Graveyard Shift

Natural deadness
from an unnatural schedule.
These witching hours exhaust
as if carrying the witch’s
midnight-black cauldron
atop the crown, and its sheer
unwieldy weight
nods the head toward surrender.
To see the moon rise and fall,
marking its hurried progression back to bed,
and to see the clouds hang like cool, welcoming sheets
over that dream-teeming orb
is enough to make you envious
of that dead, silent rock.
Sunrise and sunset
were never meant to start a workday backwards.
It is as unnatural as
walking on your hands,
and makes you just as Jester-silly.
And how relative the joys of day’s splendors
when you live in the shawl of night.
Birdsong was once festive and beautifying,
an aubade heralding the coming day—
as bright and happy as a Summer’s sunrise itself,
yet now it is nothing but the inane warbling
of traitorous alarm clocks
splitting restful sleep asunder
like blaring bugles,
sunlight itself a duplicitous wretch
screwing into nightshift eyes
its Medieval instruments of torture,
all applied within the pretenses of enlightenment.
My circadian rhythms are
chaotic jazz fusions
of crashing cymbals,
schizophrenic saxophone solos,
and pounding migraine bass lines.
The rest of the world rises
as we lay down to bed.
The sun
casts out a startling seine net
and drags the floating mind up from
Somnus, the Sea of Sleep,
and brings it upwards, floundering,
hauling it aboard, bleary-eyed
as it is filleted with sharp wakefulness.
Graveyard shift— how much happier
we would be
if, true to that name, they buried us
in the Chthonian shadows
so we could finally sleep
away from the lances of light
ever thrusting downward;
the sun a perfectly spherical
phalanx of haloed cruelty.
The curtains draw,
the eyelids drop,
but with a whiplash of the head
we awake at birdsong
and the sunray’s trident plunge
straight into our
melatonin depths,
seeking the huddled wretches
of our sleep-starved synapses.
We become
vampires seeking crypts
to blot out the enlivening
chandelier radiance.
We become
caffeine-jolted ghouls,
or, perhaps, Frankenstein’s monster
bolted awake only to shamble about
in the semblance of wakeful humanity
as we seek a windmill wherein to rest,
only for our refuge to then
be lit up mercilessly by the legions of daylight’s
flash mob
and their wildfire torches.
Daytime is a holocaust upon the third shifter.
Each photon plummets
like a kamikaze pilot colliding
into scrambling pupils until the
blinking, epileptic explosions
awaken the
minefield brain.
This is war!
A blitzkrieg of brilliance
bombards the senses awake!
Wave the white sheet of surrender
and await the salvo of the luminaries
as you line up for
the synapse-firing squad.
Where, pray tell,
is this graveyard
where the sun never rises?
I should like to nap there, please.

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