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Astro Site Safari

Colm O'Shea

Our tourguide whispers to the mic:

Astrocytes are brain cells, 

secreting adenosine to make us sleep—

Astro sites. I always knew: 

the stars sing us to sleep, sponsor this safari.

So many species of somnia slumbria to check off my list. 

Hard to believe they share a common ancestor.

To my right, the napping of babies, 

curled cloth and powder-warm.

To my left, the torpor of lovers 

in their rigid tangle of roots.

A cat and dog doze in the sun, 

supine in a summer suburb.

The pets are a pair of long matryoshka dolls, 

dreams within dreams, stretching back 

to grey winter wolves, golden fall lions.

It’s a nice way to roll out, with a friendly tour, 

on a bus that takes its time.

Look: a meditation of toads, a-buzz with thoughts of flies.

Edison, curled twitching in his inventor’s basket,

sleeping the short shifts of the compulsive dreamer.

Narcoleptics, numb at their steering wheels, 

plough blissful paths through every picnic in the park.

We steer clear of that one 

giant figure stalking the horizon—Insomniac. 

Don’t look at him directly, fizzing, blazing, 

burning himself out with the sun. 

How long can you stay awake before you die?

Darker, as we enter the hibernation of bears—

an abyss, deeper than ocean

when there was nothing but ocean.

Even the whale cathedrals are silent now.

I can hear the adenosine lapping at the hull,

our wheels spinning free. 

Colm O'Shea teaches essay writing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. The first thing he ever wrote for pleasure was a poem. His poetry has been anthologized in Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century (Bloodaxe Books), his spec-fic novel Claiming De Wayke is available from Crossroads Press, and his study on Buddhist metaphysics, schizophrenia and modernism, James Joyce's Mandala, is available from Routledge. Visit him at

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