Scott Beal

Alarm

            “Describe a moment you woke without fear.” —Bhanu Kapil

is without fear a state of wakefulness?

what are the dragons of sleep.
how many parts of my body can be awake at once?
if my tongue rises does my liver drowse?
what comes alert when my heart rests?
when the heart dozes anger dozes, fear
dozes, it is not possible to be
cruel with your heart in its bedroll.

when I wake to sun
when I wake to a warm blanket and slight noise,
            no noise a lot of noise
there is no amount of noise to which fear is
            inappropriate.

every horn, every bird whistling:
someone is near

            and what have they done
with my children,
even if they are my children,
            what have they done with the children
            that were mine before,
and where has mother gone, and where
            grandfather’s war. there is no
            wakeful certainty,

if the wadded paper wiping the counter
and the bowl of frosted wheat mean
I’ve come downstairs and begun a day
in the world
                        then there’s the world
of yesterdays and all the lost keys buried.
there is no waking without the lock.
no click because it never closes,
            never opens.


Scott Beal
is the author of Wait ‘Til You Have Real Problems (Dzanc Books, 2014). His chapbook The Octopus won the 2015 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Contest and was published in 2016. His poems have appeared recently in Pleiades, Cincinnati Review, Linebreak, Forklift Ohio, and other journals. He teaches in the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan and co-hosts the monthly Skazat! reading series in Ann Arbor.




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