The Sleep That Changed Everything

The Sleep That Changed Everything

by Lee Ann Brown

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<P>Offering both subtle and immediate pleasures, Lee Ann Brown's generous new book extends her unmistakable, original voice, every bit as Southern as it is avant-garde, gracious without being naive. Abounding in a playfulness of style, including songs and ballads, the poems in The Sleep That Changed Everything are by turns funny, serious, insightful and moving. Botanical and scientific language are used here as collage elements to chart cycles of desire and emotional transformation. Brown is committed to Whitman's idea that we all have many selves; thus her work embraces the immediacy of the New York School, the personal and literary wildness of the Beats, the word play and political astuteness of Language poetry and an eroticism all her own. In poems that are both highly literate and plain-spoken, Brown makes the life of the soul directly available in all its renegade garb.</P>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819576156
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 05/15/2015
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

<P>LEE ANN BROWN is Assistant Professor of English at St. John's University in New York City. A poet and filmmaker whose first book, Polyverse (1999), won the New American Poetry Series Award, she is also the founder and editor of the small press Tender Buttons.</P>

Read an Excerpt



an act of blowing on, into, or in

* * *

a Christian ceremonial rite of exorcism performed by breathing on a person

* * *

the act of blowing something (as a gas, powder, or vapor) into a body cavity

It remains (Alice Notley)
read poetry and imagine yourself writing it

A poet is a mirror, a transcriber (Susan Howe)

What are these winged words

(Jennifer Moxley)

Other peoples' vocabularies did this to me.

Auspicious Window

Between sky & town Birds sing Bells ring Venus ascends the Starry Stair While afternoon comes upon Our fair histories

Sensitive plants touch but Stay open past twilight.
Between rearranged lines Walking, lives a moth.
A flaming sigh Takes us past our pain almost Human Lucky A brief Communication Fortuitous Window never Written, go on

A Call for Vertical Integration in the Eye of the Storm

Purple & blue Tiffany combo in the Church of my childhood struggle of perfect Public meat longing again vine-covered Power flower conflict hunger for green

Struggle — if this is sin then separation —
Grace abounds even more than bonds —
Doubt boundaries not programmable —
Stretched grace strikes us down —
Social eels demand ransom, children

Do not bow your heads — tranquility of hymns Is shattered & addressed two days ago I Saw the Black Ash of a Church Burned on its Sure Foundation Century old pin oaks scorched

Against stones of those who can't ever leave this sight —
Who witnessed Who Drove away during the sermon Burning


Come lay here awhile familiar body of earth swelling sweetness I know not yet

When sexing grows stale so will living so not yet to die or be bored by bright eyes in the bias of night streaming
3 am comfortable garlic rose honey jasper beryllium iridium insulating who knows what from whom or what marginalia starts to cook at
3 pm half way cross to one real world writing flash across the sky complete with fiery tail Just once is not enough how 'bout 4 a minute and look up again tonight

Come here Come tarry

Comet her

Encyclopedia Botanica


A Mother-to-Be's Book of meltdown anticipation and scientific renderings of organic and theoretical forms such as the way flowers lie in the bud: A permutational Cento of Centos consisting of painful insufflations, multiple estivations, the calculus of various inflorescents, my naive set theories (as unordered pairs), vibratory odes in all manner of cross-pollinating color, illumined spores & how they grow in corkscrew contortion, all imbued with entire New Electric Libraries of the Body. Herein find random factors of the strange attraction to "hard science," but also to soften it, previously FAILED materials and pick-up works, illuminated maps of misreading, specifically, a Trace Study of my Own Peculiar Vocabulary living in the dictionary, reading public signs backwards or torqued in the House (See: "Waking in the Offices of Dawn," "A Demand for Fried Chicken," and "The Unhinged Bride's Index Box"). A deep pillow tapestry, the soft underbelly of the (not guilty) quilt-lined snow on 100's of 1000's of flowers packed in wet newspaper to last this linked act always with an Other in mind: molecules being excited to a higher level of activity by heat or unseen stimulations, through any reader's eye to correspondence's finger, culminating in a Splice Index for the edification of Ladies, Gentlemen, Sentences & new Punkish Geezers left out in the rain of the Sleep Cake that changed Everything.


