Each night’s become another
recitation of a rosary strung
with whispered Ave Marias
disrupted by the calls
from a father never seen,
a judge ever recognized.
This circle of fine filigree
inevitably will lie broken,
perhaps tossed under the bed
with rest of the best forgotten,
like the kind of secrets
that arouse you just before
you come to the crossroad
metaphor of a rising son,
that sacrificial cross, the sign
This is the ritual I perform
each night, attached to a chain
linked to the miracle
of that blessed kind of death
lasting only a little while.
Five of the last seven nights have been this way, broken into decades of fruitless near-sleep. Nothing new, just nothing so recent. Once this was my obsession, then my obsessive literary theme. I’m hoping to break THIS particular chain with a new poem from my old, sleep-deprived brain.
They each hold their positions
of conscious unconsciousness.
One on her side, her back, her side,
gently rolling in a sea of slumber
only a child floats upon.
The other, in his soft chair,
head back, closed eyelids a’twitch,
whispering the tender tuneN
of the chain saw’s lullaby.
The house is quiet, save for
the call and response of
the gentle snores of toddler,
grandparent and furnace,
all keeping harmony with
the breathing of nearby homes,
each suspended from the dreamy
winter afternoon sky by tendrils
of exhalation from their chimneys
swaying in the breeze
like a nursery of cradles.
Any similarities between this scene and mine and my granddaughter’s afternoon here in cold and sleepy upstate New York are completely coincidental. Yeah…sure.
The afternoon lies so quiet you can
hear the air breathe from the heating vents
to the ceiling, where it swirls and drops
like a lover’s whisper on your pillow.
You never enjoyed naps, such siestas
seeming to embezzle from you, skimming their
time-is-money cut from something your sure
you should be doing…if you could only
stay awake in your recliner.
You’d arise from those afternoon suspensions
of consciousness and verticality feeling
worse than when you reclined.
But that was before you turned 60.
Now you crawl into these twisted trysts
with the post-meridian Delilah
who stole your once Samson-like strength
(and hair). You fight her Morphean
ministrations until she strokes your brow,
untying the knots in your expanding forehead.
She draws you into her somnolent embrace
with sultry promises, warm upon your face
like the dreamy promises of that expectant lover.
And you fall for her once again.
finally swallowed me,
I sank below the surface
into the blessed death
that isn’t The End.
There’ve been times
I’d have accepted
from which there’s
no catching your breath,
no ellipsis, and
never any question.
This time, though,
the bliss I miss
in its arms,
carefree and numb,
until that rarest treasure,
opened my hooded mind’s eye
and there you stood.
Must’ve been a dream,
because you loosened
sleep’s sweet embrace
with an unsolicited kiss,
something that’ll haunt
my ever-restless nights
Bedtime poem about bedtime.
It’s strange how some mornings
I wake up before the sun,
and a light I cannot see
goes on there in the dark.
Even with my eyes closed
I see things I haven’t seen
in a long time. Most likely
because I’ve kept my eyes closed.
It happens more and more
these not-quite days, when
I really would like back
those extra two hours of sleep
these vivid visions stole
in the blackness of this room,
where I thought I shut everything —
doors, eyes, mind — long ago.
Maybe it’s our hours I wish
I hadn’t lost that want me back.
You’d think otherwise, wouldn’t you,
but sleep has never come easy for me.
Not the tucked-in for the night sleep,
not the snuggled close and content sleep.
Mine is the toss and turn sleep,
the stare at the ceiling dark so long
my eyes adjust to see shadows you’d
never see. Shadows I don’t wish to.
I’d never wake you to tell what I see.
I can’t. If I reach right or left
all I can feel is empty.
Covers twisted and fallen, I turn over
and tell my pillow, but a pillow
will only echo what you lay upon it,
no spontaneity or warmth other than
what I put into it. And still,
sleep evades me, or teases me with
a veiled unconsciousness that lasts
maybe an hour or so, over and over.
So the thing I crave most
is the thing I most fear and despise,
something in the dark that pulls me under
and spits me back out like words
I never said except here. That might be
why sleep does not come easy for me
as it does for you. Because you sleep
just fine, right? Tucked in for the night
and snuggled close and content.
Another night, like so many other nights. Haven’t written about my bête noire in a long time. This morning I couldn’t help but.