C.N. Bean

Awake, Sleeper


In the forest

below the balcony

where I hid

on Ramstein Air Force Base,

a stopover

for the wounded,


and dead,

the giant kicked




I slid

deeper into

my bag

whose zipper-less face


no light,

though I knew was there

because night breathed


into its hole

until the giant paused,

nostrils raised.


Nothing moved then

while he memorized

my scent, not until

I couldn’t help it any longer

and urine soiled

the down bag.

The giant

walked on,

kicking leaves

well into

the distant night

as my bed grew icy.


In the morning,

while my mother scrubbed

the bag inside-out

with soapy water

and hung it

over the railing

for all to see,

my father taunted me

for being too lazy to come inside

to use the bathroom.

I told him I didn’t wake up.

He called me a liar.


Many times since

I have watched

the silver caskets

under American flags

be carried in cadence

by the color guard

into the open belly

of a transport plane

after a stopover

at the same base,

frozen heroes

on their way home.


I wonder

what those inside locked boxes

would say if they could break

the air-tight seals

and escape the odor of their

bodily fluids.


Would they


the giant

or claim

they slept

through it?


In addition to serving on the English faculty of Virginia Tech, C.N. Bean has published three novels with Putnam/Penguin, A Soul to TakeWith Evil Intent, and Dust to Dust, and poetry in magazines such as Miranda Literary ReviewBlaze Vox, and Toronto Quarterly. One of his screenplays has been produced as a film, The Dream Interpreter.  He has received numerous awards for screenwriting. One of his feature film screenplays, The World of Lonely, was a finalist in this year’s Charleston International Film Festival, and a short screenplay, How Can You Say I Love You? was selected as one of the top fifty scripts in this year’s Canadian Short Screenplay Competition.

About Copperfield

Since 2000, The Copperfield Review has been a leading market for short historical fiction. Copperfield was named one of the top sites for new writers by Writer's Digest and it is the winner of the Books and Authors Award for Literary Excellence. We publish short historical fiction as well as history-based nonfiction, poetry, reviews, and interviews.
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