for Tom Raworth

Fresh start she smokes the color of his eyes rat, maternal & sexual behavior

in that culture there was husband capture the word for inhaling someone else

"stay" plain an insufflating venture inventing all the ways of from

as for me and mine we know how water changes pitch as it warms up &
connects the poem's skin up to curvaceous thought
& open possibles,
pricks up the spring like songs

my liner notes are nonlinear notes

Linear Velocity in a Velocity line

Children meeting you can only try

Not to subsume the title into the poem

Words like "crank" & "shift"
Thinking as sexually inspired not so far from the idea of what makes me write

Vibratory Ode Not to work my Vibratory Mode was one option I close to forego

What happened to me?
I tried to be like everybody else for a few moments out the window

Insufflation loss or relation or In your face elation suffered inflation Play it in its identification

I feel like I can't read people's poems without loving them Just having met he said Tell me everything right now
& give it to me right now on stone tablets right now please

My other story:
Upon trying to find some Barbecue in Greensboro, NC on a Sunday night
& upon the suggestion of a restaurant named I forget what,
She said, "No, that's Black Tie"
& I thought she meant
"Pigfoot with Lemongrass"

I can tell Electricity

I've often been too literal & try Always to fly over the wings

––And what does a body do without its desires?
––It tries to get them back
(Carla Harryman)

I'm your irreversible Holiday Guest The phone rang as we walked in the door Sorry we missed each other any exchange of info

or Phraseology

I limit my register Relegation Regulation Regulating the specifics of her encircling the rhythmic phrase Embrace loneliness & get over it

"What's normal to you is strange to me"

Muscle in on Collage as a grid I am read What would you like
Too late to lay straight out Music spins too short to cut back Amazingly unformulaic exchange of modes No memory any more than writing without remembering

Mural pout icy blue irises taste salty Negative lotion or prosthetic nerve Too beautiful for use Exclusive of description Distant radio blur pensive not some kind of horrible rhythm Grinning mask The black church vibrates That's not nice

I'll tell you a story Meager income not sleep Driver to tense up the flowers Fetch the muscular job Lack thereof when indifference flutters Not impressed by personality Scratch "Music"
Hanging up the phone Any trick to sit still Dependent on time not motor vehicles In the mode of grabbing the meat Money exchanged hands Laying the book flat She worked it out The sunlight offered solution

Calling in sick the ceiling crumbles Stages of dreaming travel & funeral Forgetting the text Deserted not waiting a titular running away Writing for the "ing"
Every click startles my little girl A father I wish I never had Back sliding emotion Curious about devolution Too busy or not so (with the dailies)
Balance sheets tear my eye A star staring Forcing myself on myself Auto treble singes the cut Extra "E" why kill a moth?
Harsh detail driven in with a nail Phraseology stiffens and pumps Missing its next opportunity Working together for a moment As if compatibility were a muscle Too much resistance Preponderance too normal Spoiled bourgeosie me What could they have but beauty Backwards medal a moment nerve out still proceeding stacatto endurance

tongue tied missive never arrived or even called never picked up as in the machine hung up not like I imagined a cricket under the fridge plate goes back to sleep
"spot" as percussive derivative protest byzantine frustration under any circumstance either deal or freak momentum taboos the corner store Easter morning alone Setting myself up to be toughened a spectrum of hair Unanthologized Beat spun out into reading it sometimes to myself see if I can still end up waiting no matter what might as well find a way to work Need a scar a notice stressed Struck through quotation marks

Poet's Complaint

Exercising the drill bit in my mouth I am past working for the man Yet must do it again —
Again do it must I Like every poor sod Guiltily sapping on lazy-nesses Bed of down right Southern Insolence — Mules & Drugs Sleepy of culture Culture of sleepy Walking in pumps sumped Out to yards of S. O'Hara's spoiler.
Miss Scarlet Mars on Venus moons:
O Muser be my Abuser!
Wake up — Atalanta's burning!
When will I again be evicted From this Divine Sepulchre?
When will I get my jump Astarted from above?
Athena should be leaner Brand me again With the mark of the Breast!
I need a Wing Haven I need a Thrush Band Of gypsies holding Mirrors to my waste.
I need a Lark who sings So out of tune so as to Shake me to my roots —
But please can you make it not hurt So much Like last time?
Pull my hair only hard enough To make it Grow greener than grass
& Death seem so near But not yet here

Respond to me

Respond to me: how many iniquities have I and fish. Scholar me
& delicate easterns to me.

