Ghazal For a Fallen Nation
It’s tough when it’s all just conspiracy shit
that they’ve beamed down from the mothership.*
In America friendships are split when friends
raise the flag on the wrong color ship.
The neighbor boy whose suicide we lament
idolized his granddad’s warriorship.
My bluegrass buddy wound up on a vent,
he mistook reading Facebook threads for scholarship.
It is forbidden to speak of politics when in bed
rocking the waves of my lover’s hips.
My dad sang God Bless America at every event.
Like Irving Berlin he treasured his citizenship.
* Quote from the August 1, 2023 filing indicting former President Trump
Another Fucking Poem About Insomnia
I pass the night picking digits off the clock
in ones and twos, counting cricket chirps on my fingers,
trying to remember a line from a poem I’d yet to write,
not remembering if I took out the trash. By 3 AM,
the covers strewn and sheets tangled at my knees,
my head hurts from thoughts like squirrels scritching
at each other, bounding off walls, like a thousand pingpong
balls. At four I stick the numbers back on the clock—the five
and then the six—and when the alarm goes off at seven, I am
grateful I don’t remember falling asleep. Outside my office
window the drone of bees in the hibiscus flowers drowses me,
makes me think I could nap. I can’t nap.
I don’t know how to let things happen without me—
what if I miss a breaking news headline or the flash
of that line of poetry I’ve waited for? And here it is midnight,
again, and I am afraid—to go up to bed, knowing I will be obsessed
picking those red-hot digits from the clock again. And as the bee
sleeps in the hive and the hibiscus petals
are wrapped tight for the night, I am kept awake,
listening for that drone of sleep that never comes.
Dick Westheimer lives in rural southwest Ohio. He is a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist. His poems have recently appeared in Whale Road Review, Innisfree Journal, Gyroscope Review, Banyan Review, Rattle, Ritual Well, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, and Cutthroat. His chapbook, A Sword in Both Hands, Poems Responding to Russia’s War on Ukraine, is published by SheilaNaGig. More at www.dickwestheimer.com