    My heart helps me to sleep while I’m alive.
    Oh, patient, this Valentine is for you.

    I had no choice, I knew that I was dying.
    We are trying to survive. We are standing on the shoulders
    of the makers of the heart while we lie on our back in bed.
    They walk with their hearts on their sleeves and their noses to the grindstone.
    He listens to his heart while he falls asleep at night.

    Oh, Valentine, this contraption is for you,
    device of the sacred, the sacred heart.
    It feels heavy to me—it makes a constant whir
    which keeps me awake when I’m trying to get to sleep.
    It has no heartbeat, only this constant whir.

    by Caroline Knox

  2. Bed in Summer

    In winter I get up at night
    And dress by yellow candle-light.
    In summer, quite the other way,
    I have to go to bed by day.

    I have to go to bed and see
    The birds still hopping on the tree,
    Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
    Still going past me in the street.

    And does it not seem hard to you,
    When all the sky is clear and blue,
    And I should like so much to play,
    To have to go to bed by day?

    By Robert Louis Stevenson

  3. Variations on the Word Sleep

    I would like to watch you sleeping,
    which may not happen.
    I would like to watch you,
    sleeping. I would like to sleep
    with you, to enter
    your sleep as its smooth dark wave
    slides over my head

    and walk with you through that lucent
    wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
    with its watery sun & three moons
    towards the cave where you must descend,
    towards your worst fear

    I would like to give you the silver
    branch, the small white flower, the one
    word that will protect you
    from the grief at the center
    of your dream, from the grief
    at the center. I would like to follow
    you up the long stairway
    again & become
    the boat that would row you back
    carefully, a flame
    in two cupped hands
    to where your body lies
    beside me, and you enter
    it as easily as breathing in

    I would like to be the air
    that inhabits you for a moment
    only. I would like to be that unnoticed
    & that necessary.

    By Margaret Atwood

  4. Sleeping with Ghosts

    The ghosts who’ve resided for years
    in those perfectly made beds
    in houses you visit overnight

    were once just guests like you
    or true inhabitants who died
    quietly, almost happy, with the lights out.

    They are they ghosts who let you sleep,
    who speak, if they speak at all,
    into the ear closest to the pillow,

    offer you assurances of dawn
    while their vaguely palpable bodies
    touch you like a strange wind

    looking for a place to rest
    beneath the covers.
    Those other ghosts, wronged

    and forever in league with wrong,
    so much has been said about them.
    But the ghosts who sleep with you

    and let you sleep are the ones
    you might have invited to your bed
    had you known them in proper time.

    They might have believed in the future
    even then, and would have let you
    leave them easily, knowing somehow

    it would come to this, you one day
    drifting toward them, without fear,
    in a world wholly theirs.

    By Stephen “Hot-Damn” Dunn

  5. 6 a.m. Thoughts

    As soon as you wake they come blundering in
    Like puppies or importunate children;
    What was a landscape emerging from mist
    Becomes at once a disordered garden.

    And the mess they trail in with them! Embarrassments,
    Anger, lust, fear - in fact the whole pig-pen;
    And who’ll clean it up? No hope for sleep now -
    Just heave yourself out, make the tea, and give in.

    by Dick Davis