“The Beautiful No” by Bruce McRae

2022 Best of the Net Nominee

You begin drifting off,
soothed by sleep’s sirens.
By the cradle
rocking in your mind.
A tuneless lullaby
pouring out of the woodwork.

Your eyes are weighed
down with building rubble.
A curtain is falling
in your world-weary dreams.
Your eyelids are guttering candles.

Someone once said
sleep is like climbing
under a barbwire fence.
That sleep is an island,
the undressed rehearsal
for a larger death.
Someone once went to bed
and never returned.

You continue nodding,
the executioner’s basket
crying out for your head,
his pillow welcoming
the explorer home
from the farthest bournes
of light’s bright empire.

Now, pigeons cooing.
Somewhere, dunes whispering
Old sleepyhead.
Everything’s closing,
night’s blizzard moving in,
the snowdrifts shifting,
the wind hissing up more wind,
its kisses numberless.

At the last hurdle
a dream stumbles,
its message unclear –
what is it saying
that only the heart can hear?

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with poems published in hundreds of magazines such as Poetry, Rattle, and the North American Review. His books are: The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy (Cawing Crow Press), Like As If (Pski’s Porch), and Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

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