Sometimes a poem wakes you up in the middle of the night.
Like a baby kicking, it’s inside you, dancing with its own consciousness, until you must throw open your eyes and acknowledge its existence.
These are the poems we can only meet in darkness. These are the poems that grow from forgotten feelings, as old thorns work their way to the surface. They come from the pain we pressed down because Life is good now, and yet somewhere inside it stayed, coiled and living, until deep in dreams and surrounded by the softness of our present, it could slither up and out.
Poems are weird like that: how they seem to coalesce out of quantum spaces. We can’t think them into being. They have to be ready, mixed up in God’s soup—a place so magical and unknowable, we feel we must name it to keep control.
And so: Here they come—these words from the ether (as soon as I think I’m done releasing the shame stories of my past…as if it’s all gonna be sunrises and love songs from here on out…) Here they come—these words of memory strung together like a tied-up package, needling me awake, tossing me on my pillow.
I obeyed. 3:24AM and I crept down the hall to my pen and paper and released the words, like an exhale I didn’t know I was holding—letting them unroll from my half-conscious mind and laying them down so I may return to sleep.
A Man Never Comes Hot to Me
by Skye Nicholson
I sit here tracing fingers down the striped shadows
of Chicago and Damen—a midnight wasteland
washed in artificial starlight.
Beneath my window, a whore
sweeps shoe-dirt from her sidewalk.
Humming songs composed in a crackpipe,
she prepares her threshold for another Prince Charming
If the wine hadn’t woken me,
I wouldn’t even know you were missing.
This and other poems of shadow and light will be featured in my upcoming book, Unexpected Alchemy: Poems of Addiction and Awakening (with illustrations by Cheryl Liz Byers), which will be available for purchase on Amazon in January 2022!