In Praise of a Sleepless Night

I’ve become a night watchman.

I turn to this side and that side,

finally sit up in bed

and scan the darkness

for travelling truths.


As guidance emerges from the cracks in my wall,

I count myself among that class of good-natured watchmen,

who cross-examine visitors with riddles

from rickety wooden towers,

and hoot along with the barn owl

at the faded stars during

the idle morning crawl.


Here they lay across my piano,

silhouetted against a blip of streetlight:

a mound of worries leans against a stack of hopes.

In this moment I’ve drifted to my family,

because three brothers drift

out of a fourth’s distracted life

if one doesn’t take a watchmaker’s care in love,

or a watchman’s sense of duty,

which I think must be born from love.


At my watchman’s post, the room begins to soften

like ice cream left on the counter

and clarify like a nut straining

against the threads of its bolt,

and the clink-clank of the watcher’s brain

starts to match the whoosh-wush

of air through the floor vents.


Seeking counsel from the friendly dark,

the black beyond time, I whisper

Hello, I can’t decide what to do

tomorrow afternoon, or less still,

the weeks beyond. It’s the worry of wasted time

that bothers me, for how evil would

those moments be, if soaked in regret?


Now that thoughts start to rush out of the closet

like clothes ready to dress me,

I wonder if I’m less like a watchman

and more like a hot air balloon pilot

gliding low over New Mexico sage and sand,

plucking wisdom from blue tin roofs

for the journey ahead.


Or maybe I’m watchman in a balloon,

and my jurisdiction changes with the wind.