So, have I ever mentioned that I’m something of a poor sleeper? Yeah, I thought so. I’m the type of insomniac that has little difficulty falling asleep; it’s the staying asleep that kills me. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up at least three times a night, and when I do the mind reels. I find myself fully awake and suffering from panic attacks, of sorts. I don’t necessarily suffer from any sort of staccato breathing; rather, my heart rate increases as I think about every decision I need to make, every task I need to complete, every hardship I need to endure. Furthermore, I’m the type of insomniac who, once awake in the morning has no choice but to get up and start my day. There’s none of that “Oh, it’s only six o’clock, I’m going back to sleep” nonsense. Instead, I pop out of bed and start up the drip-pot of coffee. I grab a mug and pour a three-count of sugar into the base. I busy myself for a moment so as not to stare at the coffee pot, praying for it to finish. And then, because I am too impatient to wait for it to finish brewing, I remove the pot, fill my mug, douse it with half-n-half, stir, and drink deeply.
“Dog of Insomnia” is sort of an odd poem that I wrote during my MFA program at Emerson that made it into my thesis. It’s a good eight or nine years old by now. I always liked it for it’s oddness. I always liked personifying insomnia. Do I own a dog? No. And yet it felt like the proper vehicle. Perhaps you dog owners (and insomniacs) will agree.
Dog Of Insomnia
Why do you insist on making the typical eyes
to inform me of your hunger when a nudge
from your cold nose would do? Enough
with the guilt already. And why the wagging
tail of happiness, that instant signal of joy
that may be wrongly offered, since a car ride
might mean Vet instead of Dog Park?
These are the questions you’ve kept me up with
nights when I’ve told you my tossing
and turning was the result of too much coffee.
I lied. Shoot me. But, Dog, before you do,
consider what it would mean to blow away not
the hand that feeds you, but the entire body —
taking, in your case, is a result of what is given,
since you aren’t the sort of canine who makes
wandering a habit. I ask you, Dog: when’s
the last time you remember rotating clockwise
the doorknob between your hairless front paws,
quiet in your calculation so as not to wake me,
knowing all too well that should I rise
intuition would kick in, forcing me to chain you
to the post of the bed in the extra bedroom
no one sleeps in? Despite your endless howling,
your full-on thrashing of the comforter
by way of teeth and claws I’ve let you keep,
no one comes or goes but me. Bark all you want.
Hope the dust-bunnies teeming in the corner form
a front, and give aid to their instinctual enemy.