The Hypnology

(First appeared in Crazyhorse, The College of Charleston, Issue 68, fall 2005, pg. 133)

The Hypnology


A man sits on a bus bench and flips a coin.
It’s just after midnight.
The next bus won’t arrive for hours.
To keep the cold air off his throat
he buttons his shirt to the top.
He runs his hand over his wrinkled pants leg
like a blind man smoothing
a crumpled note to read the Braille.
This has nothing to do with a bus.
The streetlights are lost planets;
flies are moons.
Heads, return home.
Tails, remain at the bus bench.
The traffic signal clicks three time before changing.
Once, he got into bed without
even removing his shoes.


A soft blue light sweeps the kitchen
from a television beside a sink
filled with soapy water.
On the television, two women are riding a train.
After three hours of not being able to sleep
she washes dishes, glasses, and two days’ silverware.
She imagines the two women on the television
can see her t-shirt and underwear.
The television is mute;
she doesn’t want to hear what they say about her.
A siren in the distance.
A opossum in the shadow of a garbage can.
The dishes are clean.


A man sits on the curb smoking a cigarette
while she sleeps; raspy inhales, long exhales,
a forefinger against a thumb
when he flicks a butt into the street
before pulling another from the emptying pack.
She wakes to walk the dog
when the moon is between
a streetlight and a tree.
Her white robe billows in the breeze,
collapses, glows in the chill.
The dog sniffs at the man
in his smoky gray cloud.

There is so little to say.
Isn’t this the best use of night,
to make us afraid, make us uncomfortable,
make us stare at the ceiling until morning.
Is sleep a skill or a prize?


Now let me address you, reading
in your car, only lifting your head
when you hear the front door open
and see her coax the dog along the driveway.
Are you embarrassed like the man who can’t explain
his presence in a neighbor’s dream?