David Salner

Slum-Summer Headache



It brushes at the edge of sleep, whispers to me

of something shadow-like, until I sense

the parting of a veil suspended in a room

immense and cold; then footfalls, soft

as a breath, emerging from the night,

crossing a ballroom made of glass, pausing

before a door—I hear it tap, tap

gently at first, not wanting to disturb, a purr

of muffled knuckles—I try to answer, can’t,

some flaw in me, a dream

gone haywire—then drumbeats, an insisting,

a buffeting of dead-blow fists,

a rage upon the wood, until I know

how this will end, a breaking-in, a final

splintering of the door of sleep . . . .

I fight with it till 5 a.m., get up to shake it,

sheets soaking, a fever starting, stoking

in this airless room. I turn off my alarm

and hoist the airshaft window, inhale

the dawn, praise as I breathe

the rot and mold of last night’s rain.

David Salner is the author of three collections of poems, the just-published Blue Morning Light (Pond Road Press, 2016), Working Here (Rooster Hill Press, 2010), and John Henry’s Partner Speaks (WordTech, 2008). His poetry has appeared in Threepenny Review, Poetry Daily, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, River Styx, and previous issues of Innisfree Poetry Journal.



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