Sleep Dance — Jerry McGuire

First the eyelids flop, then flutter, but even
this nuance depends on the body’s trip-up, desire—
all the bads and goodies of the day funneled
through the bedframe, pinched
by sheets and covers, the unique
deposit a scenario of waking makes
on the banks of that spooky river.

That’s right, our nights are effluvia
waiting to happen, our days escapades
of run-off. Those residues make us snappy.
We’d crash but for the night. And so,
sober, drunk, pissed-off, horny, agonized,
impassioned, bored, plotting, terrified,
amnesiac, obsessed, despairing, smug, or sinking
through a spiral of humiliation, sooner
or later we put ourselves down
to the great twin wishes: more or less.

And in this glad or sorry state the eyelids flop,
they flutter, as the body grabs its customary attitude:
on its back, its belly, curled up on one side.
And some will let the brain go now,
while others insist on one last workout.
But blanked or frenzied, listing enemies,
rehearsing a sonata or an insult, plotting
a burglary or imagining its own obituary,
the interstitial poem resolves or doesn’t,
and the eyelids flop, they flutter:
the warmup’s over and the dance commences.

Some movies have hovered above this frame,
as if a god were its audience nodding off
himself, not watching the whole sequence
of squirms and shudders, jerks, rolls, and contortions,
but waking here and there to see the body
sculpted in one position, then the next—
all these run together in his magical mind.

Or perhaps he isn’t so refined. Perhaps
the gods are closer than we think, and use
our sleep to dig their holes inside our heads.
Now every isolated stop has meaning—
we twist because we’re twisted, jerk
because we’re jerks. Inside our heads
our guilts go on, spinning stories about themselves
that spin us on some invisible, unstable axis.

The shorthand for this is wish: more or less.
Our body tells us hot and we wish more water;
it tells us wet and we wish to wake in sand.
It tells us old; it tells us die. We wish for fish,
we wish to fuck, we wish to fly.
The body says ambition makes me ill.
We wish to best a friend and see inside
a forbidden woman’s mouth. The body says
we’re trapped, and your wish is to get out. The
body says we’re trapped, and your wish
is to get out.


Jerry McGuire’s most recent book is Venus Transit. He lives in Lafayette, LA.