Insomnia


Stephie used to leave notes to Charley
beside her prosthetic breasts:
I’ve gone to bed, enjoy yourself.

Once she stenciled a bumble bee
near her dusky lip-colored nipple.
Honey, you’re the best, she wrote.

He had Stephie cremated, but not
the yellow and black-striped bug — 
a picture of himself.

Like Stephie, I left notes for Julia
about the snaggle-end of my wrist,
its paw kicked off by a horse —

the new hand sewn on as if forever
trying to greet someone — its former
grasp lost inside her tremble.

I can’t sleep. It’s yours.


The 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry
FOURTH PLACE

We are pleased to announce this poem as the fourth place winner for the 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and chooses the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.


Barrett Warner is the author of the poetry collections, Why Is It So Hard to Kill You?(Somondoco, 2016) and My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014). He recently returned from a 25-year break from fiction, and new stories have appeared in Salamander, Gargoyle, Yemassee, The Adroit, and Quarter after Eight. Other awards include the Cloudbank, Liam Rector, and Princemere Poetry Prizes, the Salamander Fiction Prize, and the Tucson Book Festival Essay Prize for his memoir, My Thousand-Year-Old Disease. Last year, he received an Individual Artist grant from the Maryland Arts Council, which he used to finance his move to South Carolina to get away from everything. In April, he made his stage debut as the burglar Selsdon Mowbray in a revival of Noises Off at the Aiken Community Playhouse. Long on street and country, Warner supplemented skills acquired in the 1980s from off-road journalism, where his beats included NASCAR and horse racing, with an MFA from a small college in North Bennington, Vermont.

This poem was previously published in Why Is It So Hard to Kill You?

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