I cannot fall asleep
For the demons will come out and play
But my eyelids are so heavy
And I’ve had a busy day
So I’ll take a long cold shower
And lots of sugar I will eat
Yet all of this is foolishness
For my body’s craving sleep.
The darkness is inviting
And for a while all is fine
Until my thoughts start wandering
And flow freely just like wine
The demons start their playing
And have made me their special guest
They sit me at their table
Telling me I have to rest
They twist and turn my words
They tie me to the chair
They’re dancing on the table
And they’re pulling out my hair.
They’re dragging up the secrets
All the ones I couldn’t keep
I’m begging and I’m pleading
Please, just let me get some sleep.
I wake up with a start
And for now I’m in control
Until I fall asleep
Then the demons rule my soul.
The NEXT Section. The Plain Dealer.
The Story behind Insomnia
Of all the poems I’ve written to date, the one above Insomnia, caused the biggest reaction. This poem was published 2.26.1996 in Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. My name and high school were both printed along with it.
I actually had readers calling my house to inquire about my mental state and “if I knew Jesus”. Now mind you, I went to a parochial high school – said so right under my name. Hell, we had chapel twice a week. I distinctly remember 3 phone calls for me, all from women callers, concerned about my spirituality.
The fact that some adult reader’s were reading poetry printed in the NEXT (News Exclusively for Teens) section was amusing and flattering enough. That they felt compelled to call was just icing on the cake. Alas, the curse of having too unique a last name didn’t help matters either and made me too easy to find.
I wrote this poem in Advanced Algebra Trig class, which was right after lunch in a very warm room. I always had trouble staying awake during this class. One day, the poem just sprang forth (instead of the variables I was supposed to be dealing with). The imagery was fun to create and to some extent it did feel like it was an intense battle trying to stay awake during class. So rest easy, readers: I have not actually be tormented by spiky horned, red devils.