Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Counting Chickens

Counting Chickens

The day does what it always does:
goes away. We convince ourselves

to forget with contentment, with
fatigue. Who are we when we sleep.

Why do we need unconsciousness.
We lie down, position our bodies

so they are parallel to the floor
and beneath it, the ground, and

scoop up the night’s ration of
stillness. It’s still early. If we can

fall asleep now, we will have almost
seven hours of rest, at least six

solid hours. We pile them up like
ice cubes in a glass, and in the glow

of our attention, they drip, disappear.
That panic you have felt at 3 AM

is real, but was not caused by what
you thought it was, a phone number

you meant to dial earlier and did not,
the money you sent or spent. Count

out three long draughts of oxygen
to nudge your mind back toward sleep.

It’s late tonight, but still early, no light
in the sky yet for tomorrow. Every year,

we relearn how old we are by subtracting
the year of our first recorded appearance

from the year the calendar says it is.
We need time to keep starting over.


  1. Sleep, sleep, sleep
    Once I thought it to be a waste of time. When youth filled days were full of the insatiable hunger for conscious consumption of knowledge both in the consciousness of life and erudition.
    Ironically, as time whittles away the layers of my skin, I've learned the value of rest and sleep and the wisdom that knowledge comes also in dream filled states.

    Love your rendition: '...who are we when we sleep', ' we need unconsciousness', '...scoop up the night's ration of stillness'.

    Love, love, love it!

  2. Every night I go through this dance of trying to get enough sleep and the lack of worry that comes with that sleep.

    I love the pacing of this.

  3. If I could remember better I would rank the poems but today this is my favorite. I love that we forget things, I love that we sleep parallel to the ground and not vertical, I used to count sheep but ok chickens, why do we need unconsciousness, so our soul starts traveling, the hours stacking, I get up three times and my eyes and Ollie's lock, at three a.m. I am thankful that I have two more hours of parallel rest....oh my gosh...this is beyond genius... you even captured the panic xx

  4. Oh insomnia, the bane of my existence! Counting sheep, chickens, whatever never seems to work, but sometimes deep breathing does.

    Love this poem Hannah!

  5. "We need time to keep starting over." There it is, Hannah---the insight I always look for in your poems. Bravo. (I've got sleep envy.(:-D) )

  6. Another great poem! Every word is meaningful, and particularly pertinent to me this morning. I had a trying day at work yesterday, and went to sleep with similar feelings. The hours do stack like cubes, and I wonder each night if I've gotten enough. About subtracting those years- my birthday is coming up.


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