There are only a few numbers I know by heart, these days

And I used to talk to you all the time.

Now I can’t tell if I’m hearing dial tones or just a busy signal.
Maybe you’re wondering the same thing. 

Do you prefer to text?
I’m better at writing my voice, anyways. Yet –

Stricken dumb as a priest, deaf as a disciple.
How I long to be a talking donkey.

Our Father, I am speechless.
Deliver us from Evil?

Deliver me from cutting off my own ears.

Painting: Rosalyn

Rosalyn

This landscape was painted from memory with acrylic paint. My professor had challenged us to abstain from using paintbrushes, so I used my fingers and a palette knife.

Songs (for you) if you can’t sleep

Insomnia. I’ve experienced it off and on ever since I was young, for varying reasons. As an adult, it was often a partner to stress-induced anxiety. Because that’s when you really need insomnia, when you’re already in a constant state of “tired,” right? I just struggle to turn my brain off at night sometimes.

One method that I’ve developed to help myself out is listening to a specific playlist of music. Sometimes, by playing music from my iPhone near my head, I’m able to focus on what I’m listening to instead of my thoughts and essentially lull my mind to sleep.

I use a short playlist that I rearrange every now and then depending on what songs I most want to listen to, and I never put it on shuffle. Apparently, if my mind knows exactly what order the songs are going to come on, it relaxes more–I suppose it makes sense, because there’s sort of an anticipation aspect with the shuffle mode, and anticipation has no proper place in trying to fall asleep. My brain also prefers to know that the playlist is short so that the phone won’t be on for hours throughout the night. Conservative Brain. I typically start out with a song that has words, so I start to focus on the lyrics. The songs progressively become less inhabited by a voice, as well as softer in tone and slower in tempo.

I’ve used this method often enough to keep two playlists on my phone for these nightly occasions: one playlist that contains all the songs that I’ve used for falling asleep, and another that contains a short list of the ones I’m currently preferring.

So I thought that I’d share some of my favorites, in celebration of the songs that have helped me sleep and in case anyone is in need of something like this. I know I’m not the only insomniac out there.

  1. “Twinkle” by Tori Amos, Boys for Pele
  2. “Atlas Hands” by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
  3. “The Sun and the Moon” by Mae, The Everglow
  4. “This Place is a Shelter,” by Ólafur Arnalds, Living Room Songs 
  5. “Poland” by Ólafur Arnalds, Another Happy Day
  6. “Rosyln” by Bon Iver & St. Vincent, The Twilight Saga: New Moon 
  7. “The Houses of Healing” by Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Complete Recordings
  8. “You Belong to Me” (cover) by Jason Wade, Shrek
  9. “Come; Follow” by Great Awakening, Songs in Secret
  10. “The Bells” by From Indian Lakes, Acoustic EP
  11. “MLK” by U2, The Unforgettable Fire
  12. “Flótavik” by Sigur Rós, Med Sud Í Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
  13. “The Journey to Greyhavens” by Howard Shore,  The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Complete Recordings
  14. “You Are My Home” by The Sleep Design, All that is not Music is Silence
  15. “The Dirt (Alpha)” by Showbread, Nervosa
  16. “Possibility” by Lykke Li, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
  17. “All Alright” by Sigur Rós, Med Sud Í Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
  18. “Deora Ar Mo Chroi” by Enya, A Day Without Rain

Do you have any experience with this, or have your own songs for conjuring calmness? Let me know; I’d love to check them out.

the fog gives way to golden; it’s all the same

Everything is smooth,

Smooth as a mountain drive through coastal fog
the redwoods surrounded by
slow-dancing ghosts
embalming to the point you can’t remember
where the sky should be

Smooth as the even breathing you sustain
even beneath the velvet weight upon your ribcage
whether it’s his
or just life
itself

Smooth as the perfect tattoo on his forearm
the black ink blended matte into
skin pulled taut and warm
musculoskeletal and
dully mysterious

Smooth as the condensation arriving like
electrically melodic
guitars
mist that drips clear dew onto the ferns reaching
from the side of the road

Smooth as his voice crooning on
how nothing is fixed
at all
but what a relief to be bittersweet
and aware

Smooth as the murmur of what endures after
how you can notice the broken glass in the corner and
still
drift
away

Smooth as sunlight dripping sheer
gold
through the window shade
sad transparent smiles bent into couch cushions
where you somehow fell asleep

Type Five

The Summer Moon sinks, tiredly
Meteor showers stay their votive fire
Careful, now
The forest has a mind to swallow your shadows.

Yet you whisker twitch, fly off into the night
Hellbent archangel
You snarl when I hunt you down
Snap back like you’re singed,

Like I’m baring fangs instead of faery giggles
Starstruck at the sky, saying
Let’s backpack to Saturn, baby
Across the moons, baby —

I’d sew my body to yours.
I’d stitch my spine to your fingertips.
I’d braid my hair around your heart.
Am I such a burning ambush? 

You’re biting the hand that feeds you, baby.