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On Insomnia

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And contemplate this: the heat-treated hairdos of next-door
neighbors, the roseate nosebleeds of fuckboys in hoodies;
your own face, rinsed in the mirror, the sweet green sweat
you’re riddled with in mornings, a rock pool reflection under
algaecidal light. You are going nowhere. This poem yokes
you, to the pain you are chronic and adipose with; to the desk,
to the chair, to ergonomic purgatory. And to the body, its
spasms and its rhapsodies, three-part harmonies, one-chord
wonders. You will never be whole. The voices. His voice,
broadcast on your remedial frequency, making its way
through a rubbishy dusk, the streetlamps beaming fizzy glow
like Lucozade. You will never be whole. Vomit o’clock
and the brain is Kraken, white and shaking. Open the window,
pry the chipboard from the window; fill your punctured eye
with stars. And contemplate this: Saturday night and the dirt
purrs with it; cars, litter bins, pit bull dogs. A girl with high
Yorick cheekbones drags a false nail down the scratchy
surface of a bri-nylon sleeplessness. A man rides ignorance
like a white horse, kicking mirrors from parked cars. You
have the itch under your skin. Insectile dysfunction. Lust,
with its own murky gravities. You will fail. You have not
made a friend of this city and you will fail. Cup your eyes
like coins. Addiction holds such simplicity. Check your
used-car contours in the broken glass. You are going
nowhere. They cannot nail you to a pronoun, hot mess
of cravings and behaviors, tainted frailty, old meat’s
rancid rainbow. Ugly. Contemplate. Consider: your
lilies, toiling like deaf ears, tearing the tired night a new
one, stirring a sulfate dust in your veins. Your eyes
are blue with pseudo-scientific toxicity, with chemical
expectancy, a dread that dries a smile like paint. Your
blood is on fire, full of bellicose adrenaline, nitrate
and neon; brighter, even, than the hoary fluorescence
of angels. It is so late. And you are pining the rhinestone
shine of a lost narcotism. Now trauma’s your ergotamine.
Trauma, your ergot, your argot of rye. Awful thought
that treads the brain’s rank breadth. Silence. Pray silence.
Pray the dark room away, the candles, the pious vibrations
of flame; the dim bulb with its gospel of moths, one
hundred pairs of gloved hands clasped to powder.
Marooned in your gooseflesh, one hand does not know
what the other is doing. It’s three a.m., the mind’s alive
like frostbite, a cold burn that blackens things. Your
graphite smile could shatter. Thoughts of him have
poisoned you, rust in the blood. You have not eaten
for days, you mottle, run your own hands over your
oxidizing thighs, watch the bruises ripen to a landmass,
a landmark, a brave new world, a here be dragons.
You listen to yourself, creaking like rope; your body, its
canned laughter repeating mean and low, throwing
out thought according to the malnourished algorithm
some devil has devised. You clutch and sway in a crêpe
air and you want-want-want what you’ll never have
again: sleep; his image breaking across your scrubbed
flesh like surf. Contemplate this: this is forever.
There is no movie montage where you’ll shop yourself
to transformation. You will never be whole. And grief
is not a line we walk to wellness; the tidy smirk
of therapy, the therapized, the girls licking flakes of gold-
leaf pastry from a Pret a Manger croissant, saying you
should take up yoga. Grief is a longing in the body, your
body, the machine-tooled aesthetics of starvation. It’s
so uncool, a super-terrestrial emptiness; the acetone-eroded
teeth of your disorder. He will not come again. Sleep will
not come and make an amnesty of bandages, the white
ribbons rendering you prematurely maypole. It will not
wrap you. It will not keep you. It will not launder or
succor you. It will break into your ballerina box, will
chew the jewels from their semiprecious sockets, set
them pulsing in your frontal lobe. Your heart has
a headache. Drink raw egg. Or Dettol. It’s up to you.
The sky is pasteurized by thunder ... 

Notes:

This poem originally appeared in The Poetry Review. You can read the other poems in this exchange in the May 2017 issue.

Source: Poetry (May 2017)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Poetry magazine

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On Insomnia

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