issue 12 FEATURE: RAFAEL CAMPO
From the James Tate Tribute
THE SOMNAMBULIST'S HANDBOOK
In memory of James Tate
By accident, night fell and scraped its knees
against the ragged edge of the horizon.
We called the oozing blood sunset.
I pushed it, and night fell. It spilled its ink
all over everything. The goddamn moon
still shined though, as bright as my rage.
The older you get, the more you fall, night.
As regular as clockwork, the sun goes
then down you come again, all bruised.
After night fell, stars danced around its head
like in the old cartoons. Right afterwards
we both blacked out, til morning came.
Are you drunk on your own beauty again?
Keep falling like that and it will be lights out
for good. Night, don’t pretend you can’t hear!
Imagine night never falling again.
Sun, pure witness. So let night take the fall,
though we’re the ones who need the rest.
Night fell. Someone called the police, who came
with guns drawn, shouting “Stand down!” Shots were fired.
Black, poor night never had a chance.
Succumbing to the armies of despair,
night fell. The terms of its surrender were
to free us all to dream again.
Amazing, how night can fall without sound—
no scream, so silently we hear wolves howl,
forever in awe of its grace.
Rafael Campo teaches and practices internal medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and many periodicals including Nation, New Republic, New York Times, Poetry, Salon, Slate, and elsewhere. A volume of his new and selected poems is forthcoming in April 2016 from Hippocrates Press.