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Asleep -- poetry by Emerson Keen

True loneliness like falling asleep at the sleepover before everyone else. 

You’re in orange pajamas with hardwood cold 

seeping into the threads of your spinal cord. 

You’ve got goosebumps. 

You hear the girl next to you breathe softly,

you envy her long hair and peace that sits under her eyes, 

You miss her. You wish she was up 

to speak about class or the movie or her whole life

one last time–

then her peace would, maybe, finally be yours.

The dusty blank smell of the floor 

and the chapter book she’s read is sending 

echos inside your skull. 

You wish someone was up, 

you wish the other girls liked to hold hands 

in the night to stop the aloneness, 

like a wire of beating hearts that called 

out for care or speech.

You wish there was a cave filled with

beautiful gems and crystals that 

chimed softly in this foreign house,

wish there was a fairy that glowed 

blue and sat in sleepless girls palms. 

You wish the floor were heated like mom’s 

back, you wish being last didn’t mean losing. 

You wish for it all till eyelashes 

sew thoughts shut and 

sink you into the dark.


Emerson Keen is a senior from Decatur High School. Though she’s farther away from death than she is near to it, she’s overall pretty sure life is about love, and a couple other things like reading and laughing. In addition to writing poems instead of doing homework, she is fond of gardening, listening to music, and Ada Limon. She is a district winner for Young Georgia authors, and is perpetually grateful to her past and future teachers, as well as her friends and family for their love. 

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