Dedication for this work goes to SOFREP brother Mike, who claims the Creator told him to check on me recently because I was in trouble. He was spot-on
I’m a sleepy man, that I do fancy myself. I should have been a Ranger because Rangers can fall asleep immediately and under any and all circumstance. I want to be a Ranger and reacquaint myself with slumber. I just want to fall asleep and dream again, because to sleep without dreams is a lie, it’s lying in bed nothing more.
A nightmare is not a dream. A nightmare creeps to you unawares and dislodges an otherwise serendipitous dream, one that you can never recover. A nightmare is a bully and a cheat. To sleep with a nightmare is sleepless, just as a breath of wine is breathless; it’s purely a most taxing form of drudgery.
Why say that you ask?
I love sleep
sleep loves me
but sleep and I quarrel profitlessly
Even now I note the time on my clock as 0309. It’s winter and that means it is zero cold thirty outside. In my head is sleep ache, a headache that you get from a lack of sleep. It won’t go away just to spite my misery.
I could never have a clock with a pendulum in my room. To watch it oscillate would captivate me for hours and tug at my sanity. Poe knows the deal. A Bavarian Cuckoo clock would only mean the once-hourly gruesome death of a tiny flightless bird. I had such a clock at one time, you see. Its miserable tick-tocking life lasted for a grand total of exactly 60 minutes.
I like sleep
sleep likes me
but sleep and I fail to ever agree
Soon my clock will read 25 or 26 minutes to 0400hrs, It will be 25 or six to four. That’s a true story, there, how the rock band Chicago named that hit song in the 1970s decade. Clever men, those, whether they fancy that of themselves or not. Far be it for them to harbor a high opinion of themselves. That’s the nature of the emptiness that fills my head at the wee hours. A mind on no sleep is a terrible thing, I tell you in earnest.
I hate sleep
sleep hates me
sleep one day will be the farewell of me
Oh dear, some good stiff drinks will put me to sleep for certain; they have many times in the past but at a considerable cost. Hey, a recoilless rifle is awesome in the attack, but its backblast can kill a man in the most hideous fashion. Well, Goddamnit. There’s always a payoff or a payback. Yin doesn’t travel well without Yang, especially during the afterlife, the life after midnight.
Why can’t I just have my few drinks and hit the hay? I’ll get up in the morning; I always do. But drinks don’t play well with a belly full of Ibuprofen devoid of any food substance buffer. That duet over time can drop a body dead in its tracks with a tum-tum full of blood and owie. You can’t have them period, the drinks you can’t, not and still presume a prophecy of sleep.
I loathe sleep
sleep loathes me
drinks back then were the answer, you see?
Cocktail-induced sleep is like a breath of water; no breath at all. Such slumber is a dreamless event that produces a nap largely fallow of REM events; it’s unproductive toward recovering a body from the day’s toil. It’s faux sleep. Dreamless sleep is unhealthy for the mind and over time exacts a dangerous toll on the human psyche.
I need sleep
sleep needs me
sleep will come around eventually…
Sleep is a fickle bitch to a man like me. It backs into me and without notice, it snags me only to fill my person with heinous nightmares to the point that I snap awake and promise not to sleep ever again lest I fall mad. Nighty-night. Enter Sand Man to quell that taunting bitch… better end soon, my friend.
Give sleep words, the deceit that does not speak. It whispers to the or’ fraught mind, and bids it snap.
“Ok kids, time for bed”
“Awww … mooom, but we want to stay up; we’re not even tired yet!”
“I know, I know, but you have school tomorrow–off you go. But first, come give your ol’ “mooom” a kiss, and don’t forget to give your father a good-night kiss as well.”
I skip dad because I have a plan, you see: tomorrow is brother’s birthday and mother is baking him a cake tonight after we go to bed, so she doesn’t have to deal with us kids fighting to lick the frosting bowl.
Brother snores lightly in the lower bunk. Standing in my dark room by the door I peek out and down the hall. I can see the frosting bowl on the table. When she takes it away that means she is frosting the cake. Five minutes later she will be done. That’s when I make my move.
