March 2018 Poetry Feature: Austin Kelly

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.