Spring 2021, Volume 30

Poetry by Al Maginnes

Light Pollution

It’s likely we never sleep fully.
            Science says the lights

of our devices, aglow with recharging,
            fracture the dark we need, burrow

beneath our eyes, beneath the bone-deep sleep
            bodies need. So we wake, cramped

and sore, brains already buzzing. We blame weather,
            age, bad food for our fatigue

as we reach for our phones like smokers stretching
            to swallow the first puff of the day.

There are nights I come awake in the electricity
            of 3 am, feel the junctions in my body

jangle, circuits burning, all the crossed wires
            of my skeleton and soft organs snapping

response to the glow of phone and computer,
            the passionless start of television.

Like most, I’m tethered to the surge
            and voltage of this dimension

and swim up from sleep a few times each night.
            Sometimes I get up to pee, then start

out the window where streetlights cast their glow
            and join the globe of light

that smothers all the little darknesses
            we close our eyes to hide from.




BIO: My eighth collection of poetry, Sleeping Through the Graveyard Shift, was published last spring by Redwing Press. My seventh book, The Next Place, was published in spring of 2017 by Iris Press. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Plume, Lake Effect, American Journal of Poetry, Tar River Poetry and many other places. I live in Raleigh NC and have recently retired from teaching.