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MIDSUMMER NIGHTS

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VITAMIN ZZZ: summer 2018 MIDSUMMER NIGHTS Produced by SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com; edited by Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH. All rights reserved. Images included in this digital publication are permitted for use as described in credit captions, or are public domain, or are credited below: Cover image: "Angel Sleeping, Dreaming." Manfred Antranias Zimmer, May 2014. Image courtesy Pixabay. Interior repeating image: "Fairy Tale." Mabel Amber, August 2016. Image courtesy Pixabay. No part of this digital compilation may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. For information permissions for reprints or excerpts, contact Tamara Sellman at sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com. For more information about SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com, please visit the website at www.sleepyheadcentral.com. The content of this publication is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. While the editor and publisher is a board-registered polysomnographic technologist and certified clinical sleep health educator, she is not a doctor and it is beyond her scope of practice to issue diagnoses or prescribe therapies. However, general content found at SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com may be useful if you are in need of general sleep health information.


VITAMIN ZZZ

A digital literary quarterly devoted to sleep

SUMMER 2018

MIDSUMMER NIGHTS Edited by Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH

A PUBLICATION OF SLEEPYHEADCENTRAL.COM


VITAMIN ZZZ

MIDSUMMER NIGHTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About Vitamin ZZZ    6 MIDSUMMER NIGHTS: An Introduction by editor Tamara Sellman     7 "Train Thoughts" & "Lake Shore Limited "Nocturnes"      Meg Freer    8                                                                                         Vani Alana Winick    25                              "You Awaken in Your House Wearing         "I Dreamed of Birthing a Premature       Only Your Robe" & "Go Directly to Jail     Baby" and "Treehouse"      Larry Blazek    10     Elya Braden    26 "The Rest on the Great Plains"     Laura Madeline Wiseman    11

"I Dreamed I Went to Rome"   Terri Elders    28

"A Slice of Sleep, Please, and Make it a     Double"      Lorri McDole    12

"Our Unconscious Censor"    Carol Smallwood    33 "Sleep Vignettes"     Mary Ellen Talley    35

"Two Big Scary Spots"    Marion Cohen    20 "What are Your Worst Dreams?"      Marion Cohen    21

"Dream Pool"   Sally Zakariya    38

"1954"     Marion Cohen    22 "Advice to My Younger Self Regarding     Sleep"     Emily Rose Cole    23 "My World"       Bill McCloud    24

"Instructions for a Dream"   Sally Zakariya    38

"Sleep"   Judy Kronenfeld    40 "5 A.M."     Judy Kronenfeld    41  "Dreaming of My Sister" & "Dreams     Have a Way"     Joan Mazza    42

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"Farm Dream"   Elaine Reardon    44

VITAMIN ZZZ

"Melt"   Phyllis Wax    46 "The New Rest Cure"     Ann Tweedy    47 "Thrown Into This, As This"     Michael Anthony Istvan, Jr.    48

Publisher SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com Editor, Product & Design

"Vesperal"   Diane Kendig    50

Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH

"Acute Angle"   Diane Kendig    52

Contact Information

"Disrupting Prayers"     Deonte Osayande    53 Acknowledgments   60 Call for Submissions   61  About SleepyHeadCENTRAL   back cover                                     

SleepyHeadCENTRAL ATTN: Tamara Sellman 321 High School Road NE PMB 204, Ste. D-3 Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 Business inquiries only: 206.618.7348 sleepyheadcentral@gmail.com


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about Vitamin ZZZ Vitamin ZZZ is a digital literary quarterly dedicated to all things related to the biological process of sleep. It is intended to be read for enjoyment, but can be seen as an instrument for sleep health advocacy, public health awareness, and patient education. Editor Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH is no stranger to the world of literary publishing. A freelance writer with a degree in Journalism (specialty: magazine editing and publishing) from Columbia College Chicago ('90), she is a seasoned publishing professional with over 30 years of expertise. First-hand experiences in publishing since 2000 include work as publisher and editor of Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism (2000 to 2007) and its zine edition, Periphery (2003 to 2006); publisher of the limited edition Southern Revival chapbook, which raised enough funds to replace lost books in an entire small town library following Hurricane Katrina (2006); founder of Writer's Rainbow Literary Services (2009 to 2012), where she served as creativity coach, developmental editor, online workshop teacher, blogger, and literary community leader; and project manager for Penumbra: Speculative Fiction from the Pacific Northwest (2011), among other projects. She is a widely published award-winning poet, essayist, journalist, and fiction writer with two Pushcart Prize nominations and other accolades. Her journalism credits date back to the mid-1980s. Sellman established her board credential as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) in 2013 and was one of the first in the world to become board-certified in clinical sleep health education (CCSH) in 2014. She currently produces SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com, Vitamin ZZZ, a weekly column ("While You Were Sleeping: This Week in Sleep Medicine") for the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), and contract work for sleep clinics, online health publications, and nonprofits.

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MIDSUMMER NIGHTS: an introduction It would be tempting to relate the theme of this latest edition of Vitamin ZZZ to the current state of the seasons, which in 2018 means a hot, humid, daunting summer on fire for many. Instead, we're happy to offer some respite from sweaty summer nights in the form of magical, dream-like writing more akin to the puckish fantasy of Shakespeare's classic, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Dreams, despite what some pedants will argue, can make for welcome tales of moonlit marvel and poems that dance with twilit words, images, and ideas. Larry Blazek shares two earthbound reveries that will make you smile. Marion Cohen asks the question, "What are your Worst Dreams?" Carol Smallwood wonders whether the waking life might be ruled by a dictator buried within the unconscious. Nightmares are also the subject of several contributions. MIDSUMMER NIGHTS isn't just about dreams and nightmare. It's also about things that plague our sleep... or how sleep problems plague our everyday lives: sleep deprivation, insomnia, sleep paralysis, narcolepsy, shift-work disorder. Sometimes it's not the sleep issue itself, but how those around us deal with it. Michael Anthony Istvan Jr's poem about a sleep talker weaves the real and the unreal into an uncertain mesh. Meanwhile, abecedarian prose by Lorrie McDole humorously calls out the religion demonization of her sleep disorder, echoed more gravely in Deonte Osayande's courageous and vulnerable personal essay, "Disrupting Prayers," in a way that's relevant to our growing awareness of physical sleep's connection to mental health and wellness. Finally, what's summer reading without a little vacation? Meg Freer starts us off with poems about sleeping lulled by rail. Elaine Reardon's "Farm Dream" counts sheep. Terri Elders' dream story will take you places (Rome, to be exact... be careful what you pack!). Laura Madeline Wiseman narrates an excursion into the digital sector where sleep may not be possible. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by the diversity of language, ideas, and perspectives in this double issue, and I wish you all cool nights and sweet dreams. ~ Tamara Sellman, editor

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TRAIN THOUGHTS

LAKE SHORE LIMITED

Give yourself over and into the rhythm.

Above all, a miracle,

Don’t even listen to noises of the night:

you slept on the train

bumps and rattles, the squeaks and the knocking,

and woke up in Toledo,

the whir and the whoosh and incessant whistle blowing.

on the top bunk no less, and Michael Jay took such

Truly there’s an art to sleeping on a train.

good care of us and called

Try not to sense all the shifts of direction, turns on an angle, the bridges and tunnels, high points and low points, the speeding and slowing,

you Kal and gave you a kit for a piggybank shaped like a train. A beautiful sight,

sharp fleeting smells of fuel and burning brakes,

you asleep with your bear,

ping and slap of rain or the shifting play of light.

but I was jealous

Give yourself over and into the rhythm.

of your dreams.

Your mind will unwind and let sleep come at last. Meg Freer Meg Freer

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TITLE

"Dream Woman." Jรถrg Prieser. June 2014. Digital image courtesy Pixabay.

