Insomnia: A Short Story

The television’s on.

It’s freezing in here.

I should probably be asleep, but I’m not.

It’s 4:53. It’s always 4:53, when, click, the heat turns on.

Now the draft from the window’s competing with the dull heat, which smells like last years dust, pouring through the vent, above the door, which leads to the living room where the TV’s still on.

In about an hour the sun will be up and it will be another morning.

I can’t tell yet whether or not I’ll be excited or scared, but either way, I have to write my grandmother—thanking her for the letter she sent a couple days prior—she used to fill the cards with glitter but doesn’t anymore…

Perhaps there’s a glitter shortage, I don’t know.

I’ve been pulling my beard out again, which I don’t like, but still do. Why? A doctor would probably claim it’s nerves but by this point in life I know better than that.

It’s funny really, thoughts, how they come and go as easily as a hair can be plucked from your chin.

If I had eggs in the fridge I’d probably boil some for breakfast but I don’t have any because yesterday while shopping I’d debated prices in my head for what seemed like too long to be debating prices of eggs, causing an uncomfortable feeling I just couldn’t shake, making me anxious and aware that I’d been standing in the isle for what seemed like eons though was probably only a couple minutes, still, too long to be debating whether or not I wanted to pay 2.39 or 2.99 for a dozen of eggs.

The heat feels good now, while the right side of my face warms up, the left side is still dealing with the draft from the window.

Common sense tells me to close the window though my better judgement says to just let it be. What’s the point, really?

It’s 5:06 now. It’s always 5:06.

The repetitive nature of this statement keeps recurring in my mind as if the idea isn’t fully mine, though I use it anyway.

Perhaps it’s my conscious mind coming back to me? Perhaps it’s programming I just don’t have the strength to deny, either way…whatever.

It’s 8:08 on the East Coast. My mother’s probably pouring coffee, reading the morning news. My brother’s probably already dragged himself from bed and into work. My nephew’s to school. My sister-in-law to her studio where she makes jewelry from metal and her imagination.

Their routine gives me comfort because right now I don’t have one.

This pandemic has us all in a pretty weird state of affairs, though, my affairs have always been pretty weird now that I think about it.

At least I’m writing again. That’s good.

Everything is pretty all right right now—knock on wood.

And what if this is as good as it gets? Hog wash.

At least it’s warm in here, closing the window, watching the sun rise.

My nail beds are long. I’ve always been told that. “You’ve got piano hands,” they said once, go figure, I don’t play—if I did this would probably make for a better story though, well, you know.

Turning off the TV seems irrational as it’ll just get turned on again tonight, unless, unplugging the TV—Ah! That’s better.

Insomnia, it’s the breakfast of champions.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the letter.

Alone, together

Where are we

but forever

Alone, together

in the cosmos

of our love.

Austin’s Iced, 2020

You just have to live.

Being sober’s

as overrated

as being drunk—

nobody wins.

You just have to live.

Whatever you decide, do it without the need for validation—we are one.

Whatever you decide, do it without the need for validation.

To seek validity is but a farce. It’s like aiming to make a splash in a rain puddle.

A child learns early on whether they care to admit it or not, that their choice is theirs and theirs alone. Nobody really cares more than it takes them to realize, eventually with age, that nobody really cares.

Sure, a mother cares deeply, but only as far as it interrupts her well being.

A father can break his back many times, but only as many times as it serves his cause.

Progression doesn’t come from an audience. Progression comes from within.

Progression comes from love, awareness, and nurture.

And although social media tells a different story from reality, we seek it, crave it, we often need it, but do we really?

Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from posting our day to day lives, morality, and hardships is that we are all equally as alone as we are the same—myself included.

Not too long ago, there was a time, it seemed, the world was much larger than we could ever imagine.

Driving cross country felt then like an achievement whereas now—after doing it more than a dozen times—it feels more like a routine I’d rather not admit.

Mostly it’s this that scares me.

Desensitization. It’s this that makes me wonder.

What’s the point?

The point is to treat yourself with the same dignity you would a stranger—a child.

The point is to look beyond life’s blessings, with eyes wide shut, and understand that all will be regardless of whatever validation you seek.

We can learn this by simply looking at a flower bloom. We can understand this by accepting that although, it may seem, the flower dies, another will take its place, as equally and wholly as beautiful as its former.

So whatever you decide, decide knowing, you aren’t as separate as you feel—we are all one.

Long Island Cottage, 2012

A kick in the head!

I will always be curious

and allergic to cats.

Ain’t that a kick in the head!

Manhattan’s in the Village

You know what they say, don’t yuh?

