Getting to Sleep in New Jersey by John Stone
Not twenty miles from where I work,
William Williams wrote after dark,
after the last baby was caught,
knowing that what he really ought
to do was sleep. Rutherford slept,
while all night William Williams kept
scratching at his prescription pad,
dissecting the good lines from the bad.
He tested the general question whether
feet or butt or head-first ever
determines as well the length of labor
of a poem. His work is over:
bones and guts and red wheelbarrows;
the loneliness and all the errors
a heart can make the other end
of a stethoscope. Outside, the wind
corners the house with a long crow.
Silently, his contagious snow
covers the banks of the Passaic River,
where he walked once, full of fever,
tracking his solitary way
back to his office and the white day,
a peculiar kind of bright-eyed bird,
hungry for morning and the perfect word.
"Getting to Sleep in New Jersey" by John A. Stone, from Music From Apartment 8: New and Selected Poems. © Louisiana State University Press, 2004.