How to Stay Awake


I was looking for something that contained the word “ovation” and came across this quote. The quote from the poet Marilyn Nelson, describing the poetry of John Drury:

“Fiercely intelligent, carefully honed, Drury’s poems trust in the myth of the way things are, singing of memory and loss to our sad world of ovation and applause.”
—Marilyn Nelson

Then I went to Drury’s poems and found this gem:

How to Stay Awake


Late at night on the interstate, driving

while drowsy, you crank

open the window

so the wind starts shoving


with its cold fingers.

But even with coffee, the sedative is silence,

a calm that lingers


in the slow drone of tires on the highway,

like the hushed waves

against a hull that’s rocking on the bay.


In any car,

the wind, however loud, is still a murmur.

What’s a sure


way to keep yourself awake? Just click

the radio on

to something loud enough, not talk but rock,

and don’t just listen—

that’s how a siren lures you to slip under,

seductive assassin,


and merge into a gulf of harmonies.

You have to sing,

open your mouth wide, belt it out, and praise


the means you have

for rescuing your own self from yourself,

to stay alive


by keeping the muscles moving in your mouth,

so your eyes can’t close,

so the song becomes a counter-spell to death.





<a href=””>Ovation</a&gt;


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