by Hank Grizzly
Gully-washed into a nosedive of self-pity and regret
& longing for recompense,
Under the sidewalk,
Emerald beaches in full sulphrous air,
Silver streams of syllables plucked out of everywhere
Like the fox eluding capture,
Breath elided from the wind
Like lovers stealing out behind the last-call jukebox of a midnight dive,
A blues alley illuminated in pale green fire.
Lightning crackles across the darkness and ripples off the banks of Nantahala clouds
The rain pours down onto the backs of cows.
They never seem to mind.
Now, fresh-stoked floodplain! Rising tide of silt!
The heat is gone that sunk two and two into each other
Each thrust a moaning lilt,
Hips clutching lips that touch lips and clutch bottles,
Their faces shine under the radiance of moonlight,
Moonlight mingled with the wits of bastards
Back into the limbs of those who fear the sun.
The cattle braying, lovely mischief done.
My hair grows long.
My fingers curl.
I long for newness. Take me under, meanwhile,
Take me where I wonder, sitting placid in the belly of the beast
As Moloch’s flaccid steely tentacles rise to churn an evil yeast.
Take me where I wonder, as I say
I’ll lie awake awhile, and then I’ll pray
I’ll turn myself around today.
Men argue ‘til the stars turn green,
Suicides parade across dreams
Slipping silk smokescreens of deception
The truest act
And who will tell the amorist
Oblivion’s so loverless?
Artificial noise of busyness anxiety
The stoic sentry of my heart,
Youth calls to age across interminable days:
"What have you found?" he says,
"What have you sought?"
Is the heart imprisoned by this summer?
Snarling under sundry songs of birds,
My breastplate, hollow, yellowed, barely rises as it stirs.
It longs to be cast down into the old pit.
It’s grown weak before it could grow strong.
We idle-chested, laying languid in the park
With half-averted hearts to shield bright eyes into the dark—
Tickle of grass—
My love is gone since May.
June soured all the sweetness that it sucked away.
My sweater’s come unraveled,
Cacophony of pills
Shook down my throat each morning like a nervous fire drill.
DNS lockdown! Teeming network of filth!
Poverty encoded offshore in gleaming scrivels of HTML and cascading sheets of dust,
Each one more fussy than the death it brings to us.
I cried at Americana’s wake but still got up and danced to Drake.
One day, we’ll each dance alone on Mars,
A starving bloody hustle of zirconium cars
Pedestrian novelties, heavy with guilt.
We’ll blast them into the stars.
Red Indian ice, an ancient Hebrew prophecy fulfilled
My consciousness’s progeny, I willed myself into oblivion
Over thoughtfulness’s misty lake.
The heavens beam with wonder at me. I crack my watch’s face.
Age calls back to youth across the tender years:
"What have you found?" he shudders through the tears,
"What have you sought?"
We don’t converse anymore; we just regurgitate bits of articles we’ve read.
At least it makes us laugh.
But how else to proceed? Youth won’t seek age.
What’s the adage?—Age is wasted on the old.
It’s all a waste: youth to spoil, and time to waste
Milk to curdle white as bridal dresses tight around the waist.
My hair grows long.
My fingers curl.
I’ll wear expensive German sandals, drink only carbonated wine—
The bubbles tingle what my wife’s dry tongue no longer tickles—
I’ll walk along the beach and sigh: my father, I.
I am Siddhartha dreaming in the river
Why must I kill my father to avenge him?
Why does my dog look right into my eyes?
She has a liver and a brain, just like me.
She sees the city gleam in supernatural ecstasy but can’t hear thunder.
A pack of 27s and a can of mountain dew. I’m halfway home. The motor’s broke.
Thank god I’m a country boy.
We who are young are old, and unbelieving.
We have no faith to set between our teeth.
Believe us and be saved, we cry, who have no faith.
I know pablo
the real noriega
Everything’s free as long as it’s coke zero
This is hell
"Through the bound cable strands, the arching path
Upward, veering with light, the flight of strings,—”
Insomniacs always know how to move silently through a house at night.
There are fears of disturbing workbound roommates that keep the key from rattling too loudly sliding through the lock from the outside, and elevate the heart rate while keeping breathing slow.
There are feelings of guilt, lingering patches of self-loathing borne from some Freudian pseudo-insight discovered in the throes of a sweaty nocturnal revelation on overcoming intentional underachievement, that keep footsteps soft—rising over the hardwood just enough not to drag—and dull across the kitchen tiles into the bedroom.
There are few sounds quieter than the click of the latch in the insomniac’s doorjamb.
There are soft and liquored female voices lilting down from the balcony above that dull the almost certainly unfounded anxiety caused by the sounds at the end of a just-before-bedtime bowl of cereal: a quick little splash of sugary milk on steel, and a blast of tap water off the side of a pan.
