Some days it's as if a lack of sleep
fills the head's intricate channels with water,
all clear thought clogged, like caves flooded deep
by a king tide of dread that soon seems
as if it could soak through all time,
steep the mind in unnatural fear, as if birds could grow afraid of open air.
Perhaps for the self to hold its own air
it must be played in the key of sleep:
the body an instrument that over time
we must keep pitched, soaked in night like a reed softened in water,
while dreams tune the mind's strings with a touch that seems
as precise as if the musician's ear cranes deep
down within the fibres, so deep
it hears between each particle to the air
that shimmers as present and loud as light seems,
when the moon jackknifes through the blinds, slits sleep,
spilling dreams like the kind of water
that clarity, happiness starve for: element gentler than time.
For time and time
again it can take us deep
towards our real selves: water
back to its source, or a rainbowing sea-shell out of the air
that dulls it the way all our musts corrode us to numb and half-asleep,
as we push ourselves from duty to duty that seems
each year, less to do with the kind of love the sky itself seems
to promise when you wake as a child: that time
the world wears all its spangles so bright and particular it's as if sleep
is a cloak that snuffs a carnival promising deep
secrets, delights, which the adults move through easily as air.
That trust, openness: your eyes water
just to think of how the truth can turn a miracle in reverse: wine to water,
fine costume worn inside out, baring its ugly stitches, snarled seams.
All your own dreams, aspirations, feel rank as air
let out of lank balloons: high time
to turf out all that cheap dross about yourself you once thought might be deep —
hell, can't you leave it alone, switch off this inner racket? If only you could bloody sleep:
one good, solid, thick, long end-to-end sleep that seems so deep it could belong to the innocent,
the damned, the drunk, the long-time teetotaler, a golden, textbook, non-existent baby or its
narcoleptic grandfather breathing dream-sweet air, jesus, bring on the blank of the drowned-in-salt
water: yes, tonight you swear you'd even take a slug of the very last sleep of all.