sleep: the final frontier

Sleep: The Final Frontier
These are the voyages of a hopeless enterprise
To coldly go where no number of hours
Are ever enough to give me power for my day
To keep me from being sour, my brain
Pulsating against my skull. Sleep for you
May be dull; for me, a challenge from which I cower.

Be it ten o’clock or three, sleep befalls not on me
Like it does normal people. Be it with drink or alcohol-free
Be it with caffeine or camomile tea
Be it an evening of sports or lethargy
Each night the same routine:

Brush my teeth and wash my face
Put on PJs, remove my specs
Turn off the lights, next, get into bed
Between ice-cold sheets and try to sleep.

The clock I’ve pushed across the room
Ticks, it tocks, it mocks; wish I had a rock to lob at it
Just as it drives me batshit, up the wall
Back out of bed I’m forced to crawl
I take the deafening mass of plastic
Wanting to be drastic and cast it into the wastebasket
Instead, I take a breath, and shake it
Rotate it, on its side lay it, pray that
It won’t cry and stay silent.

Frigid feet back to bed they lead
What follows is animal mimicry
I tuck my duvet evenly over me
Like a cocoon, striving for symmetry.

Then like a film, my imagination plays fantasy
Prose flows, unlike reality, lyrically
Difficult situations resolve themselves prettily, magically
My arm’s lost sensation; I’ve been lying on it awkwardly
It, not me, has fallen asleep. I’m still lucid
I’m so tired I swear I’m about to lose it
I turn onto my side, my other side, my back
Head left, right, arms under the pillow, tense, at my side, slack
I’m so exhausted I’m about to crack
What time is it? I’ve lost track
Finally, things go black.

I slip into a dream
Sometimes mundane, but usually extreme:
A nightmare where I’ve no voice, can’t scream
Being chased, my legs won’t run, can’t leave
In public, I’ve no choice, I’m naked
Oversleep, get to work, late, berated
Reoccurs, but it’s still preferred to that one time
My mom died, my best friend raped, I tried
To wake from this hell, my eyes
Won’t comply. At last I pry them wide apart, wake with a start
As I lie, thanking god it’s just my head that’s messed
My pulse I check in my neck and am surprised
My heartbeat’s steady.

I’m sweaty. I try to chide
Myself for these crazy fears. There’s a tear to be dried.
I gather the blanket tighter around me.
Around two or three, inevitably, I have to pee
Shortly later, greyness, day breaks
The base of my head, it throbs, damn it, I’ve again been robbed
Because bed never means rest.
Sleep, you elusive beast, for my sake, please
Please just give me some peace.

© Bill Watterson
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