Simple curs abscond with you
& are arbitrarily inimicable to you?

Against leaves, what raptors I buy

East and potentates to aim and stipendly sic'em on persecutors:

Writers & enemies against my sailor lovers consume me, consume my fish my many sad scents

Positronic in my nervous pedestals
& observing all vastness my many cementings
& my vestigial feet meow considerately:

How quasi I redo considerable sums, how invested, how comedic a tin ear.

shiny jewel eye

with Julie Patton, Euphrosyne Bloom & Meg Arthurs in mind

These flower forms vary to me in ways I can't say yet but you know already before me in your dress lace — no "A" on the off white (cream) lady bugged familiar to the wall pointing to Big Ohio Egyptian football in & out motion of your arms passion freak — out on our own time — to the triumphs flower — the stole slipped, the slip stole — no limits on the feintly fealty couch — passive as he was — (I'm huge) — the hinge bing-cherried out & tweaked on the Byronic road ironic — drownded in the lake of Prague's Guarda — Valve without me — he's — free — and Sphinx-like as I write the night again so quick — The Dion Ferry is X-otic — water taxied over Manhatta's spires

where (back in time) she was living in Alphabet City with all the little stories she never tells:

While throwing an apple peel over her shoulder she suddenly realizes she's been living in Description City all along. A big, blue letter "A" is motioning for her over to take off her veil and play, but she says 'fuck that' while chewing on her candy cigarettes. The Phantom Tollbooths, otherwise known as the Fuss Puppets, are now warming up in the room covered entirely with writing. One says "Dogmatic No Radio" and another, just "Spike."

Ms. (Blank) was trying to think but it was real hard because of all the buzzing. People kept trying to get her attention and succeeding. She had started to live alone once, but like honey he started living there too, postponing her growing up for a few more months.

She lived in the zone whose even years no solstice interrupt. A certain surgeon had a beautiful garden there. He stuttered even further when trying to speak his own name. There remains a small scar on her forefinger where she cut herself in the university kitchens. Blood ran all down her apron as she inadvertently hoisted the large carrot, repairing back to her room. A Russian Formalist toy made of colored wood was waiting there.

She converted to Sarah Beattyism, then more slowly to Quietism. Single Girl, Single Girl, Goes where she please. Married Girl, Married Girl: Baby on her knees Baby on her knees. If one more guy tells me they like that song, I'm going to Crown Him (in not a nice way).

Hot nights in the summer bedroom astrological Grand Central Station. Fox Point Kitchen Dance. Mingus was a Big Band trying to affect my body with some immediate gravity. Sex do to me one's catalogue and while you're at it Rimbaud. The cats had better but fewer houses. Let all mortal flesh keep silent over that one. The seraphim with ceaseless eye knew their metempsychosis was incomplete.

So formally, she was nowhere yet. But the dream takes its own form, organically arranged like a bento box, that is, organic within the waking grid.

Whitman Poem "Come …"

See the many blossoms of the field:
––Each blade shines with an infinity of flowers,
––––each blowing its life away —
––––––Pollen carried in the wind, Sing!

To the wind, Clover, wild rose, sturdy Mullen,
––purple Larch and Dog violet, twiny Jute,
––––tiny Pipsissiwa all connected underground,
––––––Pokeweed's vivid juice on my skin:

To all the plants, flowering weeds and grasses:
––Cinquefoil, Wild Columbine, Rue, Bergamot:

All Gorgeous Companions,

Let's lay our warm bodies down on the warmer earth.

Let me lay my head on your chest and feel your breath …

All around us the grasses are blooming as we are,
entering and mixing, one into another!



The way flower petals lie in the bud


to pass the summer in a state of torpor — compare

this vegetal pregnancy

Faces and forms, I would write
––you down In a style of leaves growing.

