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You Wake Up Sometimes

Five Poems

By Ryan Van Winkle

You Wake Up Sometimes

just wondering where Lyle is.

It isn’t normal,
this kind of distance.

Falling Asleep at Night, Waking Up in the Morning

How does rain feel to a small dog?

How do we know what the sand castle means or what the waves say?

How can I hear if you don’t

Listen, I know. Waking up to the sound of footsteps and heavy breathing.
Waking up to Locomotion, The Clash, Kafka and coffee.

Waking up to me. How do we
get up in the morning? There are such
fantastic drugs in your pillow.

Last night I slept on it and I
turned a pretty profound color.

The color was a Turkish yellow and I
passed a corner shop where Surrealism stopped me and asked for a quarter.
“Fuck you,” I snarled, “Get real.”

Surrealism laughed like a broken
watch melting over ice cream.
He gave me the finger.

As the hash, or
whatever stash is in that pillow,
turned my fingers into blades and my palms
into teachers —
I woke up.

Quite bored, actually. But,
full of sweat, none the less.

And, none the less, you were gone.
Like good AM radio.

How do I know? How could I
not know? Why were there coffee stains
on the sheets?

Why was Surrealism begging for change?

It’s why you left, isn’t it?
Sick of coffee — you wanted tea
Sick of footsteps
Sick of waves
Sick of sandcastles
Sick of Clash
You wanted two
pens, one feather
and a good book.
No need for libraries.
No need for small change.
I change the radio to FM and wonder who listens
to dance music at 8 a.m. on Monday. Then I remembered

Drugs. Like your hair. Music. Feathers.

Without the drugs I’ve been sleeping gray.
But somehow
your color tattooed me last night.
I woke up purple
to the sound of AM
to the sounds of footsteps
moving away
To the sound of rain
like waves
And the tic-tic-toc of
a melting watch.


Today I saw a girl who laughed like you.

It wasn’t funny.


My fingers are on fire. Put
them in the cool well of your mouth.

Let them linger like the cinnamon sticks you
cared for as a child.

I can feel the ruins of castles on the smoothness of your bottom lip.


The Heineken tastes like electric tin in Scotland.

It’s a brutal blow to our youth.
A kick in the nuts of our 17-year-old selves.

A blowtorch to the tits of every
cavalry ride we made to New Haven.

Spanish Maria
didn’t care if we were 21 or 12.

Mom’s green Taurus parked in the ghetto.
The MGD and Heineken in her trunk.

We’d fly out of the urban degradation like heroes.
We rescued the beer and were bringing it to the ’burbs.

It was going to have a better life.

We drank some on the bridge towards home. Tossed
the empties on Scabby Maggie’s lawn, howled all night long
loving those green necks.

And here this beer tastes like shit.

And this is why I drink beer:
because the memory of you, Pete,

your hand on the tape deck and
Clark’s head out the window tossing his bottle,

Paul tearing up the mail in the back seat
and me wondering if the folks will notice the dent.

I drink for the memories.
I drink this shit beer because it’s cheap here.

The copper penny taste is a wolf fang straight through the heart
of our only great love,