Richard Grahn-Poetry – Online Open Mic


Once again, 3:00 AM. This computer’s clock has ticked away another two hours of irreplaceable sleep time. My bladder woke me and my treacherous brain denied me a return to slumber. After checking my empty inbox a dozen times and browsing through an idle Facebook feed until ennui set in, I find myself herding words.

morning routine
I sweep cobwebs
from the ceiling

The doctor tells me sleep is essential for my mental and physical health. Convey that message to my neurons, please. A thousand sheep and still counting. I have enough wool for a wardrobe of sweaters and mittens. So I write about sweaters and mittens.

I have this nagging thought of my cat and my ex who has the cat. I hope they’re happy together but I’d sacrifice a lamb to be reunited with them now. He’s a long-haired kitty and she has curls. My hair is falling out so I shave my head regularly. Oh, what I’d give to run my fingers through hair again. 4:47 AM.

5:32 AM. The A key keeps sticking…aaaaaaaa. Must be trying to tell me something, some great revelation yet to emerge on the page. Perhaps there’s even a shilling in it for me. Then I can buy a decent pillow.

6: 15 AM. Now, it’s come to me. I’m thinking of starting a rebellion. The world is due for a great upheaval. Not one where governments fall or industry is brought to its knees. Sheep keep me awake. I’m thinking we should deport them all to the steppes of Spain or the pastures in the south of France. Let the shepherds count them. They have dogs to help keep track. Yes, a revolution is in order. This is a cause that will put you to sleep. All that baaing has cats and girlfriends swirling through my brain.

If your head is a stockyard like mine, join me in this revolt to silence the lambs. Take a break from your insomnia. Become asleep. Don’t give in to the faces from the past. Armies march on their stomachs. We can march on mutton.

I readjust
my dreamcatcher


The knowledge of good and evil is no help where losing you is concerned. We said our vows and then split like overripe fruit. I remember our conversations, the first one and the last. Words brought us together, but they also tore us apart.

fallen leaves

on the garden path—

a puff of wind

I have dreams where I get lost in familiar places. The landscape turns apocalyptic and all I want is to find my way back to you. I wake up with a knot in my stomach and a scream choked in my throat. I tell myself it’s just a dream but it still takes a few minutes to flush it from my imagination.

no splash today a frozen pond

Can’t Take it Home

The trail from my favorite meadow meanders through the wood. I’m carrying a basket with a surprise in it for Grandma.
A gray-haired hiker approaches from the other direction, stopping in front of me, “Hi there. What’s in the basket?”

“Wildflowers for my grandmother.”

He steps closer, “Can I see?”

“Sure.” I open the basket and tip it towards him.

He leans in. “That’s a lot of flowers.” His dark-brown eyes widen as he reaches into the basket and pulls out a violet. “You must be her favorite grandson.”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

For a moment our eyes lock, and I watch as his face mutates into a grimace, gnarled teeth clenched. With the quickness of a cat, he drops the flower and seizes my arm. The basket falls as we wrestle to the ground; his mustached mouth against my lips oozes spit. He licks my face with his long, slimy tongue as he rips at my pants. The man-turned-monster grinds me into the earth, then rolls me over, and enters. My mind goes silent.

“Thank you for such a pleasant gift,” she says. “What have you been up to? Your clothes are a fright.”

“Just playing in the meadow, picking flowers.”

“Well, those flowers must have fought back. Come, let me straighten you up and we’ll have some cookies.”

I force a smile and nod halfheartedly. “Okay.”

boy in a mask—
not enough space
for a scream


Richard Grahn from Evanston, Illinois:  
The Universe is a medium. I draw inspiration from the void and from the all. Now is my timezone. I am blessed to be able to practice my passions, photography, sculpture, painting, music, and writing, full time. I have worked with aluminum, bronze, stone, wood, Styrofoam, glass, plaster, grass, and a variety of sculpture and mold making products. Some projects took over 18 years to complete, others were finished in an afternoon. Except for the photography (and sometimes with photography), my work is abstract, drawing from both the natural and the man-made world. I believe that one facet of art is its ability to take the viewer on a trip through their own imagination. Without the viewer, we would be out of work, or is it play?

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