Sleepwalk by Guy Yasko


From behind broken glass the morning sky reads time to go. The
Undergraduate pulls himself off his mattress and splashes himself with
cold water from the sink above the stairs. On his way down from the
attic he steps only above the risers, stepping easier once out the door
and on concrete. He heads up the street, across the schoolyard, on to
the footpaths through the park. The sequence and spacing of mud and
puddles reminds him he used the same paths as a schoolboy. Past the
park, he walks the alleys, envying intact carriage house windows,
savouring the solitude of the walk.


Middle-aged and long since graduated he can not shut off his mind. It
skitters from worry to worry, pain to pain: children, work, no work,
money, women, worry itself. There is no question of sleep; he sits awake
if only to keep his mind on other things. He goes to bed when his body
can no longer support itself.

Head on pillow, he retrieves memories of the attic room and the view of
the winter sky. He intends to move sequentially: from window to sink to
cold water… the iron stains under the taps, the steps from the attic,
the girl who read to him when he was sick. He walks through alleys,
savouring each carriage house, bisecting each memory with more intricate
detail, never arriving.

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Filed under Guy Yasko

8 responses to “Sleepwalk by Guy Yasko

  1. How often we remember things more fondly than when we lived them! Nice.

  2. Such yearning. Beautifully written.

    Your cat on paper bag is splendid. Peace…

  3. guy

    Many thanks for reading and commenting, Linda and ganymeder. It’s always appreciated.

  4. stephen

    i like this piece, especially the last paragraph.
    it took me a couple reads to see that the first part stays in frame…it’s a difficult balance to maintain, the discreteness of a memory-self or a condensation relative to the self that is remembering or being-condensed. i think it works. my only question is about the word “envying.”

    nice piece.

  5. guy

    Steve — Yeah, it was hard to keep the three people (schoolboy, undergraduate, the older insomniac) discrete yet interrelated, but that was also what was interesting about writing it. I also find this one curiously difficult to read, even to go back to, at least at this point. Anyway, is the problem in the desiring subject implied by ‘envying’ or the sound of the word — it’s not an easy one to say. I’d probably trip over ‘envying intact’ — both? something else?

  6. stephen

    i’m not sure exactly. i think that’s the moment where i wasn’t sure the segment was remaining in frame.
    it may well be just my perspective, though. i’ve been playing layering & i think i see it as an extension of simultaneous but discrete sonic figures which means the pianist part of my brain kicks in and gets all obsessive about maintaining boundaries/edges between registers (because with piano the problem is all the motion blurring together in ways that’s unlikely with text–whence the problem of pianist-brain kicking in). so let me think about this a bit more & see if that’s all there is to it.

  7. Kelly Grotke

    I like very much how the piece weaves together sequences, spaces, and awarenesses

  8. Pingback: Week #15 – Sleep « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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