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The Key To Happiness Is Sleeping Very Little Or Not At All


Once you fell in love and then the love itself grew old and died.  The dripping oaks huddled over Boyden Street just east of the old forest with toxic streams, pipe fed, and the secret meadow where you watched specters playing croquette and dogs running circles in the clearing, and the young men and women wore heavy wool coats against the freezing wind.

Remember when you used to walk in the rain in ancient neighborhoods, and the lyrics in your head so burned and desperately needed to be written that you carried your laptop to the common-room and typed free verse under the fluorescent lights, lab-like, alone in old dorm chairs and filthy couches and the quad darkened at 4 am without, everyone asleep but you were impelled to sit dehydrated and twitchy banging out odes to towers and iron windows, stone fountains built secretly into the dug-out sides of wildgrass hills.  Whole days and nights in the library; the key to happiness is never sleeping; you built up a mythology of days and weeks, scheduled naps and waking up at 3:30 pm so you could run by the coffee shop before it closed early on weekends, reading arcane math and philosophy texts sitting crosslegged in woodchip piles or on the damp, hard roots of campus oak trees.   

You carried your happiness in a backpack: books and iPod and notebooks and graphing calculator and cell phone and water bottle and hooded sweatshirt, so you could stay in the 24-hour buildings all night.  You never felt in danger in the silent gardens and sparse trees among the department buildings.  You were alone and had a warm place to sleep that night.  The wind was light and whispering and it did not rain.  There was a demon warmth in your ears and fingers and the marble steps and carpeted hallways loved you at midnight, and it was not only just enough for you but it was vision and wonder overflowing.

Nate East has been writing, photocopying and stapling ‘zines of his poetry for a long while, and these small books can be found in free-boxes and trash piles all over San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. His poems and stories have appeared in The Northville Review, SoandSo Magazine, Dogzplot, Metazen, and The Dirty Pond, and he writes online at