Night Class for Insomniacs

Thomas Townsley


Night Class for Insomniacs, Thomas Townsley’s second collection of poetry and prose, extends the work which he began in Reading the Empty Page.  What is the basis for our knowledge of ourselves and the world we inhabit?  Can we interact with each other in any direct way if we are caught in language games?  The difficulties of communication, whether between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, or between story characters and their readers, are fully tallied and balanced with slapstick humor.  The result is an original take on the major concerns of post-modern thinking.  Congratulations, you’ve been enrolled in night class!  Your performance has no bearing whatsoever on the final grade.



I came home early and found my dog
reading Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death.
“Hey, buddy. I didn’t know
you could read,” I said.
“It says here,” my dog replied,
without looking up, “that ‘not being in despair,
not being conscious of being in despair,
is precisely a form of despair.’”

“Well, you know how we humans are,
always getting ourselves in a tangle over nothing.”
I gave him a pat on the head.
“How about a nice game of catch?”

“But,” my dog said, “Am I in despair?”

“Do you feel like you’re in despair?” I asked,
scratching him behind the ear
in that spot he liked. “Is him in despair?
Does him feel despair?”

I watched his face go taut, the way it always does.
“To be honest, I’ve never
really thought about it,” he said.
His leg began to twitch.

“Well,” I said, waiting until it was thumping
rhythmically against the armrest,
“Then the answer would be yes.”  


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