A Sleepless Night

I composed this poem one night when I couldn’t sleep. It was also partly inspired by hearing about an ancient method of hunting where two or three hunters with only basic weapons would run for days, pursuing an animal until it was exhausted and then kill it. In the poem, I compare the process of trying really hard to get to sleep to this kind of hunting.


Through the wilderness of night, I hunt sleep

Spear in hand, I try to run her down.

Sleep waits, bating her breath,

She is a dark shape, crouching in the apple tree

In the moonlit garden, slipping away

Across the shadow-dappled lawn.


Sleep pads, lynx-like about the house,

Until a board creaks and she leaps

Startled, into the dark valley of the stairs.


The headlights of a passing car

Wash the bedroom wall with light

Her onyx eyes blink; and elide

into the buckle of a belt upon a chair.


As the light blue of a spring dawn

Filters through the window blind, sleep wearies

She sighs out; gurgling like the radiator pipes

As the heating comes on.


At last, I run her to ground

I thrust my spear deep into sleep’s heart.

In her death throes, she cries out

With the sound of an alarm clock.