Poetry: Brett Fletcher Lauer

The Gentle Sleep

Empty I slept, remembering how others
feared sleep, feared the likeness between

a fading consciousness and permanent
escape drifting out past smoke, past particles

of last-call conversations. It’s uneasy
this waking life, but drugs work quickly

not quickly enough. Empty I slept through
fog horns, birth names, and the Midwest

through a darkness that favors a future
with a limited preview, an alias for everything

in every form, position, and time, and then
it’s reproduction. We should agree this

wakefulness is an irritation and thus I slept,
remembering myself as odds and ends,

as the general sadness of German folk ballads,
slept regardless of meals late in the day, of undue

quantities of tea, or the mental activity connected
to business or debts. Empty I slept through

the state funeral and the various rites of passage
with a customary fear of all imaginary things.


Brett Fletcher Lauer is the managing director of the Poetry Society of America and the poetry editor of A Public Space. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.