Primary bodily function
Air, warmth, water, sleep.
In that order.
Before pride, dignity, love, laughter, sex, music, friendship, family, blood, food, eyesight, speech, humour, anything, everything.
Your heart becomes a murmur,
Forever flickering like a spent fluorescent bulb,
A broken insect on its back, kicking at nothing,
Wishing its legs would just let it rest.
You know enough to know that you are not intact,
But not enough to know if there is any way back,
And then, to shut you down,
They poison you with tiny capsules that turn your blood metallic and cold.
It frightens the part of you that got lost in shopping centres as a child,
Fearing your mother would never find you.
Except now you know that no one is looking for you.
No one even knows you’re lost.
Reptilian, motor-oil blood.
Blood that never sleeps,
And when it does,
It wakes up screaming.
Give me more.
Or I will take away more.
There is always more to take away.
You cannot go on any longer,
Because you cannot switch off any longer,
And the nights do not end any longer,
While the road to home grows ever longer.
When you stare into a lightbulb,
A persistent halo remains after you look away.
The same can be said for madness.
The same can be said for terror.
Waking up from constantly being awake,
Waking up, not knowing where you are.
Waking up, far from the people you love.
Waking up, to a life that is not yours.
There are breadcrumbs here somewhere.
It’s going to be a long walk.
Gord Laws – 2016
This is a tough one for me. It’s from a set of three poems I wrote when I was trying to encapsulate my experiences, nearly dying from acute insomnia. I had dealt with the condition for about four years, but kept it under control through medical treatment. In August 2016 though, it reached a breaking point and nearly killed me. Days at a time without sleep was hell, but the medication, which seldom worked, was worse. I eventually found a specialist and a programme that got me back to normal, but it was a long hard road. It was, and to this day remains, the darkest period of my life. I hope it stays that way.
See also: The Cousin of Death, Event Horizon