by Rhett Iseman Trull

He has learned to love the loneliness of night,

The possible hauntings, faraway sirens, the silver
Of the sky. He used to follow all the advice: hot baths, warm milk,

Soft jazz, no caffeine. He tried sleeping with socks and without,
In silk or cotton sheets. He even took pills, which made him feel
Upon waking, as if he’d slept through a play’s second act.

He would rather let the rare half-hour naps come when they will:
After a midnight plate of celery sticks and peanut butter, perhaps,
Or in the middle of a cricket serenade
Accompanied by dogs barking across their fences.

He’s never tired, but he can’t help feeling left out,
As if he’s the punch line to night’s only joke, as if the dreams
He could be having are piling up like unclaimed luggage.
By four a.m. even his west coast friends are asleep, but he
Turns his clocks to the wall, ritualizes boredom.

He dances in the empty street, swings upside-down from the trees.
He rescued a kitten, named her Lady, likes to watch her sleep
On his windowsill or curled up purring in his popcorn bowl.
He croons Elvis into the handle of his garden spade
While standing on his coffee table, dressed in tails. He juggles,
Stitches, makes categorized alphabetized lists of the movies he’s seen,

Books he’s read, each pet he’s owned from Amadeus to Zephyr.
But mostly he plays solitaire. Decks of cards, stacked in multiples of five,
Rise like towers of miniature cities in the corners of his apartment.
His goal: to collect enough to play with a new deck
Every night for the rest of his life, however many that may be.
He tries to welcome them, to imagine them being dealt out:
New stars turning over beside each fat ace of a moon.

RHETT ISEMAN TRULL’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2008, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and other publications. Her awards include prizes from the Academy of American Poets and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.F.A from UNC Greensboro, where she was a Randall Jarrell fellow. She and her husband publish Cave Wall in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her manuscript The Real Warnings was selected by contest judge Sheryl St. Germain as winner of the 2008 Anhinga Prize for Poetry.