night terror

Content Warning: police brutality, blood

night terror

one night,

you’ll wake screaming.


at four in the morning

a panic, rising and ripening,

will rip itself free,

until your throat bleeds.

your roommate will jump out of bed

thinking of three numbers 

and a dial tone,

she’ll ask you what’s wrong

but you won’t know.

the dream had just been there,

but once you look for it in the sweaty sheets,

it’s gone.

and only weeks later, 

cutting strawberries at the counter, 

will you see that the horror wasn’t housed 

in that world, asleep.

it came from the one with morning sun

and strawberry seeds.

for weeks, you’ll wake each day to screams.


you’ll wake to a tank rolling down your street,

and tear gas staining the summer breeze.

you’ll shut every window to keep it all out,

as every fan you can get your hands on

disperses the violence, 

dries the tears,

but still you can’t breathe.

you’ll wake to screams

not your own

and scroll for hours through the world’s pain, 

always refreshed

in a way you’ll come to envy

with such lack of sleep.

there will be riots and injustice and disaster and disease

a hatred so deep,

you won’t know how to even begin 

uprooting it

but if this is what it takes

to put the dirt under your fingernails

to get you into those streets

then what’s a little lost sleep?

for the first time 

in the privilege of your life

it will be your city 

that burns shoots screams

and for a single moment in that sudden,

violent waking,

you’ll be everyone else’s voice.

when the scream comes,

it comes from somewhere.

let it out,

and don’t go back to sleep.

Default image
Natalie Brandt
Natalie Brandt (She/her) is a senior Creative Writing major at Point Park. Her favorite genres to read and write are fantasy, young adult, science fiction, romance, and poetry. She spends her free time reading, drawing, watching films, and taking care of her many plants. She has always championed the power of art in our lives and believes that artists have the responsibility and privilege of using their voices, and mediums, to share their experiences. She believes doing so makes our world a more understanding, creative place. After graduation, she aspires to become a published novelist.