Teetering on the Edge (of sleep)

Tossing and turning,
turning and tossing.
I refuse to look
at the clock with its
bright dial, plain
as day in the night.
But the hour is late
and it hounds me,
bothering and heaping
upon me all sorts
of layers of woe.
My mind worries
and thinks, makes
up stories that trip
me up and makes
my mind worry…
and mulls over
nothing pleasant.
I feel like a motorized,
hopped-up, agitated
version of a woman
who should be asleep.
It makes no sense.
I have a subtle but
palpable, physical
humming to my body.
Adrenaline seeps
in quick bursts,
with every heart
beat, into my
No sleep, no sleep,
no sleep, no sleep,
no sleep, no sleep.
Peeking out from
under my sleep mask,
I make out the outline
of the dresser and
the batik of some
obscure Thai goddess
that hangs on the wall.
A shot of moonbeam
illuminates the room.
It’s not dark at all.
Even the night is
awake and restless.
I will not get up.
I breathe deep,
in…and out…
calming breaths
will tame that
monkey mind.
Soon I feel it
giving up and
letting go.
I recognize that
sense I feel right
before I drift off.
At last it’s here,
and before I know
it, a dream is taking form.

Bill Webb is our host for Meeting the Bar over at dVerse Poets with a nod to Rilke:  http://dversepoets.com/2014/09/04/mtb-guest-post-by-bill-webb-a-nod-to-rilke/

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  1. Oh – I hate that time when you can’t sleep – it rarely happens to me, but Jan is a very light sleeper. How you must wish for the sleep of little Mia ( I hope I got the name right 🙂 )


    • Thankfully it doesn’t happen that often and once I get to sleep I’m a pretty deep sleeper. Mira (just missed the ‘r’ in there) is a great sleeper, at least when she’s taking her naps during the day. But I hear that she likes to get Mom and Dad up sometimes in the night so she can get in bed and cuddle with them. Thank goodness it’s them and not me! :~)


  2. I have nights like that. You have captured it exactly. Sometimes I read to get myself sleepy. Sometimes I count my breaths, from one to eight on the inhale, then one to eight on the exhale…that often works because I get bored. Some nights for no apparent reason I am wide awake and open-eyed as the hours pass. I read a lot, those nights.


    • I usually read before bed too and sometimes the reading doesn’t help. Last night I felt pretty tortured for a while. Oh well…


  3. sounds like a nice dream to drift off to…two nights ago i could not sleep…it was ridiculous…i had that hopped up adrenaline feeling and could not shake it…i hope you get some rest though…you make sleeplessness almost a good thing..ha


  4. You could be writing about any night of mine. I have learned to stop fighting it, to read or play solitaire until I know I will sleep again. We all respond differently I know but some nights I agree seem to last forever. Hopefully tonight you sleep a little better.


    • What’s interesting is how many others can relate to having this problem…why can’t we people sleep? Last night was better, thanks. Hope yours was a good one too.


  5. ah we worry too much, i think… you certainly captured the stretch of night when sleep plays hide and seek


    • You’re right…we do worry too much…and not even about important things either…it’s just silliness. Thanks for coming by.


  6. This feels like just what it feels like on those sleepless night. Sigh! 😦
    Well done, Gayle.


  7. The restlessness of the night.. those nights when we feel that stirring.. and then that moment of awareness when a dream starts forming.. impressive and accurately formulated.


    • Most of the time it’s from the mind not being able to “turn off”…but so sweet when sleep finally comes. Thanks for coming by, Bjorn.


  8. Sleepless nights are so difficult. You have conveyed so well the anguish, and also the fight with yourself over whether one should get up or keep trying to sleep. I’ve had these nights too & try to stay in bed, but sometimes at the approach of dawn my body relents & falls into needed sleep.


    • It seems to be a universal problem that we all face at one time or another…no fun but glad it doesn’t happen that often. Thanks for your visit, Mary.


  9. I hate that when it happens to me…..when I worry more about sleeping I can’t sleep…better to just daydream and relax and let the night cradle me to dreamland ~ enjoyed this one gayle ~


  10. You describe how I was last night. Sleepless nights are the bane of my existence. Hope you get some good Zzzzz’s.


  11. scotthastiepoet

     /  September 5, 2014

    Hey Gayle, enjoyed this well layered evocation very much… Regards Scott http://www.scotthastie.com


  12. I can so relate. I wrote a poem isomina dance a few years back. It is frustrating. You captured those feelings and emotions.


  13. …last night was just such a night and you have captured that panicky feeling in these tight lines..good.


    • Oh, so sorry about that. The longer we lay there the more agitated we get…which is not conducive to sleeping…right? A vicious circle… Thanks, Geraldine.


  14. Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

    ~Edgar Allan Poe

    I can relate to this poem in many ways. Wonderfully captured. Love it. 🙂


  15. …I thought you were going to end it with just dozing off and then… the morning alarm. 🙂 The short lines really help build the “tossing & turning” restlessness.


  16. Anyone whose ever had a sleepless night thanks you for putting into words the frustration, the holding on to the hope of sleep, and finally the letting go. Remarkable, Gayle!


  17. You captured the feelings perfectly, Gayle. I really enjoyed this (even if you did not – ha), especially “A shot of moonbeam
    illuminates the room.
    It’s not dark at all.
    Even the night is
    awake and restless.” I’m glad you were finally able to make it to sleep! It’s so important.


  18. Gayle, just getting reacquainted with your blog – I’m hopelessly behind on ever keeping up with everyone, but do remember I always liked your poetry. And this one I especially can relate to – sounds exactly like most of my nights. Sleep has become a precious gift, when it finally comes.
    You’re still on my blogroll – thank you for keeping me on yours as well. And hopefully I’ll be able to return more often from now on!


  19. Betty, what a nice surprise to find your sweet comment on my almost completely abandoned blog site! I’m in the same boat as you are with catching up with people and can’t seem to get my writing back in gear these days. I’m not sure why.

    I don’t envy you your lack of being able to sleep. Just one night of not sleeping well seems to turn me upside down. But I have gone through some tough times with sleeplessness which seemed to go hand in hand with anxiety for me…so I know how you feel.

    Yes, I’ve kept you on my blogroll and am happy you have kept me too…although my writing has dwindled to next to nothing. But just the fact that you left me this message is very meaningful…thank you, Betty. And I hope your nights become more relaxed and restful.

    Gayle xoxo



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