Meg Freer lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. "I started writing poetry by being woken up by phrases that flashed in front of me as if on a TV screen. I was angry at having my sleep disturbed in this way. Sometimes I would retain the words until morning and then write them down, but often they were gone. Finally, I resorted to leaving a notebook and pencil near the bed so that I could write things down before I forgot them. Fortunately, this doesn't happen much anymore. But fragments of dreams often inspire or make an appearance in my poems."

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YOU AWAKEN IN YOUR HOUSE WEARING ONLY YOUR ROBE

the house is full of people

you are still trying to wash and dress

you pry yourself free from a talkative Latin woman

you stop at a ramshackle hotel

to use the bathroom to wash and to dress

all the rooms resemble places you have lived

the toilet has fallen through the floor

a dark woman always has her door open

the bathtub has soiled clothing in it

she is cleaning an elaborate firearm

you try to wash in the cleanest part of it

you speak to her about it one day

when two women join you

and offer to show her your gun collection

you find yourself in the bed of a pickup

but the only one that you can find

that is traveling across the city

is a shotgun in your ex-wife's room Larry Blazek

GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL

You are about to sleep upon an improvised hammock in the lobby of the jail but a guard tells you that you have to live in the cage he takes you down rows of caged farm animals until you walk out the back door to a parklike area that has men in overalls milling around or sitting upon benches the guard finds you a place on a bench next to a friendly fellow who suddens walks away when you express distaste when he pecks you upon the cheek Larry Blazek

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Larry Blazek lives in Orleans, IN. "Most of my poems are based upon dreams. Some people might consider some of them nightmares, but I eagerly write them down as material for my work."


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THE REST ON THE GREAT PLAINS

On every ride far from home, there will be habits to open a phone or social media to reconnect  to some history of friends’ photos, posts, and shares 

Laura Madeline Wiseman is from Lincoln, NE. "Yoga Nidra is one of my favorite ways to fall asleep."

or to meet strangers who act as friends. So maybe this is that moment to offer a big thumbs up, emoticons that dance and wave, or to remain a silent lurker. Late last night, sunburnt, as you tried to sleep in a tent  in a small town city park, a midnight train rumbled a few feet from your bedroll and shook you. Hello insomnia. Listening for what else might be out there  on the tracks, in the dark storm of sky, lying belly down,  worn out, too agitated to rest, you watched videos, swiping here, then there, opening Hex FRVR,  Crossy Road, and Pac-Man, then Messenger, then email,  anything to touch another at a distance that feels safe, some 2,100 plus miles, that halfway to somewhere.  Laura Madeline Wiseman

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A SLICE OF SLEEP, PLEASE, AND MAKE IT A DOUBLE

“Sleep. Those little slices of death. How I loathe them.” – Unknown ALTAR CALL Every Sunday of my youth, Pastor Murphy made a multi-part altar call. First he called those who wanted to be saved by accepting Jesus into their hearts and then those who wanted to be re-saved by reaffirming that commitment. Next, he called those who needed physical healing, because regardless of their salvation status, staying alive at least gave them another day (or decade) in which to repent. Finally, Pastor called for those with “other afflictions,” and that’s when my parents would pull me out of our pew. Serenaded by parishioners speaking in tongues, we’d sidestep those who had been slain in the spirit by God (and Pastor’s palm pushing against their foreheads) and dodge Brother John, who was always running around with blankets and jackets to cover the nyloned legs of ladies lying on the floor.

BODY AND SOUL When I silent-scream myself awake, I’m thrashing, pinned to the bed. Even my voice is trapped, throttled in my throat. I’m 11, and while my parents are lying in their bedroom just yards down the hall, Satan is sitting on me. I don’t actually see Him (He’s invisible, like God), but I attend the Foursquare Gospel Church of Centralia, Washington three times a week and have been well educated about this battlefield: God and Satan are fighting over my body on the way to their real destination, my soul.

CONFESSION Hi, my name is Lorri, and I’m a bad sleeper. But I’m really good at it! I can not sleep for days and still function normally, which makes me wonder if sleep is a racket, like church. When Pastor said we couldn’t do certain things because we were Christian, I took him literally until peer pressure intervened and I discovered I could do pretty much anything and get away with it. Unless it turns out I haven’t.

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DIRTY It was always a point of pride for me: I never fell down. I pushed back, a battle between Pastor’s hand and my forehead, between God and my willful self. Still, I would start to sweat even before he asked the inevitable question: “Is there unwashed sin in your life, child?” It was his job to traffic in the unending supply of unwashed sin. But whose fault is it that we never come clean no matter how much we confess, that every Sunday it seemed we were all too dirty, still, for God?

EARLY RETIREMENT You’re supposed to sleep eight hours a night, a third of your life, and it’s good work, if you can get it. It feels like a job, one I’ve never been able to master. But what if instead of taking my daily slice of sleep I’m saving up for the whole loaf all at once? There I’ll be, stacking up days like they’re part of a Costco-sized bakery item, when—wham!—down will slap the heel—and sloop!—into the plastic bag I’ll go. Lorri’s the name, early retirement’s my game.

FFI, aka FUCKED I read a story about a guy who had Fatal Familial Insomnia, a disease so ominously named I knew it had to be real even before looking it up. “A disease that starts with minor difficulties falling asleep and graduates to muscle movement problems, the complete inability to sleep, dementia, and finally death, all occurring within 36 months. No treatment is available.” My mother used to counter my admonitions about smoking herself to death with, “Well, at least I know what I’m going to die of.” I can understand it, the strange satisfaction in having something to claim, but I can’t help wondering how she feels now, if she feels, now that she’s been gone seven years.

continued

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GHOULS Technically, my adolescent experience with Satan is known as “sleep paralysis,” a common occurrence, but for centuries these experiences have been attributed to whatever looms large in the current collective psyche: ghosts, witches, aliens, the Grim Reaper. Donald Trump, anyone?

HOPE AND RESIGNATION

But: I still believe in sleep! Every morning I get up from my sleepless bed and every night I go to it, full of hope. No matter how many unrequited nights, I don’t give up. How can I, when Sleep Incarnate (my husband) is lying right next to me? I study his face, wonder if he’s stealing my share, and on cool nights I scoot closer, have no qualms about trying to steal sleep from him. I toss and turn, hallucinate a movie that turns into a book I’m simultaneously reading and writing, and then finally land on my back, arms and legs splayed, willing God or Satan or even Trump to take me. All comers considered.  I

DON'T SLEEP

the rest of the night after Satan’s visit, nor, really, for the rest of my life.

JOHN

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, Brother John, Brother John? Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing. Ding ding dong. Ding ding dong. I want to know who John is, how he can sleep through all that racket.

KEEPING ME AWAKE

After going through all the possible reasons—too much caffeine, too much alcohol, not enough water, too much water, sex before sleep, no sex before sleep, kids waking, cat jumping, husband/dog snoring, money worries, fear of growing old—I know that my problem isn’t just not sleeping, it’s living. A cure I’m not quite ready for.    

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LUNICITY Insomnia prompt #248: Pick a letter. Calmly, slowly, think of words that start with that letter until you drift off. Love, Lord, lake, luscious, lucid, luster, luminosity, light, lyrical, lather, lion, lying, lure, lurid, lewd, lick, latrine, labyrinth, loquacious, lucky, Lucy. Lucky Lucy, who didn’t get pregnant as a teenager like her older sister, or like my daughter. You can see this never ends in drifting off.

MORE REST “I haven't been to sleep for over a year. That's why I go to bed early. One needs more rest if one doesn't sleep.” Evelyn Waugh

NOT SO BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY

I’m the rhinoceros of drugs, a woman posted on a chat thread about sleep. It takes a lot to bring me down. She thinks she is the rhinoceros, but she is not. I didn’t start prescription sleep medications until I was 49; now, six years in, I’ve tried varying doses of them all: Ambien, Halcion, Klonopin, Lunesta, Oleptro… Not to mention the non-prescription sleep inducers: lemon balm, tart cherry, Unisom, valerian root, Benadryl, alcohol, melatonin, marijuana, exercise, sleep whisperers on YouTube, just to name a few. Many of them help me get to sleep; none of them, even in conjunction with one or a few others, keep me there for long.