(Louis Zukofsky)

Unseen buds, infinite, hidden well,
Under the snow and ice, under the darkness, in every square or cubic inch,

Like babes in wombs, latent, folded, compact, sleeping

(Walt Whitman)

I want certain words more than a thousand flowers

–– (Cibo Matto)


all our hypertridimensional lives


Curling heart You're all wrought up But any to open at ready given moment

A byzantine course description

A wild menu moves the feast to violet



We must curl in reverse We must curl in cruelty We must eat

(Lyn Hejinian)

O my little Contradiction what terms like Cover and Sleeper can't rejoin broad daylight over a former part of life now seen as mystery data via the departmental arts I mean to vie for Being a Sleeper The idea cringes to be called that.

What if paper were longer?

Wincing, he winges, so winged.

An involute trip through in search of your own part

Forms of unfinished estivation
Flip in as in Neuromancer

––the floral clock


––Available light or light while there is light

Why privilege any one bead of the necklace or borrow a boring music?

––50 curls

The sidewalks of Winesburg, Ohio roll up in a spiral having been wound so closely around their axis

His Insulators are of the varigated lingerie variety We bake screw muffins in the sun

Everything seems real decadent as the decade rolls up

In botany flowers continue to bloom In the country, same thing

In geometry a curve is traced by the end of a taut string
––when it is wound upon or unwound from a fixed curve
––on the same plane with it
––like the bright green bean vines wildly crawling up

An involving or being involved (entanglement or complication)

As when he said I had
"Byzantine ideas of human sexual relationships."

I had to look it up when he left the room.

––O you involute poets, yelping and mating
––with your own kind on the rocky crags:

––Don't do the Poetry Slam!

Turning in on one's self.

––Think I'll turn in now.

Turn into what?


Two lips link in overlapping margins


Sucking on Mary's Spoon I was

Cat mound rests her place

What will happen next a pregnant curl of a bloom not new but referencing other flowers
Anthos legere
flowers & brambles a tangled swamp fall leaves rain

fall leaves fall


Turning towards you Something's gotta give

viridian green pleads her case

The sickbook is full today —
Come back tomorrow

feathery stitches + + +

pure joy

feather y stitches /// unfinished estivation

the bud unfurl ed
––like my finger s in a fist
––––of pi nk not
––––thr eatening to you r


Rose Clothed Ahead

for Coby Batty & his wolf-dog Hazel

peacocks in the rafters written in blue vectors in the vortex red working in concert in this our sad & beautiful world outside the video brimming with memories the rain comes again steady in your mouth the peace lily blooms we reach people in waves be careful It's porn out there pokeberries where In my mind peacocks in the sheet mettle Welcome to the secular sexular church of happiness Succubi & Incubi altogether now peruse and pursue your spider music The good life fell out of your book so I put it back in the middle of grace in the greys she diffused it a 'peace genius'
walking down the middle


Excerpted from "The Sleep That Changed Everything"
by .
Copyright © 2003 Lee Ann Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, IX,

What People are Saying About This

Robin Blaser

“An astonishing, wonderful book, top-of-the-line poetry. Poem by poem there is the pathway of her botanical vocabulary through a long poem—flowering, leafing, curling edges of her loving mind and heart. Her ‘life long love of language’ breathes here.”

Charles Bernstein

"Shout, whisper, and strum these mercurial poems, old-time lyrics, and inventive translations and transpositions. Lee Ann Brown's The Sleep That Changed Everything is a sprung formalist ode to the 'open possibilities' of song."
Charles Bernstein, author of With Strings

From the Publisher

"Shout, whisper, and strum these mercurial poems, old-time lyrics, and inventive translations and transpositions. Lee Ann Brown's The Sleep That Changed Everything is a sprung formalist ode to the 'open possibilities' of song." —Charles Bernstein, author of With Strings

"An astonishing, wonderful book, top-of-the-line poetry. Poem by poem there is the pathway of her botanical vocabulary through a long poem—flowering, leafing, curling edges of her loving mind and heart. Her 'life long love of language' breathes here."—Robin Blaser, author of Even On Sunday

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