“FOR LACK OF SLEEP, I WILL SURELY PERISH”
– A SYMPHONY IN FOUR PARTS

based on the four developmental stages of Fatal Familial Insomnia

WILLIAM JAMES

 
 

Stage 1:
 
             wide-eyed open stares in freshly chlorinated pools,
             a dull burning redness eating away at eye-whites
             legs trapped in amber. pine pitch sticks
             wet on fingers. body wants to run. molten lungs
             breathe toxic fumes through chapped lips.
             every wish for rest consumed
             every thought choked in fog
             every motion held captive at half-speed

 
 
Stage 2:
 
             Go, now, to that place where you can only swallow
             water. That screamless cave of upturned rivers & shaking
             leaves, the hive of wasps stinging through forest bark.
 
             Go, now, to the hollow neck of woods frozen
             in stutter, the electricity of twitching tongues. Inhale
             the flies. Turn their wings into pinpricks of light.
 
             Go, now, to that place of syncopated pulse. Tap glass
             restless on teeth, blood rushing through your head.
 
             The castles are collapsing in. The eyes deceive
             & the skin is made of locusts & of dust.

 
 
Stage 3:
 
                         Now the sun sets bruised,
             clings like spider silk below
 
                         breath-fogged windows.
             Ash rains on tongue,
 
                         thunder trails to
             harmless smoke.
 
                         Lavender fields wilt & wither,
             granite pillars crumble
 
                         like the sparrow’s bones.
 
 

Stage 4:
 
             Drenched with panic, blanketed in sweat. A storm settles
             over a cemetery smothered in clouds. Kerosene haze
             obfuscates the skyline. A blood-eyed mare, her chest a city
             of scorched oak, stands & waits for the sun to weep. Now
             give heed to the specter’s chimes, the decrepit ghosts rattling
             at the rungs of ribs. Give heed to the hollow cacophony,
             the ravens feather-shivering their dance. Splinter your fingers
             to sharpened claw, carve your name into glass. Carry volcano
             in your throat.

 

 
 

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