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How to Fall Asleep

Count neighbors who voted to take away
your health insurance,
their own health insurance.

Count bodies in hospital basements
claimed by treatable illnesses.

Listen to the steady murmur of family
members explaining their hatred for you
because you’ve gotten unfair advantages
by educating yourself.

Rats or squirrels scurrying across the attic
boards above your bed, gnawing
on the walls as they try to get to you

while you wish you could sleep
so that you can get up and teach
your classes and then go to the other
two jobs you have to work in order to eat.

You hope it’s squirrels.

I am so tired.
I am so tired.

Have a glass of water that may
or may not have poison in it.

Take a sleeping pill and spend
your days nodding off during
your hour-long commute from class
to class.

Count bared teeth.
Fingers pointed at the dead, the dying.
It’s not you, yet.

Count gunshots,
seconds in between the crack and shatter
of glass to see how far away it is.

Take a walk and count the homeless
begging on street corners, the misspelled
words on their signs.

Confederate flags on pickup trucks.
The misspelled words on their homemade
bumper stickers.

Count undocumented workers climbing
the wall to see their children.

Check on your daughter.
Stand in the doorway while she sleeps
counting her breaths, counting
curls on her pillow.
The outline of her form under covers.

They cannot have her.


CL Bledsoe is the assistant editor for The Dead Mule and author of sixteen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love and the flash fiction collection Ray’s Sea World. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter and blogs at NotAnotherTVDad.blogspot.com.