OR Do they really help me sleep, or do they just make me forget that I didn’t?

POINT OF VIEW

As much as I’d like to blame Satan’s visit, I was probably doomed from the womb, because my dad doesn’t sleep either. He’s 84 now. Sleep is either a very long story or a very short one, depending on how you look at it. continued

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"The Day Dream." Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 1880. Public domain image.

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QUEEN OF A guy tried to pick up my friend Lisa while we were out at a dive bar. When she rejected him, he said with a thick accent, Who do you think you are, Queen of Renton? Every girl should be the queen of something.

REST OF MY LIFE

“I’m not going to kill you,” I swear Satan simpered into my ear all those years ago. “I’m just going to torture you for the rest of your life.” Every year, I believe him more.

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE Mothers often trade sleep stories: how we sleep sitting up, sleep with our eyes open, sleep without actually sleeping. My stories are epic, because my daughter began having night terrors the minute I found out I was pregnant with my son, and she had them every night for four years. When my son was almost two, for example, I would go to bed at 10:00, get up to my daughter’s screaming at 11:00 (and 1:00 and 3:00 and in between), and then get up for good at 5:00 with my son. He would not be cajoled back to sleep but instead sat on the couch with a pacifier hanging out the side of his mouth like a cigar while he commanded: “Go get your coffee!”

TAPPING

The official term is Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT, but everyone calls it tapping. Proponents swear it can help with everything from pain to weight loss to, of course, insomnia. The gist is that you tap your finger tips on certain meridian points on your body while saying or listening to a script that starts by acknowledging the issue and then moves on to affirmations. I found a British guy online, who, for a lack of a better phrase, does it for me: “Hello you troopers…I’ve decided to record this particular one because it’s quite late in the UK, probably around 3:00 in the morning, and I haven’t been able to get to sleep, so…” I don’t remember exactly what he says, and if I watch now, I might fall asleep. Unlike some other tapping experts, I feel like this guy is just hypnotizing me. Maybe it’s his accent.   continued

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UNKNOWN So why don’t I listen to the British tapper more often, when clearly his routine works for me and obviously an addiction to him must be better than an addiction to most other things? How complicit am I in this not-being-able-to-sleep thing? But as with everything else I’ve tried, I don’t stay asleep for long.

VERMIN

I was in the backyard with my three-year-old grandson when we discovered a dead baby rat. He recoiled at my scream and then stooped to look closer. “He’s sleeping,” he declared, and then put up his finger to make another point: “And also dead.” I can’t say that doesn’t sound peaceful.

WIN ME

Pastor said that God and Satan were constantly battling for our souls, that the more we professed our love for God, the harder Satan would fight to take us away from Him. The bottom line was this: If I stayed steadfast with God, He would eventually win me. It wouldn’t occur to me until years later that God, while undoubtedly able to win me, might not want to. That one day, exasperated with my inability to understand what staying steadfast meant, He might throw his hands up and say, “Take her, she’s yours.”  

X-RAY

All those Sundays, I stood at the altar with the “other affliction” sufferers. Everyone knew that Brother James tipped the bottle too much, that Sister Carol had left her husband and little girls and gone who-knows-where for a while. The idea that my “affliction” might be my own fault felt like an x-ray into my soul, my worst self. Was my not sleeping a subconscious choice? Was it a sin or the result of one?

YOU HAVE TO

Parents: You have to go to sleep! Husband: You didn’t sleep again? Oprah article: For every hour under seven by which you cut your nightly sleep...

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(People, I don’t cut my sleep. It cuts me!)

ZZZ

Even the worst dreams—where I’m driving without lights on, can’t reach the pedals, and have only a mannequin in the passenger seat to help—are welcome. I look at myself smugly in the mirror the next morning. Ha ha, I think, I caught you sleeping.   Lorri McDole

Lorri McDole lives in the Pacific Northwest. “When I was young, I would go to my mom in the middle of the night to tell her I couldn’t sleep. She slept like a rock and always said the same thing, which she never remembered in the morning: Go sleep on the ironing board. I slept the best in my twenties and the worst when my kids were young, at least in terms of quantity. Now 56, I feel it more. I get a kick out of my dreams, which are fueled, I’m sure, by medication. I’ve published several stories based on dreams.”

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TWO BIG SCARY SPOTS

It took days to remember the nightmare

And we have the nightmare

that had brought my parents to my side.

before we remember it.

I had been just there, innocently there

Yes, it took days to remember that nightmare

and all of a sudden had appeared a giant spot.

and 30 years to watch it come true.

I called it a spot

Marion Cohen

even though it had been big. It had been splashed there. It hung vertical on something like a clothesline. It was a scribble-scrabble, a carnival full of dense colors some of them dark black-ish red. And I don’t believe dreams are premonitions

but except for size, that spot looked just like that spot in my underwear 30 years later four weeks into that pregnancy. They even called it spotting because it needed only one pad. Dying always leaves a spot. A spot that doesn’t go away.

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"WHAT ARE YOUR WORST DREAMS?"

Class conversation question in my course, Mathematics in Literature, inspired by the poem “Floating” by JoAnne Growney I didn’t share my nocturnal cramping with the students but they sure shared their nocturnal woes. Heather has nightmares all the time, she dreams someone’s killing her, not trying to but actually, once she could feel the knife go into her thigh. And when Kaylee dreams she’s flying, her real-life body takes the cue and races to her right, dumps her out of bed onto the floor. And Claire says “I have sleep paralysis,” meaning she’s conscious when she’s having it, not like the rest of us, she says it lasts a long time, or seems to and that’s what counts, it could be as long as an hour, she says, and it hurts to try to move, and this past week Elise dreamed her big furry elephant named Clifford came alive, in a bad way. I asked whether anybody actually wishes they didn’t have their nightmares and most of the class nodded yes, definitely but Rosa says she doesn’t really mind them, in fact she’s not really in them, she’s watching them and she likes watching horror movies, and my own nightmares might sound gruesome but I don’t mind them, either, don’t wish I didn’t have them, not usually, although sometimes I’m glad when I wake up, especially when it’s a losing my purse dream. I didn’t ask whether anybody was afraid to go to sleep, like one of my students from a few years ago, but my guess is, nobody is, not even me, even though I know that, no matter how cozily I drift off, I’m going to wake up suddenly with cramping 7-pain meaning 7 out of 10 but I’m not afraid to go to sleep, I’m just not. Marion Cohen

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1954

That was the year of the first diary and the inner-life autobiography and anti-segregation and the year I dubbed myself Junior Philosopher. And I was sure of it, if I were ever to be kidnapped and tied up, or captured by Nazis, all I needed do was blurt out “You exist” and the Nazi would crumple. He would go deep with existential horror and he would Realize. Like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “you exist” was a thing to say when there was nothing else to say. And it would work. I knew that because I’d tried it on myself. I grew out of that silliness but one night I dreamt I tried it on someone else, “you exist” and the Nazi gasped. He reeled backwards, hands on his face, fingers over his eyes. Horror was ending him. And then he broke. Like a vase, like a cookie, into tiny dead pieces. It was like the end of Alice in Wonderland. He was only a pack of cards. Marion Cohen

Marion Cohen lives in Pennsylvania. "Once I had sleep paralysis, for a few seconds, maybe more, after I awoke. It was scary. I might have murmured to Jon, 'Could you please move my right arm from under my head.' To the extent that I could murmur. My first husband had paralysis, just-plain paralysis (from multiple sclerosis). And what I murmured was very much like what my first husband murmured to me."

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ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF REGARDING SLEEP

Little dear, you will always fear this kind of falling. Other girls will dream of crown princes or dapple-grays or road dust speckling the topcoat of their golden nails. Not you. Your sleep is a trap with double teeth where women with swan-long necks shove moths into your mouth,   gulls with foxes’ eyes cry the names of the dead, the fourth rung of every ladder spreads its hood and hisses. But you’ll get used to it. Soon, shuddering awake will be as natural as popping your knuckles. Never drug yourself with anything stronger than chamomile—nothing is ever dreamless enough. Instead, practice a new form of self defense: teach yourself to be lucid, to notice when your body is not your body. Remind yourself to search for that scar a slipped penknife whittled into your palm.

