March 2018 Poetry Feature: Austin Kelly
Sleep is the Cousin of Death and the Prelude to Life
Six hours, thirteen minutes and some seconds
until I work, but my body lies fully awake
in bed, my mind going sixty in a school zone.
I don’t like to sleep because it acknowledges
there is going to be a tomorrow. Without tomorrow,
I will have no anxiety of the day,
no responsibilities to fulfill, will not have to stunt,
work, or read textbooks on subjects I don't care for.
With no tomorrow, I will not have to leave my dogs,
will not say goodbye to the comforting wooden floors
of my home, the soles of my feet.
If I don’t sleep, I won’t have to shower to be decent
for everyone else, won’t have to eat food
to keep my body alive, exercise to stay
in shape, pretend to be healthy, eating plenty
of grapes, bananas, strawberries and drinking
as much water as I can. If I don't sleep, tomorrow
won’t come and there’ll be no reflection on how I should
have gotten more sleep. I can lay in bed and watch TV
with my dogs next to me, sipping on rum and Coke,
living through wondrous characters of Netflix Originals;
Chip, Bojack. If I don't sleep I won’t see tomorrow
and that’s what I tell myself as I drink from the bottle of Jack in my lap.
On walks in between campus and home,
I cross the busy street of National, to pass
the time of waiting for the walk sign,
I like to try and catch my reflection in the passing cars,
trying to hold an image that is shorter than a second. Imagining
what would happen if I took two steps forward, how fast
it would be before it went black. The rest
of the walk home I wonder how many people would visit me
while I was in a coma, would the cheer team come see me,
would my roommates visit me,
how much money would I cost my family
to keep me alive in a hospital bed,
how much would my dogs hate me
for leaving them so long.
An experience similar to Eminem’s overdose, except
when I wake up, nothing would change. I’ll return
to these damned walls, and another day of class, practice,
make another latte, spend all my tips on another bottle of Jack,
drinking it until I fall asleep like always. Part of me
wishes I wouldn’t wake up from that coma, don’t waste
anymore money, erase me off the board, but I don’t see the future
as I open the door to the clatter of claws, tails wagging, my dogs welcome me back.