Insomnia Poem

A bout of insomnia last night produced a short poem. At 3 a.m., my five-year-old son Colin and I were both wide awake. While he squirmed and rolled around in bed, I covered up to prevent getting struck by his flailing elbows and knees. And in the early morning darkness, these words came to me:

Manifesto for Dejected Artists

To create is to make something
that did not exist before—
something no one requested
and something the world
does not want or need.

And yet, you decided
to make it anyway.
So now it’s here for others
to accept or reject.
Either way, your job is done.

And I have realized from experience that if some lines, words, thoughts, characters or plots float in my head when I’m in bed, that I must jot down the ideas immediately or I will forget them upon awakening.

And on a totally unrelated note, here is a photo of Colin holding his pre-K diploma, which he received on the last day of school on Thursday.


Night Moves

Marco Polo Arts Mag, an online literary and arts magazine, has published a prose poem/experimental essay I wrote. It’s entitled Night Moves and the text follows:

Who says the trees don’t dance when no one is looking? A 3 a.m. when darkness surrounds the neighborhood, they might catch the wind in their leaves and amplify it. They might wave their limbs and shake their trunks and jump around on the front lawn.

Slanting Desert Tree. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Slanting Desert Tree. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Who says trees have to act stoic all the time—just stand there like boulders and endure the weather? Why can’t they have some fun?

For all you know, while you’re sleeping, they may choose sides and face off in a team dance competition. The maple and oak would have to be the captains because they are the most athletic trees. But all varieties would get to dance: the poplar, birch, elm, ash, hickory, locust, walnut, sycamore, etc. Even the evergreen trees—the pine, spruce and fir—would participate; however, they get picked last because they have no rhythm. All they can do is sway their tops a little.

Waltz, salsa, tap, modern, ballroom and line dancing—you name it, these trees can do it.

While you’re in bed you hear the wind rattling against the house and leaves rustling outside your window. But this is nature’s night music and the trees are showing off their moves, gyrating in the backyards, parks, cemeteries and forests of North America. They make the stars jealous because the stars can’t dance; they aren’t in tune with the Earth vibe. They can only look down on the green canopies and shine some light.

Fall Trees. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Fall Trees. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

The trees draw other spectators too, as deer, cats, skunks, dogs, squirrels, crows and rabbits gather to watch the action. Sometimes the insomniac Mr. Johnson will stand at the curb and observe the trees when he’s out walking his collie Garrett at 3 a.m.

Mr. Johnson told me the secret of the dancing trees while I was raking leaves one October day. He said he heard a rumor that the winning regional team will travel by chartered semi to California to compete against a team of palm trees.

The maples and oaks don’t like them anyway. The palm trees think they’re such hot shit because they don’t lose their fronds with the seasons and get to bask in the sunshine all year long.

The trees of the Northeast and Midwest want to remind the palms that while deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn, at least they don’t have to worry about water running out.

The maple team captain already has some smack planned for the palms. When he sees them, he’s gonna say: “Are you guys thirsty? Well, too bad. You only get seven inches of rain a year. Don’t drink it all at once.” The oak captain thought it was funny and said he’d steal the joke if his team beats the maples.

Maybe one of these nights when I can’t sleep, I’ll look outside my kitchen window in the predawn stillness and catch the trees in the act of dancing. Maybe if I step outside they’ll allow me to keep score or judge the dancers. Maybe they’ll even let me hear the music they make so I can dance too.