Emily Rose Cole currently lives in Cincinnati, OH. "I have always had a complex relationship with sleep, due to regular nightmares, lifelong difficulty falling asleep and, more recently, a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, which means that much more sleep is required (though often interrupted by the needs of my unruly body). This poem, I hope, expresses the complication and frustration regarding sleep, but doesn’t detract from its necessity. Dreams, in particular, are so important for stimulating the creative mind."

Learn to recognize a nightmare’s seam by feel so you can escape the moment before the axe sings through the air and the headless chicken becomes a headless child bellowing mama, mama. Emily Rose Cole

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MY WORLD

When I sleep I drop into my world of pain and I remember But it is upon waking that the terrors return and I again look forward to my dreams of pain Bill McCloud

Bill McCloud, writing from Oklahoma: "The older I get, the more difficult it becomes to separate my time awake from my time asleep. Eventually I'm going to stop trying!"

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NOCTURNES

If you had seen her, you’d know. Sweet raccoon mamma, her five young coons in a tree. Upon photographing, my camera flash transformed them into five glowing pairs of eyes.

City lights swallow starlight, the glow disrupts the night. Quieter than daytime, descending owl tones begin. Where do they go from here? Hunting prey, while the man on the corner searches a restaurant trashcan. I hope  he finds something worthwhile.

An alley, a stairway, people, rats. The pm’s become am’s and stretch on, a rubber band between fingers extending and getting tighter, about to pop, like the sun bursting out from behind a hill. Nocturnes eyes aren’t ready for the light. Brightness burns, deletes the darkened shadows, toning them to blue.

Daylight has intruded, rise. Vani Alana Winick

Vani Alana Winick lives in Santa Barbara, CA. "The recipe for my sleep has so many ingredients, that I rarely obtain them all at once. Lying awake in bed is frequent and frustrating, leaving me fearful of early morning commitments. My special skill is: staying awake. This is useful for driving and pulling allnighters, but not for napping. Not for nighttime sleep. I sleep best in the wilderness, far away from light pollution and sound pollution."

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I DREAMED OF BIRTHING A

TREEHOUSE

Only the air is different.           Even in my flying dreams, I’m still human—lumbering,

PREMATURE BABY

You know how some dreams cling to you, cobweb you in memory?

unfeathered. My mind, locked           in this soft body, all arms and legs and rounded belly. The magnolia

My baby, at home inside the dream, haunts me through the day, crying. We pick through sleeping villages, collecting shards of revelation. You and you and you, nod, remembering your own unshakeable wraiths. How they burn behind the retinas, snatch breath, force us inward and down. Elya Braden

Elya Braden lives in Los Angeles, CA. "Once upon a time, there was a faraway country called Sleep and a beautiful princess who was lost in the Desert of Wakefulness, struck by lightning strikes of Hot Flash. But in the few and far between moments that she staggered into REM pits of dreams, she dreamed dreams in Technicolor fit for IMAX and 3D glasses. These dreams she weaves into poems."

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praises outside my window,           dressed in its Spring tablesetting of white. Unseen birds twitter: “tee, wee, hee,             triddle, tee, wee.” The sky grey, then blue again. Brushstrokes of clouds             slant southeast. Northwest a triangle of office towers, stolid and certain, dense             as my body, falling out of dreams, out of sky. Elya Braden

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"Treehouse." Michael Bryant-Mode. December 2016 photomontage courtesy Pixabay.

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I DREAMED I WENT TO ROME

Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant clothes. —Carl Friedrich Gauss "Why, you've only packed underwear!" Mama's tone suggested concern, not irritation or anger. "Oh, no!" I wailed, peering into my suitcase. She was right. All I'd packed for Rome were panties, bras and my cosmetic bag. No slacks, no sweaters, nothing. I turned to her, heart pounding with anxiety. "What can I borrow?" Mama giggled, shocking me. Her clothes wouldn't fit. She was four inches shorter and five sizes smaller. I really had literally nothing to wear. The realization startled me awake. I sat up, dazed, my heart still thumping. Granted, dreams rarely reflect life's probabilities. Even so, this one unsettled me. Mama had died nearly 30 years ago. I'd seldom dreamed about her. Moreover, a seasoned world traveler, I prided myself on packing carefully. No way would I forget essentials. In my dream I saw Mama clearly. She'd stood trim and shapely, in high heeled pumps, wearing a fitted dress. I couldn't recall seeing myself…only hearing my despair. I had no idea what I wore, likely something dreary, shapeless, nondescript.

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Since I'd briefly studied Jungian psychology as part of my graduate training in social welfare, I still retain a smattering of understanding about the meaning of dreams. I remembered that dreams about mothers might represent the more intuitive side of ourselves, and those about travel bags could symbolize the beliefs we carry around from past experiences. Still, I was uncertain how to interpret this dream. True, a girlfriend and I would be leaving in a few weeks for a tour of Italy. That certainly explained why I knew in my dream that I was opening my suitcase in Rome. The rest puzzled me. Then I had a hunch. I scurried to my closet. When I'd moved to my tiny apartment a few months earlier, I'd had to prune four closets stuffed with clothes. I'd set aside items that no longer fit, or were so out of style that even I, never a slave to fashion, couldn't imagine donning  without feeling hopelessly dated. I'd tossed out the faded or raggedy things, and carefully folded the better discards. I'd hoped that somebody shopping at Goodwill could put my contributions to future use. What no longer fit me might fit somebody else. Now I flicked through the few items I'd brought with me, trying to find something suitable for a European vacation. Aside from bathing suits, which I'd needed for my therapeutic water aerobics classes at my senior living complex, I hadn't bought anything new to wear since I'd arrived in California. My old blouses and tunics, at first, had seemed sufficient for an occasional movie outing or book club meeting. After all, I'd now officially retired from my years serving as a public member of a state medical commission. I no longer needed business clothes. I'd hung on to one pair of black velvet slacks that I'd sometimes paired with a glittering black cardigan for eveningwear. Since moving, I'd only worn that outfit once, to a holiday meal with my son, his wife and her mother, Maria. Maybe that would do in Rome. continued

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myself. I'm too old and dumpy for such glamorous fare, I'd thought. Widowed now for six years, I no longer had any need to dress up. My late husband, Ken, had noticed and appreciated clothes. In particular, he'd embraced color. He'd encouraged me to buy new clothes in earlier days when we took cruises and motoring trips through Europe. Even on our last vacation, traveling through Great Britain on trains, he'd picked out sweaters for me in the shops we’d visited in Scotland: scarlet, aqua, seafoam green. "Don't wear black all the time," he'd scolded. "It reminds me too much of funerals. We're still alive." Later, when he died, something had died within me, too. I'd lost interest in dressing to look nice or to be noticed. All the color seemed to have washed right out of my life. Our home had been in a remote rural corner where snow remained on the ground for five months of the year, somber, gray and white. I blended right in. Now I'd returned to California, with its Technicolor vistas. I live in a complex with lush gardens filled year-round with magenta and coral roses and rainbowed pansies, geraniums, nasturtiums. Even in February, color abounds, skies sapphire or azure, sunsets striped in orange, red and salmon. Did I have anything appropriate for late winter in Rome? It would be chillier there. I'd need warmer clothes for evenings out. Jackets? Cardigans? I retrieved the itinerary I'd received a few days earlier from the tour company. Besides a rooftop restaurant welcome supper in Rome, we'd enjoy a wine-tasting luncheon near Florence, a gala farewell dinner in Milan. I'd not yet given a thought to what I could take to wear on this trip. I couldn't just wear that velvet getup for every event. I smiled, remembering my undie-filled suitcase. It reminded me of the famous Maidenform brassiere ads from my youth. That long-running series had featured otherwise stylishly-garbed women who showed up