Leaning against the door jamb I peek down the hall every few seconds; frosting bowl still hasn’t moved. I drift in and out of a feeble slumber while standing, my head leaning against the jamb. I shake myself away suddenly, alarmed that I had fallen asleep. A quick peek reveals the bowl is gone, but for how long?? EXECUTE!
“Sorry dad, I forgot to give you a good-night kiss” I look back at my mother as she is just finishing frosting the cake. Her eyes roll so vigorously in her head that I fear she may take to a case of the vapors and keel to the floor.
“Alright, alright … Come lick the dang bowl,” she caves with sarcasm, and I do. This was not my first day at this you know.
Back in my room, I climb to my top bunk, midst the soft snores of birthday brother below, unaware of the frosting feast he has just missed. I revel in the chocolate taste that would taint my reverie as I dreamt, as I plunged into a certain sleep.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord, my soul, to keep
If I should die before I wake…
If I should die before I wake…
I SHOULD DIE before I wake
I pray the Lord, my soul, to take!!
It had been so simple in those innocent days. “What really has changed so much?” I wonder now as a man Laying bed with eyes open wide searching for rest. All I see is myself on the edge of the Grand Canyon, gawking pitifully at sleep standing recklessly on the other side giving me the finger: “Come get me, BITCH!” it begs.
That’s ok though, a belt or two will show that finger-flipping’ sleep who’s who. Sss’right; a few belts always will bring oblivion. Nightmares are scared of oblivion and stay the hell away from it. Sleep will cross the canyon but slip in an imposter, a stand-in that looked and acted just like sleep… but isn’t! I will still wake up on time in the morning and, seeing my reflection in the bathroom mirror, will wonder where sleep has been all night.
even one fleeting peek at the mirror
sees my facial lines growing clearer
and on and on
bringing viral hate for impending dawn
What’s this then? Sleep without chemical coaxing? Why, alas, so it really is! But now I hold a hammer with my strong arm, I do, and I’m beating two men to death with it. One dies quick but the other lingers tenaciously. I pound his head as hard as I can with the claw end. It digs in deep tearing out skull and scalp, him spouting oaths all the while and making declarations of every sort and I pray: “I pray the Lord, my soul, to take… my soul, TO TAKE… MY SOUL TO TAKE GODDAMNIT! You just don’t really give a damn, do you Lord?
Ain’t that just the way
everyone’s got their role in life to play
incumbent on you
everything you’ve ever done comes back on you
Despite a sleepless night, there would be no nodding off at the wheel of a driving car, no head bouncing off of my desk at work, longing for a quick nap. I never have a problem staying awake, me. No, all my woes lie in trying to get to sleep. Would that I could take a nap in the day I dare not, for fear that to sleep at night would be an even more so sealed impossibility.
sleep’s with me so please last a year
but it’s become a nightmare I fear
just a half wink and no tricks, I say
alas just a hoodwink–God cart me away!
And so it goes.
“Heeeyyy, Sand Man. What are yoooou doing here, my man?”
“Hi geo, heard you were so very sleepy tonight and came to usher you along; got fresh clean sand to sprinkle in those peepers.”
“I don’t know about that, Mr. Sand Man. Most of the time you throw dirt in my eyes, dirt that turns to mud when mixed with my tears and keeps me awake all night long, bro.”
“That was never me, geo, I promise you. Here, here’s some soft clean sand. You have a good night sleep; love you, little brother.”
“Awww … Thank you, Mr. Sand Man; I love you too, big bro.”
“Sweet dreams, geo. See you tomorrow night.”
What a great guy he is, that Sand Man. They don’t come any better, I can tell you that. I think of my great fortune of late, if not at least just for this night alone. I think of it for several minutes, and then many minutes, and then over an hour, all the while blinking at the neutral gray of the ceiling above… that neutral gray, the color of dirt mixed with tears. “Here’s mud in your eye, Mr. Sandman!” says I as I heft my glass to toast the dawn.
By God and with honor,
A’s’teur je vas pour me coucher
Je prie au Dieu mon ame guarder
si moi je mort avant lever
je prie bon Dieu mon ame amener
(translated by author [Français Acadien])