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  • By Dean Z. Douthat

Graveyard Shift


By morning's light, my new-born brain's athrob

With truth's half-lie and lying words half-truth.

To sort them out becomes the day's first job

Lest they slip back unasked to sleep's dark booth.

They answer not, they vaporize as dew

Retreats before the sun's advance and day's

Old shopworn cares their worn demands renew

'Til numb, my brain for sleep devoutly prays.

Close-order, precision sub-brain drill teams

March like maggots through mildewed perceptions

And gnaw soft flesh down from new-killed daydreams

To bone-hard immaculate conceptions.

If I just knew which bones to keep or toss

The world's acclaim would cover me, like moss.


Dean Z. Douthat is a retired engineer residing in a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan

4 comments

4 Comments


ajsedia
Nov 07, 2022

This is a well-crafted sonnet with some very skillful turns of phrase (the second line is my favorite). It also explores a subject both deeply intimate to the narrative voice and at once readily identifiable to any reader. Superb artistry!

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jm6783685
jm6783685
Oct 25, 2022

Dean seems to have nailed a very familiar experience which doesn't often get a lookin when it comes to literature. And all by means of a Shakespearean sonnet! My one quarrel was with the last line. Does 'acclaim' cover one 'like moss'? I just had the feeling the author was desperately looking for a rhyme. Surely this can only detract from a poem's ultimate authority. Like a fumbled catch.

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Cindy Erlandson
Cindy Erlandson
Oct 25, 2022

I think this sonnet is very impressive in several ways. Although the reader isn't expected to know the precise nature of the half-lies, mildewed perceptions, or new-killed daydreams, the concept works because of all of the ingenious imagery the poet uses: "sleep's dark booth"; "they vaporize as dew / Retreats before the sun's advance"; "sub-brain drill teams" marching like maggots (Wow!) and "bone-hard immaculate conceptions." Another brilliant touch is the sort of inside-out internal rhyme of "mildewed" and "new-killed". This poem is a real winner!

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Carol
Carol
Oct 25, 2022

Well done Dean, perfect iambic pentameters !

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