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without tops, wearing only their bras, as they shopped, strolled, and traveled. I went to my computer and ran a Google search. Yep, I'd remembered correctly. I found one ad captioned, "I dreamed I was a classic beauty in my Maidenform bra," that featured a woman posed against a background of the ruins of the Colesseum. I found another where a woman dreamed of riding in a gondola in her Maidenform. Mama and I used to seek out these ads in our fashion magazines, back in the fifties and sixties. We'd laugh about the improbability of such scenarios. Could that be why she'd giggled in my dream when she'd spied only undies in my suitcase? Should I interpret my dream as Mama sending a hint that I needed to shop for something more heavenly for my upcoming vacation? Even though I wouldn't be traveling with Ken? As I sipped my morning coffee, I thumbed through my newspaper's advertising supplements. Local department stores were staging Presidents' Day weekend sales. One nearby shop pitched up to 70 percent discounts on women's clothing, including plus sizes. I got dressed, slipping on a loose sweater and some stretchy-waisted slacks. I needed to be able to slip in and out of clothes quickly. I'd be trying on a lot of outfits. By the time I climbed into bed that night, I planned to be dreaming that I'd gone to dinner in Rome in my white-pearled navy cardigan. Or to lunch in Florence in a gold-and-blue flowered tunic. Or to The Bridge of Sighs in my maroon-beaded blouse.

continued

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TITLE

"Summer Trip, Ferragosto." Unknown artist. Photo courtesy Max Pixel. I could hardly wait to get to the store. Though I'd never rival Mama or Maria, I could steal a tip from Mother Nature... exuberant colors, luxuriant textures. As Ken said, I needn't always dress as if I were going to a funeral. I could buy myself some clothes worth dreaming about. And, too, just to be safe, a few new bras. Terri Elders

Terri Elders lives in Westminster, CA. "An unusually light sleeper, I'm joyous when I wake up remembering fragments of dreams. Dreaming provides proof to me that I've actually been asleep. As a retired licensed clinical social worker, in psychotherapy I've helped patients probe the meaning of recurrent dreams. As a writer, I treasure my own dreams that inspire me to create publishable fiction and nonfiction."

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OUR UNCONSCIOUS CENSOR

One can train to write down dreams just as soon you wake, when all the myriad details are still fresh, new and clear as a bell— yet is it best to let your built-in censor block when so much is at stake?

Waking up with chewed mouth, gnashing teeth deserves a double take to try and figure out what’s going on in your subconscious, not dwell: one can train to write dreams down just as soon you wake

and confront the subterranean fear as if a waiting rattlesnake coiled in a yawning cavern that’s deeper, more terrifying than any hell: yet is it best to let your built-in censor block when so much is at stake?

Dreams hover during day threaten to surface making for headaches only to evaporate like dew. Why is uncovering such a hard sell? One can train to write down dreams just as soon you wake continued

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so get rid of the hoary, deep oozing fear making you tremble, shake: but your built-in censor is a trench against shattering bombshells— yet is it best to let your built-in censor block when so much is at stake.

Is one a coward not to go ahead and capture dreams, face at daybreak once and for all—end the fear—what could be that awful to dispel? One can train to write down dreams just as soon you wake yet is it best to let your built-in censor block when so much is at stake?

Carol Smallwood

Carol Smallwood is from Mt. Pleasant, MI. "I’ve never been a subject of sleep studies but it would be quite an experience; new breakthroughs in science surely coming will rank with those happening regarding out space. One third of our time involves sleeping and we know so little about it."

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SLEEP VIGNETTES

1. Summer sleep? Think A/C nowadays, whether you want to accept global warming as fact or environmental folderol. I grew up east of the Cascades in the part of Washington state with real seasons and three good months of burn the soles of your feet on the sidewalk sleep in the backyard summer. Moved to big city Seattle on the wet coastal side of the state. One month of summer for years. Two-storey homes? We added fans upstairs or slept in the dank basement that month. Fast forward. I’ve been living in Seattle for over 30 years. Warm summer Seattle for three whole months now. Skip the jokes about rain. Who gets goosebumps in heat in the middle of summer while waiting to drift back to sleep?  Me, that’s who.  As the sweat begins to bead up and I’m lying in the upstairs bedroom, I finally turn off the fan because I can’t sleep with noise. Sweat beads. Evaporates. I perspire and my husband sweats like we’re in a rising rushing creek bed. Goosebumps on my arms and legs. I seldom turn to dreaming even when cortical visions of sleeping in an ice hotel would be refreshing. 

2. The four-year-old granddaughter, Aubrey, considers the hot upstairs office she sleeps in a fair price to pay for an overnight visit with twice as many stories and songs as she gets at her home with three siblings. I wrap her in a fleece throw and we head outside to the front steps. Eyes South. It is a full moon tonight. We recite "I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me" three times.  Eyes North. Aubrey asks for the star song. I sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" twice and we head inside and upstairs to the cot with her sleeping bag.  I read her two llama storybooks and one story about ballerina swan. I say I’m so tired I need to go to bed. She asks for songs. I sing a love song from Oliver. She instructs me to stop, wait to begin singing until her head is on the pillow and her eyes are closed, then count to five. I follow directions, sing "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "Are You Sleeping?" At the doorway, I plead her release me to my sleep. I sing "Let Me Go Why Don’t You Babe" and the Beatles' "Help." Finally,  I dash to my pillow.  Aubrey conks out lickety split.  I  read pages of my own book until I start forgetting what I read and doze off. continued

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Is one a coward not to go ahead and capture dreams, face at daybreak once and for all—end the fear—what could be that awful to dispel? One can train to write down dreams just as soon you wake yet is it best to let your built-in censor block when so much is at stake?

Carol Smallwood

"Fire and Ice." Unknown artist. February 2017. Digital image courtesy pxhere.

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3. The most embarrassing thing about public sleep is that it usually occurs when one wishes to demonstrate alert interest to a poet, to a member of the clergy or to an entertainer.  The young person at the poetry reading said not to worry, you weren’t the only one dozing off. She saw my head droop down the second half of the reading and the telltale head jerk awake. Lyrical poetry is like that. Lulls me to sleep. Slow cadence. Semantic lullaby.

Mary Ellen Talley lives in Seattle, WA. "My relation to sleep?? I can't abstain from sleep in order to complete projects until late in the night as I could in my youth. Plus, I can get on social media and distract myself from my project. In addition, when I do stay up late, there sometimes comes a point, an 'aura' you might say, when I know I'm giving myself a headache for the next day. But I can't complain. I'm two years into retirement, after many years as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the public schools, where I had to manage sleep well so that I could last the long day with students and paperwork. Now I often sleep in until 7:00 am. I shudder to think of my daughter, the mother of four, who has a nursing baby and a snoring husband."

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INSTRUCTIONS FOR A DREAM

Open the window to anonymous night

Decide if you want this night this dream

night of no real season or setting

know that if it wants to come it comes

night with a grove of slender trees

you cannot turn it away cannot

lit by a fingernail arc of moon

        say no

night of momentous silence

Sally Zakariya

         silken air Not night of drab everyday reality not night sounding shriek and blare            of traffic  not night fighting fist/knife/gun            in shadows Expect to learn a wondrous thing moths at the window bearing messages glory and gore equally within your grasp a crowd of intimate strangers whose names          you nearly know a chance to be other than you are

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DREAM POOL

A shimmering pool before me, sleek as a seal I slip into its cool embrace.  Beside me you too are borne along  a deep dream current. Together  we swim our separate laps,  strike out for separate shores.  Am I there, twinned, inhabiting  both your dream and my own?  I'll ask you tomorrow. Sally Zakariya

SALLY ZAKARIYA lives in Arlington, VA. "Sleep is a beautiful gift, and dreams are the silvery wrapping paper. I’ve kept a dream journal for years and have often used dream images in my poetry. My husband, alas, suffers badly from insomnia. He uses a CPAP machine because of sleep apnea and has taken various medications but is concerned about becoming dependent. We’ve found a shower and a little warm milk before bed can help, and we enjoy telling each other about our dreams over breakfast."

