The Boy Who Forgot How to Sleep

Even with the edge filed off,
Your fingers find my chalkboard.
Screw my lid on from the inside,
And try to punch some holes.

The strength it takes to hold four feet,
from the sharks beneath the see-saw.
The cycle set to rinse/repeat
The drum not quite in time.

Yes I cleaned the edges up,
And yes, I guess, I sat down.
But only long enough to hear,
The hooves roaring this way.

It’s futile but it’s noble. 
Or so I tell myself.
‘Cos all it takes is elbow grease;
A dull blade needs more squeezing.

Little electric shocks that flash each moment’s latent horror.
A heart that doesn’t skip a beat 
So much as get stuck in one.
Momentum equals impact when that speed-bump rolls around.

Yes I guess I’m better.
Better than fucking what?
Better, sure, than yesterday.
No better than myself.

Tranquility beats screaming.
So let’s cut out the tongue.
Manually shut down each night,
Declare the screaming done.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for it,
Or it would be too easy.
And that is worse than death, I guess.
Death looks too fucking easy.

With all this so-called progress,
One thing remains this clear:
It’s never been another way, 
Every second I’ve been here.

The boy who forgot how to sleep.

– Gord Laws, 2014

This poem is one that I actually stumbled across by accident, whilst uploading a series of three poems I wrote after surviving acute insomnia – The Cousin of Death, Scheduled, and Event Horizon. What made this extra impactful to rediscover was that I had just uploaded those poems when I found it. It was written two years prior to them, on the same topic. At that stage, I had found some stability through specialists and medication, making the illness temporarily manageable. But, as the poem foretells, I knew that equilibrium was fragile, borrowed, and ultimately would come crashing down.