Sleeping with the Window Open

I used to sleep with the window open.


The washed out yellow street light
Standing sentinel at the corner next to my driveway
Throws wild shadows on my shelves and walls
That are occasionally stretched into thin waving lines
As the bright pale blue light of the patrolling cop’s
Fluorescent headlights roll past my yard.
The silent murmur of the woods holds sway
Broken by a passing car on a distant highway,
The echoing sirens of a police car needed somewhere quick,
Or the mournful blare of a train lost somewhere in the hills.

Eventually, though, the silence returns again,
Stronger now with the sound of crickets
Soon to lose themselves in the quiet
As your ears readjust to the heartbeat
Of this calm little community at night.
You check your doors before bed
Because someone broke into a car across the street,
But you leave your bicycle on the porch
And you leave your grill on the deck
Because you know this sleepy village will always be
Just another little town away from the city.


I liked to sleep with the window open.


The night is more colorful now, and no longer washed out.
The shadows stand in sharp relief as the streetlight,
A harsh white thing that chases shadows into hiding,
Rules the night until the quiet hiss of rubber on asphalt
Announces the pale blue wash of cruiser headlights,
Sometimes accompanied by flashes of warm red and bright blue,
As it patrols the once empty streets
Looking for something you’re sure it’ll never find.

The quiet of the night is a furtive thing,
Sneaking into your ears between cars ripping down the highway
In a desperate bid for freedom and exultation,
Now chased by the echoing whine of sirens
Seeking to restore a peace they’ve irrevocably shattered.

The mournful honk of lost trains echoes in the hills,
Adding a heart-wrenching note to the quiet song
Played by the ambulance creeping up the street,
No sirens, as the need to hurry has passed
And only the cold white and sorrowful red light
Mark the passage of one more life from here to there.

You check your doors before bed, and your garage for good measure,
Hoping to find some sign of the life you used to live
Or some guest who showed up at your door
Despite the patrols and warnings to keep away.
This sleepy little town tosses and turns
As it tries to find the cool spot on the pillow
And a place to put its arm as it chases elusive rest,
Hoping this time, when it shuts its eyes,
It wakes from this slow-motion nightmare.


I still keep the window open.
I just don’t sleep anymore.

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