Transatlantic, 3:00 AM
Not awakened by fear or the infant’s hunger,
the tables and systems, the compounding debt,
the spasm in the leg or the headache that follows you,
nor by the formula split open, the long-sought insight,
the forgotten lover glimpsed in the alchemy of the dream,
the dear friend called back,
the rich seam the miner chances upon like a fate,
but only by this trick of the hours.
Isn’t this why you’ve come?
To take your share of the loneliness
of those whose occupation it is to wait,
the clerk and night warden, the thief and orderly,
the beggar and miser, the card counter
conning his livelihood from the dull sequence?
Later, you will lash yourself to the rigging of sleep,
and the day will rise like a sullen continent
where noon is weighted like a crate of fruit
and every monument carefully restored.
But here your mind tries the sheer face
of the future and finds no fingerhold.
Falling, you are free from the flowers and statutes,
the wheels and notations, the tools shaped like weapons,
the come-on and the affront of strangers looking away.
Greg Vargo lives in New York City where he teaches British literature at City College. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including the Chicago Review, Green Mountains Review, Iowa Review, and Prairie Schooner. He has work forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review and Canteen.
“Transatlantic, 3:00 am” appears in our Autumn 2011 issue.