Friday Aug 23

SteinorthJennifer Jennifer Sperry Steinorth is a poet, educator, interdisciplinary artist, and licensed builder. Her poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Colorado Review, jubilat, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, Quarterly West and elsewhere. She has received grants from the Sewanee Writers Conference, The Vermont Studio Center, and Warren Wilson College where she received her MFA in poetry. Her first full-length book, A Wake with Nine Shades, is forthcoming from Texas Review Press in October of 2019. A hybrid text of visual poetry/erasure is forthcoming from TRP, Spring of 2021.  A chapbook, Forking the Swift, was published by Michigan Writers Cooperative Press in 2010. Connect at jennifersperrysteinorth.com.
-------

 
W A K E : A SLEEP IN FORTY-SOMETHING WINKS
after Caroline Bergvall’s “ VIA: 48 Dante Variations”

Midway through our night’s sleep
I woke to find the dream lost
My body shaken from it— salt
 
\ /
 
At the midpoint of the night we were allotted
 
I found myself     in dark apartment
 
\   / /
 
Half through rocky return journey
I woke beneath a skein of geese
three fleet deer mice scrambling o’er me
 
\ /
 
As night was yet a thickening uterus half-traversed
I found the dream detached from me
Sanguine sheets
 
\     /
 
Moonbright snow eclipsing
Sticky shrubbery
I rouse to rabbits ravishing
the pear trees
 
\   /
 
Sleep obscures me
Like a curb ‘neath seven feet of snow
 
Then flood
 
\             /
 
Mid through a moonless wayfaring
Thought unrelenting
 
\/
 
I wake to feast   on egg
And toast   with a knife
 
\ /
 
Midway through a night astray
I lay me down in nauseous wake
A mattress with three sleepers share
next bed over lovers quake
 
\           /
 
Sleep estranged me
 
\ /
 
Mid-through the mourning of our lives
Upon an unmarked granite sty
Sun-steeped among the asphodel
I almost slept.
 
\ /
 
Sleep rent open     and I poured out.
 
\               /
 
We click       Like a Tupperware lid
 
Over left-overs             I think
 
Before          The leak
 
\     /
 
Halfway down a drunken road:
Sirens
 
\ /
 
Astride the horse— midstream—
I dropped my pistol
 
\ /
 
Half again through ancient copse
I came to, sharpening the axe,
And found felled ‘round me
all our favorite trees.
 
\ /
 
Midway through an acid trip
Sofa rising o’er my head
Springs uncoiled and canvas frayed
I shake to hear the Dead awake
 
\ /
 
Mid-sleep                 I go missing
 
A thief in         My stead
 
Breathing                 Heavily
 
\       /
 
Half up the mountain: overlook:
A vast horizon line unspools
For whosoever wears night vision goggles
 
\ /
 
What was me then I knew
Though I did not mean to
 
\ /
 
Halfway in a mental ward
Half across a dirty floor
If you have never driven your children drunk
 
\         /
 
Thigh high in the swamp muck of our lives
Bottomless
 
\ /
 
In the bend of our body’s journey, I knelt me down.
 
\ /
 
Morning slept
Until he rang
 
If you have never found a body…
 
\     /
 
I woke from the dream in which together, for pleasure, over and over
We stab a young, half-naked woman
With a boning knife
 
\         /
 
Half up my winding vertebrae…
Was it….RESPECTABLE hand?… that grazed?
 
The chaste sleep in a tower
Atop a spiral stair…
 
If you have never leapt blindly…
 
\   /
 
Midwaltz crossing spot-lit stage
Ribbons wound to ankle lace
I saw in dark eye downturned grace
And lost my way and lost
 
\ /
 
At the midpoint of the vow
I woke to feed the dog
Who hungers for no food
 
\               /
 
Somewhere along the road I lost it
 
\                                /
 
Midway through the birth
I felt the hook
 
\ /
With wounded man and swaddled babes
In dark thicket bearing
No blade
 
\ /
Midway through a double-shift, a triple-shot, a single-pane
 
\       /
 
Midway through a fission trip
Lover dipping o’er my lips
I woke to see     the man a wolf
The wolf a child       the child death
 
\   /
 
Sentient
Twixt window sheer
And sash
I felt a draft
And touched the glass
 
\ /
 
Half up the trunk of virgin pine
Lightning cleaved her ribcage wide
And bent half back again to earth
One part to pray   the other curse
 
\ /
 
Halfway through a cleanse
Sucking lemons
 
\ /
 
The cup tipped half one way
Then the other   which is to say
We were at sea   awake
Alone   with what spilt
 
\     /
 
And afterwards we were not sure                       If we had come to the center
Of ourselves by which I mean                   The coming and
Going between               Rooms our sheer
curtained rooms only             We knew each
Other’s beauty         Was beast
 
\     /
 
Peeled back: the eye of hurricane:
 
\ /
 
Halved and through the shovel: snake:
 
\     /
 
In dark— the middle sleep
—from sleep—
 
twisting