Sleep

by Tom Allen
poets.org
Honorable Mention, July 2008
Judged by Tony Barnstone


As when an old moose
with wolves hanging
from his ankles and rump
and wolves grabbing
for his face
bulls his way bleeding
to the edge of the lake
and with all
his last strength
inch by inch
fights to get deeper in
until the wolves
have to let go
and at last he stands
up to his nose
in red water
and watches the pack
wandering helpless on shore
falling back into the trees
watches with eyes
from which terror
is draining


The extreme, elaborate metaphor is one that tempts one to say, "hold on, now" but ultimately works as a bravado move and makes this small poem work powerfully, with each short, packed line struggling down the page like the bull moose deeper into the water. Whew! And I thought I had sleep problems! --Tony Barnstone

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