October 15th, 2017 12:50 a.m.

During the dark morning hours, the time when my eyes are cloudy and my muscles ache, I worry about losing you in space. My gut lurches with that feeling people get when they’re holding a helium balloon and lose their grip — there’s no more control of that umbilical string, and what was once an extension of them drifts into the atmosphere. In the glow of street light coming through my blinds, I imagine you floating toward the stars. It’s a slow ascension, yet you’re just out of reach. Your crown catches moonlight and shines like the long hairs I pull from my clothes, the ones that clog our bathtub and live in between the fibers of everything.

After I turned off your brain for the first time, I noticed how the buzzing of electricity that’s normally in the room ceased to insense me. I felt stillness. It was like the green desolation that lingers after heavy rain, when the quiet is fragrant. You had pleaded in the way you always do before bedtime. But the back of my eyes felt like fire. I was close to chewing through my tongue. More… “Our Sleep at the Onset”

Aaron White holds an MA in Literary Studies from Eastern Illinois University and contributes to Bluestem Magazine as an assistant nonfiction editor. His work has appeared in Mothers Always Write, Parent Co, 13th Dimension, Prong & Posy, The Pedestal Magazine, and other publications. He spends his days raising a toddler, navigating academia, trying to sell a novel, and wallowing in obscurity. Connect with him on Twitter @amwhite90 and Tumblr at


Can poetry cure insomnia? I’m having a terrible time sleeping lately.

— Alex M.

Hmm, I’m not sure. Whenever I can’t sleep and I think about poetry, I get too excited. I either have to get up and write for hours or sketch several poetry-inspired tattoos that later my husband will beg me not to affix to my bicep. Reading is always an excellent way to cope with insomnia, and I think that the best poems to read when you can’t sleep are epics. If you’ve already read the classics, let me direct you to a couple of contemporary poems that may do the trick:  Derek Walcott’s Omeros — which is truly an epic at more than 300 pages across seven books — revisits Greek myth and branches out to explore the slave trade and Caribbean history. If you want try a smaller bite first, I recommend Peter Jay Shippy’s… More…


Insomnia might feel like a punishment from the gods, but it is generally thought to be a mind-body problem. While your body would like to sleep, your mind is much more interested in listing every thing you need to do tomorrow. But there’s a difference between a bad night’s sleep and a night of insomnia.

There is no negotiating with insomnia — you are at the mercy of your brain’s whims, like a pregnant vegetarian who finds herself eating slices of bologna slathered in jam. Thus the thrashing in bed (which makes us so popular with loved ones) begins: “I want to be on my left side. Wait, that is not quite right. Put your right arm up a bit. Now, uh, bend your left knee and put your left hand under your pillow. No, bend your knee… More…