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Emily Heilker

night notes

11 sleepless years
trebling alone in the dark

a story she improvises about a dog
to make up for the ones she kept dreaming

a cat skinned dead. At the stroke of
12 years old, 12 funerals (like they just went

to sleep). She ticks off the years otherwise composed
of bone  glitter  nonlinear distortion effects.

Pipes fallen at an angle, water &phlegm collect in her
lungs—things she uses to make comparison mild.

In the nighttime, mitigate the thing’s
exhaustion, Westie licking her feet. What in the morning

only causes alarm. He reads Once and Future
King out loud after work when she’s sick

which is to say frequently. Time doesn’t seem
to exist. Listen to his voice.

I had a lucky foreground


Arm fell down across table, timber in the rustle, placemat on wood, on newspaper. Body testing impact: to die in a dream is said to be good luck. Listening to my voice, another’s mouth moves. Oil beetles cloud, convergent. A phone rotates into a dial.


Happens almost as often as the dogs. Crabapples shaken, loose, my body leveraged from great height. This fight, we know, bears no future in the kinetics of dream. Obstinately, the angle of the picture plane opens a door. Outside an eye built.


Not to lose perspective but to add to it. Wistful the flashbacks, utopic the variations. I tied a bag around the branches, kept the baubles in. Not just the sublime that offers to compel.


In the not-dream, I get up from the table & declare my loserdom. State of comfort hanging in the aftermath. A joint passed round a circle that has assembled in a yellow room. Twice lipped into silence, mouth deepens its shiraz. As I fall into place on the carpet, question of his lengthening hair.


When we go into a forest we do not see the fallen rotting trees. Mrs. Blank for whom we drew seven layers deep. This is the anger I am looking for. Pain of a pencil casually stabbed by a passerby in my arm.


Wooded lip behind the Fernbank Science Center, I remember nothing. Inside or outside, do they move? Farther down the path, a guide, artist’s conk on a fallen oak. Pines are there & then they’re not, lapsarian. Flock of children dissipates as they mistake flight patterns out of Hartsfield International for stars.


In an old poem, I collected eyes that fit nicely into word problems. Could be pulled from a bag more probably than rabbit or marble or grape. Memory serving (or not), she drew eyes for anchorage. Stares constellate like baubles in the pine branches after ice strips them of green.


Language, rung-to-rung, falling. A dirt mound collects our games into the shade. Jump rope, hopscotch, Barbie Doll Dream Burial, Oregon Trail. In an old apartment above the train tracks, in a former leatherworks, I could hear my eyes clicking open, shut.


Und die Stärke des Fadens liegt nicht darin, dass irgend eine Faser durch seine ganze Länge läuft. [T]he strength of the thread does not reside in the fact that one fiber runs through its whole length. Sleep eyes in a ceramic head, the sublime sounds a prehistory of trauma. In between what moves.


Across an arm head fallen. A ball jointed mechanism or gusset. After crossing, how to return to the moment before? To die in a dream is said to return one to life, to see who will fall into the next sequence. Und die Stärke des Fadens. Line loses ground.

sound en lieu



her language fell close, German that no longer exists, grandmother Mimi no longer exists, her German dwindling through her youth, thrown away with the Zeitung, it’s hard to describe, xenophobia, English-only, war, 100 years ago now sounds familiar, my own German softening g, trace of an accent, instinct yet learned, brought back by a grandfather from the other side, James who learned from a military-industrial vantage, idiom of the bomber, I’m stuck with this language either way, rattling the brain-pattern, rattling through family history, through youthful familiarity, through, out of Baltimore, Bayern, Westphalen lingering, sound of frustration, my voice, creeping pitch like water levels shifting, a glass being tapped

Emily Heilker
hails from Atlanta & has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She has previously published in places like Sonora ReviewLoose Change Magazine, & The Nottingham Review.