The cereal, it seems reasonable to argue, is a forgivable offense—there’s usually only one meal that happens after you get out of bed at 4 p.m., and, anyway, who could fault someone for wanting to enjoy a Saturday night and not go to bed hungry?
It’s the bed’s languid creaks protesting the fourth trip up to the bathroom in as many hours that are the real issue, and they are rightly admonished by a Cough—surely, an Asleep Cough and not an Awake Cough—delivered accidentally through the wall by your doubtless undisturbed roommate.
Self-created neuroses aside, insomniacs in general are more adept at the basic skills of deception and roguishness than good sleepers:
Cautiously using a smooth and calculated manual dexterity to stay unheard,
Being constantly conscious of others whom it is your nightly responsibility not to disturb.
There is nothing inherently immoral about phase-shifting your basic sleep cycle 90-180 degrees away from everyone else, but the senses of alienation and loneliness that come along with trading 8 a.m.—2 p.m. for 2 a.m.—8a.m. make it easier to self-identify as a deviant.
These feelings of isolation help turn the guilt of broken social norms into fuel for a growing set of megalomaniacal fantasies.
In the new hero narrative, the protagonist’s genius is at first misunderstood—the world must reshape itself to better accommodate his personal idiosyncrasies before he reaps the comfort of fame and adoration that was always his birthright.
This makes it easier to believe that the suffering caused by daytime sleeping is a necessary step toward the insomniac’s eventual and inevitable maturation.
A person no longer bound down by bleary eyes and a crippling addiction to afternoon coffee will quickly become a productive and healthy adult taxpayer.
It might be hard to believe that overcoming your addiction to consciousness will mean utilizing the clandestine abilities you’ve gained from sneaking around at night,
But if the long, painful path of your transformation draws you to the bedroom door of a snoring roommate, whose wallet contains a credit card that could instantly fund a purchase of any ticket to anywhere,
It might not be a bad thing that it is second nature for you to open bedroom doors unnoticeably and hover silently a few steps into a room, pausing to ensure there’s been no change in the roommate’s breathing patterns.
The conclusion that it is not wrong to use your roommate’s property for yourself, if you really need it and he definitely wouldn’t mind, was achieved quite a few roommates ago, but this seems like a step too close to true perdition.
It might feel wrong to betray someone you love, but remember that your path has already brought you this far into sin, this far to the left of the moral majority.
Think of this as your last indiscretion, one more indulgence of the habits that will soon cauterize into character traits unless they are stopped now, one last push Eastward to the airport that will whisk you a thousand miles West.
Even when performed late at night to an unconscious roommate, the act of robbery itself will elicit surprisingly little guilt.
It’s possible you’ll barely even remember holding the card in the light of the LCD screen to type its numbers into the airline’s website to pay for a Sunday morning plane ticket.
Packing your bookbag full of clothes will only take a second.
You might even sleep, triumphantly, for a few glorious minutes as the taxi speeds away from your apartment and over the bridge at dawn.
At the airport, the lines at the check-in counter are always long, baggage handlers are lackadaisical, and young sons almost gleefully disobey their mothers before travel-frazzled Midwesterners and shiny pinstriped businessmen.
Combined with the soft din of the air in sterile pressurize plane cabins, these social stresses cause some people to see travel as a long series of inconvenient obstacles to be overcome judiciously with paperbacks and packets of gum,
But as the plane takes off, a near-forgotten feeling of blissful empty oblivion will seem to envelop the whole white cocoon of the fuselage;
The humming air will be as calming as the water in the creek that ran through the backyard in your boyhood.
Even a cold, carpeted airplane chair can provide your backside with deep sensations of fuzzy comfort and satisfaction after the weight of sleeplessness has been lifted.
There is no excuse, at this point, not to smile as you take off your shoes and squirm snugly into the chair.
There is nothing more satisfying than the guiltless feeling of finally falling asleep with nothing to wake up for.
There is no act more righteous than falling into unconsciousness just as soon as your eyelids touch each other.
Insomniacs, once cured, sleep deeply and soulfully.
There is nothing, now, to hold the eyelids open and to twitch the leg.
When the plane lands, there will be a single proud moment of metamorphosis;
In the new heroism, the protagonist wakes up lively and animated by the freedom of a mental slate wiped back into purity,
Animated by the vigorous nothingness that clears his path headlong into his inescapable destiny.
Newly transformed, he will sleep straight on his back at night and wake up with his heart and the sun full in his window to the East.
There are things in life worth remembering, but it is better not to hold on to the molted remnants of past sufferings.
Eventually, it will be a distant memory that you had ever denied yourself the greatest human pleasure of truly earnest and empty-hearted sleep.