By Alan Shapiro

(posted Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1998)

To hear the poet read “Hallway,” click here.

Too uncomfortable to sleep,
and too tired not to, wandering
in a half-sleep all night
through the small apartment,
the good leg dragging the bad
behind it like a child
to punishment, the back
stooped, and the head cocked
slightly like a bird’s so he can see
with the eye that isn’t blind yet
just where the hell he’s going–

if he isn’t one of Plato’s
souls that walk out to the rim
of heaven, consider him,
at least, the fleshed out
idea, the bodily perfection
of everything they would
have had to overcome
to get there; consider him
the why me, arthritic subtext
of their aspiration, what it is,
as they gaze upon the fixed,

impersonal shining of
the good, the just, the beautiful,
that wanders through the small
apartment all night long
from bedroom to hall, from hall
to kitchen, kitchen to bathroom,
the whole time thinking
only of sleep, and how
much longer can he walk
like this, and what will he do
with himself, at night, when he can’t.