top of page

Before I Remember Sleep

Poet: Carolyn Martin

Tonight, the open windows invite in
the neighbor’s front porch lights and the frenzy
of a feral cat courting his reluctant mate.
How Emile Zola pops up at the foot of my bed
mystifies; but, as soon as he shouts,
I came to live out loud, Van Gogh saunters in
and shoulders him aside. What would life be–
authority’s in his voice– if we had no courage
to attempt anything? Shushing them,
I’m sure they scared the neighbor’s friends waving
their goodbyes and unwound the randy cat.
Neither dares to add another word.
Funny how lines I’ve filed away for years
revive themselves tonight.
I expect Oscar Wilde to flounce across the room
declaring, Work is the refuge of people
who have nothing better to do. He’s bound to
aggravate Karl Marx and History repeats
itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.
Robert Frost will likely pontificate,
In three words I can sum up everything
I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
Ansel Adams will go on about the limits
of words and photographs– When images become
inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
Energized, I silence the outside world
and wait for an opening to quote myself,
Doubt nothing and everything.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 135 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments was released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. More at

bottom of page