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SLEEP

May you fall into it

May you reclaim once or twice

groggy and disheveled as a baby

the gauze-fine sleep of childhood—

who lets go of his mother’s

calmly gliding from flickering shadow

nipple with a thwuck—head lolling,

to light, from flickering light

cowlicks sticking up,

to shadow, like a punt

lips open and glistening.

on a tree-lined river.

May you fall into it

And may your last be utterly

like a drunk keeling

black and quiet,

over onto his own stoop,

and last forever.

having staggered the last possible step on his slog from the bar.

Judy Kronenfeld

May you not stand alone on the shore at 3 a.m., longing to extricate yourself from the gritty sand of consciousness, when everyone you know has been swept out by the sea of sleep.

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5 A.M.

Mired in a dream of dissolution: teeth dangling, bones crazed—then up but not, bodiless as a ghost of mist‌ Your gathering arm, sleep-warm around my waist and the soul condenses back to body and the body knits. Judy Kronenfeld

Judy Kronenfeld lives in Riverside,CA. "There's nothing more healing for me than a long, complete and deep night's sleep. But I've had my share of middle-of-the-night, darkest-before-the-dawn terrors, recognizable or unnameable, as well as middle-of-the-night peaceful surprises."

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DREAMING OF MY SISTER

She shows up unannounced, all chatty,

I only break through to wakefulness, puzzled

friendly, no sign of the rage she’s expressed,

by how many times I’ve dreamed of her

without the coldness inherited from our father.

in recent months, my unconscious stuck

Most recently, she babbled on about books

in early 1972; I’m timid, young, and thin.

she’s reading, tells me what novels I’d like.

Somewhere near, my parents and ex-husband

I lean in and listen, unsure how to respond,

move about. Nixon’s talking on TV.

aware this is out of sync with all I know.

Joan Mazza

I’m wary, sleepy too. When she pauses, I ask her if she’s ever read Anne Perry, though I meant to say Ann Patchett, but she chatters on about other books, doesn’t answer my question, doesn’t give me an opening to correct myself or explain. When she stands next to me, I’m taller. She’s shrunken several inches, though her hair’s still dark. I want to say something, break through this charade, this phony and empty conversation, but

DREAMS HAVE A WAY

of disappearing when we wake. Evaporating in the light and heat thrust into open eyes. Stephen King says they decompose. Some say they fly away to vanish from our memory only to recompose themselves when some key turns the lock to that closed room. A story on the radio about fruit trees, and we say, I dreamed about an apple orchard last night, continued

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just like Aunt Rosa’s trees in Maryland. There were bees and my brothers there, before Vietnam, before… before…. Images and fragments linked by words in a long chain drawn up from the well of sleep and memory and confabulation, an ordering of the story jumbled by the brain’s blender. Smoothed in the telling, a narrative to make new sense, a bright insight of understanding that burns. Dreams have a way of showing us the truth of what we are without the lies we tell ourselves and others, who lie politely in return.

Joan Mazza lives in Mineral, VA. "I have always been a light sleeper, and though I've never been a mother, I wake to the slightest thump or meow. I live deep in the woods of Central Virginia, so it's mostly quiet here except for crow chatter and squirrel squabbles. I rise very early when it's still dark and go to bed at dusk, although I'm no farmer, unless one counts herding words into paragraphs and uprooting memories. Like most people my age, I wake often in the night and recall dreams, which sometimes appear in my daily poems."

Joan Mazza

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FARM DREAM

In my sleep I hold handfuls of wool thick with lanolin yarrow and clover  I roll towards you in our scratchy field of grass shaky legged lambs lean in close obscuring the rising sun they dip their heads to eat  violets and hearts ease  earthbound cumulous clouds  with floppy ears They chew sprigs of goodness and eye us, asleep still dreaming them Elaine Reardon

Elaine Reardon lives in western Massachusetts. "I love sleep. I’ve been on a long-term quest for better sleep, and I’m now rounding a corner both as an avid sleep enthusiast and as a health care practitioner."

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TITLE

"Our English Coasts, 1852 'Strayed Sheep.'" William Holman Hunt. 1852. Public domain.

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MELT

Some nights I close my eyes, relax, relax until I melt into the mattress. Behind my lids I float  with Huck down the Mississippi  or paddle effortlessly through the Boundary Waters, warm sun loosening my muscles and releasing the weight from my frame. One morning a grease stain— head, shoulders, hips and feet— will be all that remains in the bed. Phyllis Wax

Phyllis Wax is from Milwaukee, WI. "I revel in sleep, hate to get out of bed in the morning. Both sleep and dreams have provided inspiration for my poetry."

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THE NEW REST CURE

i remember the week when i got enough sleep it was an experiment to see what life was like with the 8 or 9 hours doctors recommend. weight gain, poor immunity, dead brain cells were among the side effects to be dispensed with. it was a good week; life was happier.  i stopped wanting to cry as i opened my eyes, 

Ann Tweedy lives in Washington state. "Having enough sleep makes me feel happier and more optimistic. At the same time, I am a night owl and tend to have my most productive moments from the late afternoon through the evening, so I have difficulty getting to bed at a reasonable time. This is especially problematic on weeknights, when I have to get up early the next morning to get to work."

no longer stuffed blind fists through sleeves wishing for another life. i had energy to spare when i got home. naps were not the core of fantasy.  i felt smarter. perky was like an old rival  with whom i’d made peace. each day’s  setbacks became corrigible. all those years i’d wondered  why am i so tired?  there was nothing to wonder after that, except how a nimble mind  misses a thing so simple, and now why i didn’t make it last. Ann Tweedy

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THROWN INTO THIS, AS THIS

Sometimes my wife will stir from sleep

A second later she might go “What?” as if

and speak primitive words. This occurs

she were on her toes and just did not hear

often when, in an otherwise quiet room,

what was addressed to her. It is reasonable

there is a sudden noise. A cough or sneeze

that she would fake like this. I am on her

could do it. A bed creak from my shifting

always about falling asleep on a show.

or the cat knocking the lid off the garbage

And I do not merely ask her “You asleep?”

or someone yelling on the TV program.

and “You lyin’?” when she says “No.”

Even her own snores could be enough.

I go “Come on, man. Wake the fuck up!”

What things does she say? Not sentences

So even if earlier I had said goodnight,

usually. A few groggy words. Sometimes

allowing her to succumb without need

her breathing will be steady and soft

to worry about my torment, it is likely

and out of nowhere she will go “Hhmm?”

that she would still be geared up to act

Sometimes the flow of her breathing

like she was awake, like she did not hear

will stop, presumably so that she is able

what was said and just needed me to repeat.

to listen out for some sensed force: a deer

Sometimes, though, she will shoot up with

in the backyard when I tap the window.

“Come on, Maaaaa!” and suck her teeth.

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When she makes these guttural outbursts,

Early in our relationship, such comments

I enjoy fucking with her by making it seem

would jar her. She would seem confused,

that she was in the middle of a conversation.

confused even about who she herself was,

As soon as she makes a noise—indeed,

giving her the impression of being thrown

for the sake of realism, right as she does—

into this, as this person who just spurred

I will go, “No! I’m not doin’ that shit.

someone somehow close to her to yell,

I told you a thousand fucking times.” Or

“Of course I see them as my kids. Why—.

“I agree. But have some fucking empathy!”

Yo. Fuck this. I’m goin’ on the couch.”

To the mommy stuff I will speak as a mom.

Michael Anthony Istvan, Jr.

“Do you know what time it is?! The bus! You’ll miss the goddamn bus!” Or “Cry! Cry ‘til the sun goes down. My daughter will not have black men in this house!” This speaking like a mom is to encourage, of course, the idea that the world supports what happens to be going on in her mind.

