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Friday, January 17, 2020


by Jen Schneider

A man has been left seriously injured after the tent he was sleeping in was removed by an industrial vehicle in Dublin. The man, who is believed to be homeless, was taken to St Vincent's Hospital, where he is reportedly being treated for "life-changing" injuries and remains in a serious condition. The incident, which took place at Wilton Terrace near the city centre of the Irish capital, happened on Tuesday afternoon. —ITV News, January 15, 2020

The Toronto Homeless Memorial now includes the names of more than 1,000 people who died while homeless; a grim milestone that some advocates say underscores the extent of Toronto’s poverty crisis. —CP24, January 14, 2020

In my dreams, the Butterflies dance – 
Monarchs, Swallowtails, and Brush-Footed Beauties.  
Flittering specks of crimson, pale pinks, warm yellows – 
like the cotton patchwork quilt I use to warm myself
as Night falls.

In my dreams, the Radio sings – 
Ellington, Bach, Armstrong
Sweet, sometimes off-beat tunes of jazz, hip-hop, classical notes – 
like the lyrics of childhood verse I sing to calm myself
as Night falls.

Sleep is a Noun, much like any other
until it’s Not:
Regenerative blocks of eight hours, cycles
of REM, light, and deep slumber.
Wakefulness, too.

Sleep is a Verb, much like any other
Until it’s Not:
Engagement in a nightly ritual
of rejuvenation. Eyes close. Muscles relax.
Consciousness suspends, too.

Sleep is a Basic Necessity, much like any other
Until it’s Not:
The lowest, most fundamental tier
of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs turned Off.
Out of reach - a victim of city regulations, zoning boards,
and inked signs informing us of our camps’ demise.

What happens when the steps—Maslow’s, City Halls, 
Bus Terminals—turn off. The music stops playing. 
The dreams turn sour. Strips of yellow and black
ribbon turn bedtime into a nightly scavenger hunt. 
With no treasure or prize.

I’m told we’ve made the News.
Sometimes dreams do come true. Childhood fantasies 
of my name on Billboard Lights.
Arms sway as I belt out verse of the Masters, 
dance with the Monarchs, and look Up to the Heavens.

My focus, now – Down – to the Concrete - for a place to rest.
Down by the Rec Center. 
Down near the Church. 
Down under the Bridge.
A folksong gone wrong, with lyrics all my own.

Sleep is Talk Show Filler, much like any other
Until it’s Not.
Tips, Tricks, and Strategies in the form 
of downloads, software applications and endless talk
of background noise and strict schedules.

What happens when the background noise –
Roaring Interstates, Tree Lined Highways, Dark Tunnels 
is the Bedroom?

What happens when the schedules – 
City Collection Trucks, Patrolling Officers, Slow Moving Vans 
are the Nightmares?

Sleep is…
Shivers turned to blankets of fuzzy warmth.
Arms wrapped around tired bones.
Lights off on social experiments gone wrong.

Until it’s Not. When the lights stay on and the arms arrest.
Sleep simply Ceases to Exist.

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Her work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.