Gray and green the morning came,
gray and green the woods and vales,
and black the copse without a name
amidst misty meadow trails.
The dreams of night’s restful sleep
linger as figures half-dreamt
in fog amassed like flocks of sheep,
sky and earth a fleece half-kempt.
Who is that among the fog?
Who is that wandering, lost?
The soundless field is as a bog
which all sleepwalkers must cross.
Had I such a sluggish gait
when I woke this early morn?
I see a figure halt and wait
as if unsure—as if torn.
Rousing, drowsing, in between,
he waits but a moment more,
then shuffles forth, beyond the scene
of gray and green, as before.
Gray and green, the earth and sky,
gray and green the morning come,
I witness with half-curtained eye
this somnambulist’s kingdom.
The sweeping shadow is so sweet
as the wind sighs through the window’s veil,
cool and soft as the silken sheet
and the dreaming mist which we exhale.
A train of fairies passes by
amongst fireflies at a merry pace,
the stars mottle the westward sky
as the freckles on a lover’s face.
Like dawns over worlds never known,
dreams come gently through the inner night,
but waking from what dreams have shown,
waking eyes are full of fairy light.
From shadows fallen come the fears
which shroud the mind and make it shiver,
the dregs of life distilled with tears
in a bowl, the brain, all aquiver.
A dark sea lay below a bluff
brimming with the dead, draug and wight,
the froth flung upward, fierce and rough
with the strife of Nix—an endless night.
And over this the wan moon glows
like the blind eye of a ghoul in search
of graveyards with their stones in rows
where the ravens and gargoyles perch.
And the stars are a crimson swarm
gathering in the funeral cloth
while clouds roll past, a Sluagh storm
passing through, faces twisted and wroth.
Is it the soft shore
to the sea of dreams?
Is it the linen moor
of seams and what seems?
Tis a nightly nest
from whose feathers rise,
the fledglings flying best
with unseeing eyes.
The hood of night hangs heavy upon my head,
weighted down with wearisome worries while Hypnos
unburdens the brain with fabric beseeming a bed
as a temptress shamelessly unwoven of clothes
lays both bare and bold, her halo-arrayed hair
frizzed with the hazy animal heat
to consign the storm to climax, and then still, silent air.
I would forfeit myself to Aphrodite’s vulval shell
were it to shut up and plunge within waters deep
where that tight-lipped harlot would tell no tale
or speak at all beneath the hushing ocean’s keep.
Alas, Zeus censures with his lightning strikes
to shake the heavens and wake me from rest,
the world trembling with judgmental spikes
which can kill the heart within a sad-sighing chest.
For we are all acolytes in these heavy cowls
proselytizing ourselves in anticipation of the Truth
which relaxes even the bitterest, most determined scowls
that sneer with a Polyphemus eye or a Hydra’s tooth.
The River Lethe calls so mutely to one and all
with the sweetly flowing song of “Naught”
as we sag beneath the cumbrous folds of a shawl
and long to retire to oblivion, as we ought.
Let us bow our heads in soundless prayer
to that most sacred of songs, Silence, the purest peace
in which there disturbs not a draught of holy air
as we each of us nod off into quietude, without surcease.
Shun Apollo, that lord of the lyre and of the light,
and, of course, Zeus, the throne’s thunderous thief,
and Helios, the charioteer whose light-hoofed flight
chases Stygian shadows unto endless grief.
Shun all who would peel back our hoods
as if we were Lotus-Eaters squatting in a gloomy glade
or errant youths lost in the wondrous woods
while the duplicitous dryads offer us shade.
We are men and know enough of wrath and woe
to value Silence above salt and silk and gold
and gods, too, for even they, in their souls, know
they were born of that deafening Silence, so sacred and so old.
from an unnatural schedule.
These witching hours exhaust
as if carrying the witch’s
atop the crown, and its sheer
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.
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
seeking the huddled wretches
of our sleep-starved synapses.
vampires seeking crypts
to blot out the enlivening
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
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
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.