Night after night, insomnia takes its toll. It comes in many forms, a constant waking mixed with tossing and turning, an inability to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time, and my personal favorite, the inability to fall asleep at all. I have found a fellow sufferer in Harry Calhoun and his collection, The Insomnia Poems.
Calhoun exhibits an incredible mastery of imagery to breathe life into the dead of night. He stresses the importance of the company you keep when your own mind betrays you and won’t allow you to find solace in the night; but regardless of the curse insomnia can be, it has its blessings. It gives you the time to think, and the complete lack of distraction that daylight cannot provide.
Calhoun takes us through his feelings about both of his parents’ deaths, and in one poem, the aftereffects of the death of his dog, Alex. Some discuss the absence of his wife, as well, though in most she is the anchor that holds him and brings him back into the world of dreams.
Once again she reaches out
and her fingers cling to yours
pulling you gently, softly
finally into sleep.
(from “Insomnia, with Love” p. 11)
Through all of the nightly madness, Calhoun is always able to come back to a place where he appreciates life and all that it holds. As he says in his poem, “E.T.A.”:
You’ll sleep until you wake,
you’ll live until you die,
and what matters is what’s in between
and what you dream. (p. 9)