Thursday, July 16, 2015

Insomniac Perdition - Chris Hart

Guide me, Virgil!
What stratum is this,
That deprives me of
Energy and sleep both.

A wearied mind,
Running Sisyphean
Circles around rings
Downward into my pillow

Sinking deeper and
Deeper drowning
But no breath comes

Just choking awake
Wakeful with worry
About awake
Why why why

Abyssian architect,
Who gave you the right
To deprive my mind
Of clearest sight?

Why do I wait and awake
Again awake cannot form
Firm the hate awake hate
Self world you hate awake

Let me sleep slip away from
This awful nightmare
By lapsing finally
Into sleep deep sleep.

So, reader, this is an unusual poem, even for me.  I sometimes suffer from insomnia, or at the very least, symptoms of insomnia.  For the past week or so, I've had real trouble falling asleep.  I typically get into bed between 12am and 1am, and lay awake for at least four hours, sometimes up to six hours.  Laying awake in such a state, exhausted, but unable to find the sweet respite of sleep, is a special sort of hell.  Earlier this week, as I grappled with these demons, I wrote this in a stream of consciousness at 5:00 am.  I had been lying awake for nearly five hours at that point, unable to shut my brain up, or to shut my body down.

It felt like I was drowning in wakefulness, choking on air, and unable to sleep (and find wakefulness and clarity in my dreams, ironically) no matter what I did.  I invoked Virgil, as if I was on my own journey into the Inferno.  What hell can there be apart from utter denial of respite?  In the third to last stanza, I deliberately wrote clearly, to underscore the difficulty I had creating cogent thought in that torturous state.  I think when contrasted to the rest of the poem, its clear rhyme and meter form an effective "breath of fresh air" amidst the confusion and struggle of the rest of the poem.

I deliberately did not edit this poem in order to make it more authentic.  I'm unsure how many of you can relate to this form of mental torture, but I felt compelled to write the poem anyways.  I assure you, this was genuinely written under duress in the wee hours of the morning, after an unbearably sleepless night.  If you, reader, like me, occasionally suffer from insomnia, I hope that you find rest soon, and sleep well.

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