From the poet: "Fortunate to have been banjoed to several times by Pete Seeger in elementary school, M. A. ISTVAN JR., PhD was born and raised in what is arguably the psychic hub of North America (New York’s Hudson Valley), where it is not uncommon for a baby’s first words to be futhark or astral. Istvan makes sure that he does not drink hours before bed because having to urinate is a constant disruption to his sleep."

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VESPERAL

Sing me a sleep-song please. a real hurt is soft. —Theodore Roethke Brahms plinks through the dark heat

      Stunned, I stopped crying

from her music box, but the neighbor baby cries,

      and he carried me, and I’d have made

as insistent as her father’s low voice, “...go

      the gasps and sighs quit, but they wouldn’t.

to sleep, shut up... go to sleep, it’s late.”

      He sang, “When day is done and shadows fall,

She knows. And I know,

      I think of you....” I limpened, but could not go.

my third night awake now.

      We went inside, “...that yearning, returning

We both know you don’t go to sleep.

      to hold you in my arms.”  I held out.

       Sweaty and dusty at sunset

      My baby sisters’ breaths hovered.

       I surrendered to the dirt and to tears.

      The dog tickered down the hardwood hall.

       My father, dressed for Saturday night,

      My mother’s dress shookashooka-ed far off.

       smelling cool and aqua, lifted me

      Then he sang Brahms lullaby, blessing

       to his crisp shirt and said,

      all the slumbers and all the wakes

       “You’re tired, honey.  You played too hard,

      I will ever know.

       now you’re too tired to sleep.”

And sleep comes to me.

Diane Kendig

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TITLE

"Angel, Statue, Wing." Bernd. December 2017 photo courtesy Pixabay.

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ACUTE ANGLE

During years of living at a four-way stop halfway between the Rocking U Restaurant and Stoney Ledge Bar, I’d swear the intersection lane markers must’ve meant tear along the dotted lines, but I slept through the breaking, skreeking, ripping away without even dreaming of noise. Now living on a cul de sac so quiet it could be intensive care, I find I’m on the wrong ward, wakeful, reading the labels on canisters and life-support equipment, shuffling hallways like the nurse who closed the gashes of disasters in midnight alleys and salved the friction burns of brains, making her rounds. I shut down the heat till the day crew comes on. When you’re working a double shift, you hold back, like walking in San Francisco, making

Diane Kendig is from Canton, OH. "For the first 36 years of my life, I didn’t sleep much. From a family of sleep walkers and talkers, that seemed fine. In college, people hardly ever saw me asleep, and the one time I took an afternoon nap, a roommate sold tickets to it, as to an event. Then I got a demanding job, wanted, needed to sleep and not being able was horrid. Fortunately, I met a man who slept well and easily, who does a lot of his work (and play) in bed. Reader, I married him. These days, I sleep eight hours, rise up rested most mornings."

an acute angle of yourself. I’m working double shifts these days, the real source of my insomnia, and not, as my comparison suggests, locale. One shift, I do the job. The last eight hours, I do the day again plus the one to come, all on my back, eyes open.  I rise up, feeling I’ve been run over by an emergency vehicle.  You know. You’ve had this job, too. Diane Kendig

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DISRUPTING PRAYERS

Growing up, I was frequently suspended from school for one of two reasons: either fighting a classmate, or sleeping in class. I didn't fit in with the other kids, so any time I had felt insulted by what another kid said to me, it was going to be a fight. When punished for that, I didn't protest the punishment, that I understood through and through. What I didn't get was why they would punish a kid for something relatively small, like sleeping in class. For a long time, I didn't give much thought to my sleeping in class, and really I thought it would be a relief to my teachers, one less issue for them to have to deal with. It would be one less time they wouldn't have to worry about me swinging at another student. Sometimes when other students were acting unruly, it would go unchecked, so it came as a surprise to me when I got punished for being a distraction, when I thought I was minding my own business. In many cases, I had finished my classwork before it happened, so I just decided to lay down. I didn't realize that what I was doing was viewed as rebellious behavior. When I was sent home for sleeping, I felt puzzled considering that it was something I didn't choose to do, I couldn't help myself. No matter what adjustments were made to my sleeping schedule, somehow I would find myself asleep. My family certainly showed that they loved me, I didn't have a tough home life. Most of the time, I appeared to be a happy child, so that didn't contribute to my sleeping. Also, my mother suspected that the depression my father inherited from his father, and grandfather before him, might be soon passed down to me, and that threat was looming overhead like a storm cloud. When entering middle school with that storm cloud over my head, I was still a very good student, but the same two troubles in the classroom persisted. There were many core contrasts between going to the Detroit public elementary school and the private Catholic middle school, one of the differences being that you only had a certain number of fights that you could be involved in before you were kicked out. Each year that a student attended that school, the number went down until it was nonexistent and a fight would mean immediate expulsion. As the number of times I got into physical fights with classmates decreased, my sadness became more visible because I was being picked on with no way to retaliate. My prayers for them to stop would go unanswered, and I became a person who began to question his faith. continued

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Once there was a good catholic boy in me growing up, always saying his prayers when he's supposed to. Baptized and confirmed within the catholic church, I always attended Sunday mass, and even went to Sunday school for a little bit. There was one thing that always haunted me, and still does to this day. That thing is the guilt, for everything. As my problems persisted I just felt more guilty, felt like it was something I had done. I couldn't stop it, especially the sleeping. One time I fell asleep in church and banged my head so hard on the pew that my brother busted out laughing. We tried everything, and every Sunday was like hell for me, because it would only be a matter of time before I would fall asleep again. I tried going to bed early, and that didn't help. I always thought it was my own fault. Why was God testing me this way, was what I thought and that was when the darker thoughts started to creep in my mind. My mom would always pray for me but I seemed like a hopeless cause. My parents found a therapist for me during one of the nights I had grown inconsolable. The common misconception is that many black people don't see therapists, afraid others will think they're crazy for seeking help. My hesitations stayed for a while until I learned that the sleeping, the suicidal thoughts, were all genetic. I was trying to heal a medical issue with spirituality. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, major depressive and narcolepsy.  Often times the common misconception when somebody says they're bipolar is that they are crazy. We often think of people who are bipolar as having multiple personalities. Little do we know that's a totally different disorder lumped up together with it. When I discovered I was bipolar I took it as a death sentence because I like many people categorized it wrong. I didn't know enough about it, I just knew that it was a label that belonged to me. I had a new label to fit underneath. To break it down simply, people who are bipolar mostly deal with manic episodes and depressive episodes. During the times when we are manic, everything feels a little more awesome, we're feeling upbeat and encouraged. When we are going through a depressive episode, everything feels less than stellar and we can 

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become majorly depressed. This usually culminates in a situation of self harm or worse. Worse was what I planned on doing before checking myself in the hospital and receiving this alarming diagnosis. With having major depressive disorder, when I get down it intensifies to astronomical levels. When I told my mom about my diagnosis, because I needed her support, I was shocked to hear that she already knew. She informed me that it ran in our family, that my sister had it and my father before them. These new revelations were surprising to me, that it is something that can be passed down genetically. In my case, it was something I was always destined to have. It can be treated with medication and therapy, but I had never known that I needed it. Now, the choice was up to me, to try to treat it or try to escape it, but I knew I could not face it with prayer. Even still, my mom persisted with her insistence that I needed to form a deeper spiritual connection. With the sleeping, it was a matter I already knew about, being the only person in my family to have narcolepsy, but this was new, a battle that I never knew to think about before. Narcolepsy wasn't a faith-based issue. A chemical imbalance in my brain caused me to fall asleep. We tried medicine for a brief period of time, but the side effects were so bad I just tended to live my life around it. It's a hard struggle, but it's what I have to do to live. I couldn't return to the church, though I still had demons to work out with that. This issue my fellow churchgoers didn't understand and eventually it led to my depressive episodes. In church I was ridiculed for falling asleep. Socially, it was a nightmare and I was instantly outcast because of it. This was a situation out of my control, but nobody wanted to hear that. Even after we got my diagnosis, my mom insisted on going to Sunday mass. Me? I stopped going altogether. Eventually, I denounced my relationship with the church, because that meant that this was destined to happen, that I was supposed to be persecuted this. way. For all of the prayers for me, God had designed me like this on purpose and I needed to figure out why on my own. Devoid of church, I tried to discover the meaning behind that on my own, despite my mothers protests. If I could figure that out, maybe I could figure out why I had a bigger, darker issue hiding behind all of this. Going to school didn't help this scenario. continued

