Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Two Insomnia Poems by Ella Cather-Davis and Annette Januzzi Wick

Can’t sleep? Might as well write! Here are two very different poems by two very different poets, Ella Cather-Davis of New Richmond and Annette Januzzi Wick of Over the Rhine, both capturing that tension between the internal and external worlds when sleep is caught somewhere in between.

The Breathing Tree

Just outside the glass doors
of this God-forsaken room
over there by the pool,
that tree is breathing.

I view it through half-open eyes
inhaling – – – exhaling
its leaves rustling like tiny bells.
I am too afraid to sleep

I force my heart to slow beats
and cautiously review once more
this vile day which has sent me
fleeing here for asylum.

I await rescue from me,
fight smothering panic,
will my eyes to return to
that calm breathing tree.

I hear a dove call Ooo, Ooo, Ooo.
The world is going on as it does
and I must awake tomorrow
to face its consequences.

And the world will go on
as it always does.

Ella Cather-Davis


Sleeping in my Bra

Lately, the quilts have offered
deep cover
from even deeper state.
I slide beneath
tired from shouting to the world
wanting to shut the world out

My feet are trapped
below the weight of wool,
as if toes have been woven
in place, ensnared in the loom
between the yarns
of what is told to us
and the threads
of what we tell ourselves

I lay in wonder
as thoughts shuttle between

the others
the mothers
the ones without mothers
the ones who can’t be mothers

and questions
throttle my throat
lace up my tongue
in these wee hours

Trapped still am I
from keeping anyone safe
from their own demons
their own diseases
their own direction forward
into a world that would easily
let them disappear

Finally, I wake
comforted by tangles
of a bra that serves
as a shield for my sheness
an armor for my soul

like a harness
lifts a heddle
on a wooden loom

my bra boosts
my femaleness
when I do not have the might.

Annette Januzzi Wick (


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

One thought on “Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Two Insomnia Poems by Ella Cather-Davis and Annette Januzzi Wick”

  1. I love how these poems (and others) are paired as to subject matter and yet they both are so unique and distinct. So lovely to know I will read great poets in Cincinnati everyday in April. Thank you all for sharing.

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