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The Sleeping Messenger by Daniel Mark Epstein



As if a god had crushed the firmament

Into a glittering ball,

Then spread the chart as a portent,

Heaven is in chaos. Let the prophet

Go blind, he will shed no light on it.


The fishermen weigh anchor, speed

Against the gullsí cry to beware;

The milkmaid sleepwalks to the barn,

The condemned man goes to the chair,

Under a moonless, cold, anarchic sky.


The old messenger has his directions

To warn us of gales at sea,

Rape in the hay, the freak accidents

Of birth and death, faithfully

To bear the valid letter of reprieve.


But time has overtaken him in his course.

His eyelids are heavy with the grief

Of so much failure, so many miles.

Hours away the day dawns on catastrophes

While he sleeps under a crinkled map of stars.



Per Contra Spring 2007