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When my depression resurfaced despite the therapy, my parents thought that maybe the problem was the school. They used my sleeping to their advantage. They transferred me to another school, but when it appeared again they didn't know what to do. One year I disappeared from school for what seemed like a month. I was still at home with my parents, but depression had started eating away at me again and they weren't able to take me back to the therapist anymore. I was ahead of a lot of my classes when I left, so they thought it might be in the best interest of my health to separate me from everyone else. When I eventually returned, there were people surprised to see me. I recall one teacher remarking that they were worried something had happened to me, since nobody knew where I went. A big difference that I had noticed was that the school had hired someone who would teach certain courses to select students in a separate classroom. When she took students away from the general classes to be in their smaller room, she seemingly took kids at random. The day came where she added me into this classroom, and I noticed that many of my peers there had reading or learning disabilities. I still didn't quite understand why I was in there, but I spent most of my time either helping her teach them, or trying to stay awake. Being lumped up with those other students didn't help. It eventually led to my first suicide attempt. That was the first time I tried to harmed myself. I don't remember the specific reason, but I do recall hating myself for some reason. Maybe guilt, maybe shame, maybe a combination of the two, but deep down it was something that I didn't like about myself. Around that time came the struggles with sleeping in school and in church. People kept saying they would pray for me, but honestly, I didn't care, I just knew I had this itch, this urge. I didn't know anything about hospitals because I didn't trust them. I just knew that they had the smell of death on them so bad I didn't want to be by them. Little did I know how much I needed to go to one. I grew up in a world where I was passing as someone that was okay. I often faced punishment for the expectations of others and the conditions they couldn't see. Being a good student often wasn't enough when being a disruption was expected. I also had to be obedient when being myself was seen as an act of resistance. To some extent not much has changed. Although I currently know about my disorders, they are still parts of me I didn't get a chance to choose. They are parts of me I still have to pay for.

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Today, I am about six months removed from checking myself in the hospital, needing to go because that would be my fifth suicide attempt and probably my last.  I just knew that this silent monster was lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. I take medication for it. Sometimes it helps silence the urge, but sometimes it doesn't. My mom still prays for me, and I appreciate it, but at the same time that's the thing that bothers me the most. My mother hopes her prayers will help bring me back to the church, that I will be healed of my afflictions and become her church-going boy again. I don't think it works like that anymore. I also noticed that many other black youth were going through a similar situation as me. TheY were combating medical situations with faith-based logic. That is something you cannot do. Fighting literal diseases with prayer is a common misdeed that we are doing with our youth. That's why many of them don't seek help like I did. They often think that God had their back in these situations, or that they deserved them for one reason or another. If they think that God made them that way, they are instantly shamed and told it is the devil and his creation, and that they should have more faith when that is the biggest fallacy. These spiritual beings, God and the devil... we have no idea what they are or are not doing, or whether they in fact exist. What we do know is that we have chemical imbalances in our brains that need to be treated. We can't pray away these illnesses, and were doing ourselves a disservice if we believe we can. These aren't matters of faith. This is how we were made. We have to treat these as illnesses first and foremost. The constant faith in the church, in reading Bible scriptures, is leading us to go insane or worse. I'm not saying don't pray for us, because we need all the help we can get, but we need more proactive options as well. I don't feel guilty for my diagnosis anymore. I've come to peace with it. My mom still prays for me, and I accept the good intentions of her thoughts and prayers. Finding the answers that I'm looking for has been a difficult struggle. Until I find them, I'm not returning to the church. She watches Sunday mass on television and that's fine. I have no problem with her faith, it has led her to happiness and for that I am thankful. I still fall asleep but now I've gotten smart and I just make my life work around it. The urge still waits in the back continued

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back of my mind. Sometimes I can silence it without the medication. I still take it because my illness can creep up on me at any time. At least now I  know how to correctly treat it. That, at least, let's me sleep at night in peace. Deonte Osayande

Deonte Osayande lives in Detroit, MI. "I tend to listen to my favorite YouTube pages and let them lull me to sleep."

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"Human Graffiti." Tünde. May 2017. Photo courtesy Pixabay.

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Acknowledgments "5 A.M." (p41) originally appeared in 2River View 9 in 2005 and was reprinted in Shimmer by Judy Kronenfeld (WordTech Editions, 2012). "ACUTE ANGLE" (p52) originally appeared in The Places We Find Ourselves by Diane Kendig (Finishing Line Press: 2009). "ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF, REGARDING SLEEP" (p23) by Emily Rose Cole previously appeared in Yemassee in Spring 2016. "DREAM POOL" (p39) by Sally Zakariya previously appeared in Postcard Poems and Prose in September 2016. "DREAMS HAVE A WAY" (p42) by Joan Mazza previously appeared in The Scream Online in 2015. "INSTRUCTIONS FOR A DREAM" (p38) by Sally Zakariya previously appeared in The Ravens Perch in August 2016. "SLEEP" (p40) originally appeared in Avatar Review 17 in 2015 and was reprinted in Bird Flying through the Banquet by Judy Kronenfeld (FutureCycle Press: 2017). "VESPERAL" (p50) by Diane Kendig previously appeared in Thema.

All previously published materials reprinted by permission of the authors.

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2018 call for submissions Vitamin ZZZ seeks creative writing on sleep health, sleep disorders, sleep deprivation, sleep habits, dreams‌ anything directly correlated with the human process of sleep. Writing should explore SLEEP, i.e. personal experiences with diagnosed sleep disorders, people suffering from unexplained or undiagnosed sleep problems, caregivers concerned about the sleep of their patients or loved ones. All perspectives are sought and welcomed: humorous, clinical, personal, spiritual, political, fantastic, familial, experimental, confessional. The voices of healthcare professionals are especially desired. Only the highest quality work accepted. HINT! We could use more prose poems, flash fictions, personal essays, hybrid work, and creative nonfiction. Topics we especially like: sleep disorders (sleepwalking, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm problems, daytime sleepiness, shift work disorder, etc.) or sleep problems related to a second health condition (Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc.). 2018 - early 2019 THEMES NESTING (Fall) (submission deadline EXTENDED TO October 15, 2018) Topics of interest: mattresses, beds, pillows, sheets, bedrooms, comfort, safety, family bed, recuperation/rehabilitation/recovery, "sleeping in" OPEN THEME (Winter 2019) (submission deadline December 31, 2018) Topics of interest: anything related to sleep health, dreams, sleep disorders, or sleep habits HOW TO SUBMIT: See complete writers guidelines at https://sleepyheadcentral.com/vitaminzzz/

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WINTER 2018

THE SLEEPYHEADCENTRAL MISSION

“The SleepyHeadCENTRAL mission is to develop an accessible, accurate, and userfriendly online clearinghouse of sleep news and information. This effort is designed to help educate healthcare consumers on the vital importance of sleep in overall optimal health. My aim as Curator is to give healthcare consumers clear and empowering options to actively address their sleep problems.”                 —Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH

The VITAMIN ZZZ mission

While many learn best about sleep problems through their own research and frank discussion with medical professionals, others may be better served by learning about sleep problems through the creative expressions of those who live with them. Vitamin ZZZ exists to illustrate, through this literary vehicle, how sleep problems truly affect our lives.

TO LEARN MORE: www.sleepyheadcentral.com

Profile for SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com

Vitamin ZZZ [Summer 2018]: "Midsummer Nights"