Night So Long

The nights are so long
when I’m alone in my bed,
sleep having left me for another.
And yet I wait, listening
to the tick-tock of my heart
beat out the stretch of time
between laying my head
on the pillow and when that imposter
embraces me until my eyes open
and I find it wasn’t sleep,
but some ragged shadow held me down
while it sucked more time from
my life than just the few hours
I tossed in her arms. Maybe
it would be different if you
were here, too. But then nights
would be too short.

The Final Movement of Spring’s Symphony in C Major

The muted roll of a tympani
nudged me from my torpor,
as more of the rhythm section
rapped steadily upon the roof.
The wind sounded like strings
stroked long, given vibrato
by shivering maple leaves.
Lying there, I felt the musical
tension swell, as if waiting
for the conductor to signal
a note of resolution.
The house lights flickered, as if
announcing intermission’s end and
I’d yet to more than sip from
my nap time cocktail. With another
bass drum thrum, louder than before,
this audience of one at
at the window to enjoy
Spring’s orchestral finale
of this year’s residency.

Photo ©Joseph Hesch 2014

Cuckold of the Balm of Hurt Minds

I cannot fight you anymore,
you’ve whittled away
my strength and resolve,
you’ve perverted my instincts
for self-preservation.
I thought it was merely
my obsessions, as much
a part of me as breathing,
my thoughts of this or that,
of her or another her,
that trimmed the ends
off my healing time between
lights-out and pre-dawn awakening.
But it was something stronger
than even the reins of any
preoccupation with the regret,
the maybe and the unattainable
that are killing me in the
too-short, too-broken time
from when I close my eyes and
the few hours until you rip them
open, unraveling this sleeve of care.
Oh, Sleep, why in these my
final days have you forsaken me,
taken your warm caress and
healing gifts from my bed
as would a cheating lover.
I knew you’d become a harridan,
but not, as well, a heartless harlot.

Sleep has returned to her position as the “ossessione di tutte le ossessioni,” the paramount obsession of all my many obsessions, in this miserable dead-man-walking life. The reasons for her desertion are many, but the results are the same—disjointed jeremiads written at 4:45 AM after maybe five broken hours of pathetic toss and yearn, when my brain is firing off short-circuiting sparks I cannot suppress nor control, other than to chronicle this broken relationship I have with a third of my days. This “death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast,” as another poet once wrote.

Restless

I didn’t know if she awoke before I did or I before she. I only know I could feel her eyes upon me.

Just not her touch.

“Yes, another restless night,” I said.

“No, you didn’t keep me awake,” I lied.

The ceiling did. Consciousness did. Worry did. Old truths did. Fantasies did. Longing did. Guilt did. I did. But I couldn’t tell her that.

“No, I didn’t know I kicked and thrashed all night,” I said. But the covers lying in disarray on my side told a different story. One where if looked as if I ran and swam and crawled my way across this No-Man’s-Land searching for somewhere to tuck in until the barrage lifted. But dawn lifted first.

I looked over at the clock and, as it has for the past weeks, it taunted me with a left-hand number less than six.

“I don’t know if I can make it today,” I said, sensing that sinking feeling in my chest again, an emptiness like it had been crushed dry. But I knew I had to get up and bump my way through another day, fighting off the sleep that never quite came last night.

“No, I haven’t dozed off again, just…gathering myself,” I said. I’d been locked in another bout of the woolgathering inattentiveness on the daydreams that substituted those I never had at night anymore. Night had become a wasteland of artillery flashes, reds and yellows and whites cutting through the darkness, after which the colors of days were smothered by the darkness of exhaustion.

“I wish I knew,” I said when she asked why I’d had another rough night. But she knew why as well as I did.

I took a deep breath, sighed it away like I’d sighed away another restless night, filling the room with wordless exclamations, near-silent calls for rescue. Sighed it away like I sighed away the covers on my side. Sighed it away like I would this day and the last and most likely the next.

But before I pulled myself from the ravaged percale plain upon which we lost another hope without a dream to support it, I kissed my fingers to reach out and touch her, to let her know one more time. But they came to rest upon her empty pillow with which I shared these nightly battles between damned consciousness and blessed oblivion.

My very short story for Day 19 of my May 2017 story-a-day challenge. No outside prompt today. Just a carryover from the poem I woke to at that ungodly hour again. These too-short, dreamless nights can kill you, but they also can inspire you to dreamy inspiration, too. Until you finally drop…

Tangled Thoughts and Blankets

Another night of the toss and thrash
for reasons I cannot swallow.
Accusations of my alleged misdeeds
echoed ’round my bed, this room,
my life, now left so hollow.
I couldn’t have been so callous
as to ignore the doleful stares and
angry glares stealing my sleep all night.
Were they merely the burned-in faces
of the sun my eyes projected,
after my apologies rejected,
and so gazed too long into its light?
And now dawn leaks over the sill
to fill the room with morning.
Another night lost, adding to the cost
of two lives I ruined without warning.

The Lullaby of the Night

Night holds her mysteries close,
within the folds of her velvet cloak.
This is the garment in which she intends
to wrap you, to transform you into
another of her secret children she holds
so snug you can hear her heartbeat.
Perhaps you’ve perceived her wordless
poem in iambic meter, the soft something
that goes buh-bump buh-bump in  night,
as you enfold yourself within her embrace,
full of hope to escape the blinding realities
of day, where you’re but a speck of dust
among its billions of souls, rather than
night’s only child there in your bed.
Alone, even if you’re lying close enough
to another you can hear their version
of night’s mysterious limping lullaby.
Buh-bump, buh-bump, buh-bump, until you’re
a castaway floating alone in the soft, black
embrace of another of night’s passages
to tomorrow.

Day 17’s NaPoWriMo poem, in the form of a nocturne, a musical composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound.