© 2012 by Michael L. Utley
I vomit out myself again each night
When lights go out and tired thoughts awake
To find that darkened mere from which to slake
Their thirst for dark dominion. In the bright
And sane pedantic musings of the light
Where every thought, word, deed presumes to take
On tones of gilded gravity, I stake
My soul against the coming evening’s fight.
The day is done; I’m with my thoughts, alone
And sleep cannot—will not—this night prevail.
My mind, a dynamo, begins to race
And images appear as if they’ve grown
In some dark, dank and fetid fen. I quail
As my true self confronts me, face to face.
I see myself most clearly in the dark
When eyes stare listlessly into the gloom
Of my unlighted silent little room
And clarity has never missed its mark.
The diff’rence between day and night is stark,
Where shadows rob the flower of its bloom
And night-noise bespeaks harbingers of doom
Who from abyssal shores will soon embark.
There is no madness here; there is a shift
Of light to darkness only, but in fine
It colors every thought a darker hue
And ushers in a sort of seismic rift
That sullies every fruit on every vine
And every thought and every feeling, too.
The day’s lucidity reduced to lies,
I gaze at the abyss and there I see
On some far distant shore another me
Whose own lucidity is in demise.
The shadows—living things amid the cries
And cruel cacophony of things that flee
The light—surround me as if to decree
To all assembled, “This is where hope dies.
“What’s done in daylight holds no power here.
We’ll strip the varnish from your petty dreams
And rid you of your sanity anon.
For daylight is a poor façade for fear
And reason ineffectual when screams
Will render moot the light you count upon.”
And once again, like every other night
The battle lines are drawn upon the sands
Of sleep not yet attained, and on these lands
Depression pits the dark against the light.
And once again, like every other fight
I fall upon the ground, the shadows’ hands
Upon my throat in icy burning bands,
All thoughts of hope now fading out of sight.
And then from distant shores of the abyss
Across the chasm, lilting in the dark
A plaintive, calming voice, a gentle weep
Touches my mind, my soul, as if a kiss
Were sent to me upon a winging lark:
“Seek sleep,” it says to me, “let go, seek sleep.”
And I give in and in surrendering
I leave behind the darkness and the din
Of shadowlands where battles rage therein
And naught is won or lost. And that’s the thing
That catches in my mind just like the ring
Of distant bells, discordant in their thin
Attempt to quell the heart surfeit of sin
In any man whose sleep the night won’t bring.
And leaves unanswered still my current plight:
Is truth found in the darkness or the light?