In A Far Cry from Kensington, Muriel Spark wrote:
the quality of insomnia depends entirely on what you decide to think of.
I don’t suffer from insomnia. Ever. I do have a few sleepless nights. And when I do, I tend to try and write poems in my head. The repetition is often just as effective as counting sheep.
When I have talked myself to sleep with a draft poem for a few nights, I usually walk down to the village and sit in the hotel bar and fiddle with words on paper while I have breakfast. And then I walk back and listen to the words in my head again.
Perhaps the fact that a lot of the revision process takes place while I’m walking explains the fact that the dominant metre in so much of what I write is iambic.
The following is a different take on Time passes. As usual, it’s posted here as a draft, rather than a finished poem. I particularly don’t like the list format.
Sleepless at four a.m.
your unchanging breathing
tells me you don’t hear
the noises of the night:
– the constant river
– the church clock
– the velvet owl’s hoot
and the answering screech
– stray dogs hunting… A snarl
of cats tumbles through the dark
beneath the window and you stir
only to sleep again. I listen
to your breath and count
the seconds till you wake.