and there are objects that knock
    and are never answered
and a ceaseless movement
    and a confused name.
                      — Pablo Neruda

o, for the old unconscious days when
     i hopped out of bed
at 7 A.M.
     not knowing how glad i was
to be repressed, 
to be unaware
    of my miserable
    how glad to be lonely but
out of touch
with myself.

o, those great busy times
    when i was young and woke
    without memory of a dream,
no traces
of the inner shipwreck —
    no debris, no drowned
animals, no ark torn
to pieces by
         the powerful storms of night.

    could anyone have told me then 
of the nights
i would spend,
    all these years, 
haunted by
opaque dreams, an obscure 
    and heavy darkness?

         and yet, here we are, 
old, tender insomnia,
beyond acquaintanceship, 
    friends now,
watching middle-of-the-night tv together, 
    susceptible to ordering
    strange items from infomercials, 
    hoping this, finally,
    will aid our sleep.

but possibly 
we don’t want
         to sleep anymore, not
the old way. we
         want to wake up for real,

or at least to dream
    the clear vibrating images
that struggle upward from
    the depths —
dreams with stallions and
    who knows what else.

but no, that sounds too 
dramatic. it’s more mundane 
than that.
we have our job
         to do now. we 
have an ocean to empty
bucket by bucket,
         to find the bottom 
and the old ark
and all those dead two-by-two animals 
in need of decent burial.

    yes, that’s insomnia. it’s 
    the last surviving animal 
of your kind.
    so get up and stumble through 
the dark and pee and sort through 
your e-mail
    and eat something and possibly 
masturbate and then remember 
your original task
    and get your bucket
and see if you can empty the ocean 
and find another
    of your kind down there, even 
a dead one.

    no. that’s just an odd, 
feeble joke. we’re
not laughing tonight. 
there’s no strange animal 
down there. it’s
    a small boy flailing
    his arms in the huge surf of 
the dark. he’s waiting for me,
    and I barely recognize him. 
anyway, he hasn’t given up, and 
the waves lift and suck him under,
    over and over,
and that’s it.