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Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer
by Sean Lovelace

Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer (#3)

He reached an impasse: a desire to sleep, a fear of sleeping. And always the dull weight, the mind-soreness of the thing. He would lie in bed for hours and name it, a dreadful word game, a listing: Licking the black wall. Damp, I feel damp. Iíve got the serotonin shivers, the blur. Drinking the black milk. I got the green hair. The clouds. Brushing my teeth with flies. Dog breath. Petting the black dog. Dog in a river current, chasing a stick, a ball, a stick, a ballÖsinking, goodbye heavy dog. My glass is full of ink this evening. Iím tea dregs and cataracts in an ashtray. I smoke in my dreams now, and when I sneak one. Black smoke of roasting bones. Wreaths and plumes. Dark, scorched, smudged. I wonít be answering that phone. Iím busy, sucking death. Iím riding the night mare. Feeling her black froth, her cold sweat. Canít answer, I said. I got the needle and thread. The sinew. Iím sewing my black suit, black tie, my casket liner. Last night I dreamt I was a folding chair in an empty room. I was curled in a deep pocket, some moist lint. They call it cloaking, this heavy weight on your spine and shoulders. Eating the black ice. Whatís the solution? Gritty. Everything loops and loops. Iím not going to tell you everything. No one does. Really, we know very little. Depression. Way down there, way low.

Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer (#6)

His one harbor, one refuge...

Then sleep scattered in a covey of frightened birds. He would startle awake, three, ten, fourteen times. What was it? Off somewhere, a faint siren. Flutter of night wings. The ceiling fan. A passenger jet, the hiss of contrails. Silence. Window flex, groan of timber. The spin of the earth. Somewhere, someone, a rise and fall, inhalation, exhalation—a breathing, settling of eyes. He would lie there, his pulse in his skin, a threading beneath the inner ear, in his left thumb. Like the clatter, the dash; something slipping out to skulk. Some dull pain of the stomach, the lip-tingling of a cold sore; and he would think, This is new. Something new I am going to have to live with. Until finally—finally, finally—he would fade into sleep. And then awake! Panting, prickly sweat. What was it? The moon; some moon, out there, halving.

Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer (#14)

His mind cycled: an urge to live, no longer live; an even more visceral fear of death. His eyeglasses chafed a sore above his temple, and so he clutched the frames and flung them across the room. Crawled along the hardwood floor, grasped with bony fingers. Half-blind. Lost. Curled up below a chair, a thicket.

     Iíll swim      wounded head     to the light   half light        eclipse   the 
only clothing a human needs 
          the arms of someone, of a lover     a person leaving a show    a person treading water      a person waiting for rain     to stop
hollow bones   bees creating perfect octagons    bird nests        vodka and more vodka, undetectable       breath   a person as crow
metaphor of flying       captive    day and night collide      the robes of Buddha     the robes of Jesus   the robes of ______          early
rain early bird    the        sleet    cocaine, dirty     cut with carefully lower the lamb   the rock dove    cut with
high basalt cliffs  cut with intoxication   Stygian   decay    or flaw   
maelstroms   stones of almost any    cut with Vulcan                    Opium   flamma                             flagrare              suck the night clean
of insects
snatched back to the human         a basin        a bowl          submerging      in the makeup room: two old ladies apply cosmetics to the
models,                their eyes
                                               licking the black wall           
weeping   willow              what is my head doing over there, what is my head

doing off?

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2015 by its authors.

Sean Lovelace is on a river right now. He has a book and a beer. Other times he teaches at Ball State University. His work recently appeared in CrazyHorse, Willow Springs, and so on.

Read the interview.
Issue Eighteen (September 15, 2007): When the Toasts Stopped Being Funny by Steve Almond «» Nailed by Robert J. Bradley «» Raymond Carver by Dan Chaon «» The Sound of Success by Terry DeHart «» Ethnic Lego Girls Carry Spears by Heidi W. Durrow «» Mole Man by Stuart Dybek «» Party by Emily Fridlund «» From Halliville To Grice's Town by Jason Jackson «» Starfish by Jeff Landon «» Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer by Sean Lovelace «» Display by Davin Malasarn «» Little Bones by Kuzhali Manickavel «» Stigmata by Susan O'Neill «» Inroads by Dominic Preziosi «» Bachon by Teri Davis Rouvelas «» Voc Rehab Vignettes by Jessica Schantz «» Neighbors by Curtis Smith «» Caging the Thing by Beth Thomas «» Interviews: Steve Almond «» Robert J. Bradley «» Randall Brown «» Dan Chaon «» Terry DeHart «» Heidi W. Durrow «» Stuart Dybek «» Emily Fridlund «» Jason Jackson «» Jeff Landon «» Sean Lovelace «» Davin Malasarn «» Kuzhali Manickavel «» Mary Miller «» Susan O'Neill «» Dominic Preziosi «» Teri Davis Rouvelas «» Jessica Schantz «» Curtis Smith «» Beth Thomas «» Cover Art "Repression of an Open Mind" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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