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The Things That Keep Us Up at Night

Can't Sleep.Dadu Shin

Meditation on Ruin by Jay Hopler

It’s not the lost lover that brings us to ruin, or the barroom brawl,
or the con game gone bad, or the beating
Taken in the alleyway. But the lost car keys,
The broken shoelace,
The overcharge at the gas pump
Which we broach without comment — these are the things that
eat away at life, these constant vibrations
In the web of the unremarkable.
The death of a father — the death of the mother —
The sudden loss shocks the living flesh alive! But the broken
pair of glasses,
The tear in the trousers,
These begin an ache behind the eyes.
And it’s this ache to which we will ourselves
Oblivious. We are oblivious. Then, one morning—there’s a
crack in the water glass —we wake to find ourselves undone.

Artwork by Dadu Shin

Discussion

4 comments for “The Things That Keep Us Up at Night”

  1. Petra says:

    I love this poem, Wendy. It is true–it is not the great traumas that fell so many of us, but the cumulative effect of the small irritations, mildly felt slights, the prickly annoyances, the simmering unfairnesses*, that can send us crashing into rages and tears. Jay Hopler addresses this so beautifully and so well. I have to bookmark this so that I can return to it again. The artwork is so well matched to the poem, too.

    * Not sure if that’s an actual word, but if not, it is now. Language is dynamic, after all.

  2. Christine says:

    I love this. The cadence – especially in the opening -seemed so familiar. Rilke, I think [I only read in English.]

  3. wendy says:

    This poem resonates with me every time I read it.

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