Prescriptions for Insomnia



If your mind is lit only by the harsh light of Guernica’s bare bulb, it’s time to try dozing on an ancient mattress. Lie in its sagging middle and study the old books which explain the metaphysics of violin-playing nuns. They will be tomorrow’s mastodons, their fossils dug up under the full moon in the dark night of the ages.      


Brush your teeth with a salt-warped toothbrush dipped in lukewarm water that has been sitting in copper pipes a long while. Follow those pipes, see how they make a glittering maze all their own. Realize that the city’s plumbing system is actually a map of heaven, the neurological pathway to ecstasy. Even the rat sniffing in the corner has fur black as a bible.


Realize the witch has left you all the cypress roots, chicken bones and soggy green herb-steepings from every spell she’s ever cast, arranged into a clock on your bedside table. A clock that stinks like peasant skirts. A clock as silent as Stonehenge. A clock that keeps the soul’s time rather than the mind’s.


On an evening too hot to sleep, let a beautiful prostitute take you down to the edges of a green marsh, to a canopy bed whose curtains are so thin they may be made of nothing but sea mist. Listen to the parrots squawking in the cool jungle, very likely headed to the absolute center where an old man sits in an armchair stitching together shreds of the night sky with a golden needle.



Samantha Stiers

has published work in Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, Black Warrior Review, Puerto del Sol, and other magazines. She is the recipient of the Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award and a Best of the Net nominee.