Can’t live with em, can’t live without em

But don’t get me twisted, I’m not talking about women

though the skin beneath my tongue’s still sore

my heart’s still heavy and well

there’s nothing quite like seeing her smile come morning

but anyway like I was saying to this jug of doom

in the evening gloom where I choose not one but two

and then two more to boot because, well, hell

who am I kidding? Nobody but the moon this evening

cause it’s this bitter sweet feeling

the kind you feel deep down in the rumbling, stumbling night

where it all gets so far gone, where nothing meaningful is born

where it all makes some sort of convoluted sense

and alas, once again I am but the floorboards dull creak

where I am like the riverbed flowing calmly and discrete

where life is but a dream and I am dreaming once again

of you dear friend, rustling like the leaves at my front door.

Oh dear friend, how I long to walk the beach again.

How I long to hear your sick, silly, sweet voice again

like those long ago up all Friday nights of old

all those Brooklyn winter blue’s and yellow streetlights

guiding us home, or at least to Crown Fried Chicken where

like two youthful bums we’d scavenge our pockets for change

enough to buy a couple chicken wings, coke, and pint

enough to settle the bone, cold, sidewalk snow till home

where we’d fall arm and arm up stairs

to that old wood, smoke filled, railroad apartment you’d call Grove.

And though I don’t often pray, in my own little way

I do for you now as I did then, driving back to my Long Island apartment.

I pray this little song of self, this little song of you, this small token of my appreciation

for your boundless soul and effortless style and class.

I ate too much cheese, I’d shout while holding a kitchen knife to my throat!

Where in a Polaroid our youth is kept,

where so many nights while you slept I wept,

where you’d give me your bed for a smile,

where I’d talk with Forest about everything and nothing for a while,

long enough not to feel alone in that maddening, crazy New York glow.

So I write this little poem, not enough but enough to show you

I’m still listening through the terror behind the walls.

Dear friend,

How are you?

I can’t live with you, but hell, I can’t live without you.

Manhattan’s in the Village

God knows we never had the scratch, aligned

I feel inclined to take this time and offer you my best

impression not impressed?

CALL ME SPIDER! CALL ME SPIDER!

I just had to get these salami’s off my back.

I just had to sing this short praise of you Mac.

skull and crossbones

At the end of the race

make em say:

to hell with these eyes they’ve seen too much

this tongue is all rotten with tasteless buds

what ears are these they’ve heard enough

and liver? What gall you, it’s all washed up!

His sole’s so worn, all callus and rough

even nail beds torn up from climbing so much

lips like a canyon, dried, cracked and his blood

it’s cheaper than whiskey, diluted with love!

To hell with his soul, heaven’s full and what?

His brain, are you mad? It’s pondered enough.

What use is this flesh, it’s ancient as stone

he’s breathed his last breath, he’s skull and crossbones!

It’s all understandable. (for every no one who ever was)

To be honest

and be open

put yourself in

her hands like you’re a toy.

There’s a reason

for each season

pollen eaten

her wind cradles a boy.

They know nothing of us,

and we

know nothing of them.

We all

just sort of pretend.

We’re bitter still.

In the air there’s a bitter chill.

Like a car crash

I tell you that

it’s not too bad

we both just try not to stare.

In the glove box

there’s a snuff box

full of coupons

I keep in case that you cared.

The leaves on the ground,

remind me

how powerless that I am.

It’s natural to fall down,

we all

just sort of try to fit in.

Leave me alone, no don’t

leave me alone.

Memories fill my head

like waves

crashing down on the shore.

Just as soon as they hit

cast away

back to the ocean once more.

To be bitter

or be broken

understand that

this is for no one who ever was.

footnotes in nursery rhyme

Got up this morning ahead of my time

shook fear from my hair and tears from my eyes

took to the mirror and spoke to this guy

who said he knew me from before —

it’s there that he unlocked the door.

He gave me a sunrise he gave me his hand

he told me a secret I could understand

life isn’t a journey or destination

it’s your choice to choose to buy in —

for me it’s better not to win.

So I sharpened my memory and tore out his tongue

recycled the organ from which I’d dislodged

filled it with the secret and sealed it shut

if X marks the spot then I’m fine —

love’s just footnotes in nursery rhyme.

Connecting the dots which soon filled my head

aligned with ideas I spoke with each step

life ain’t no cake walk or deal with respect

it’s your throat or mine well of course —

I’d take mine to spare you the course.

It’s kill or be killed so I’m on my knees

no fear any longer just tranquility

it’s obvious ain’t it half hearted pity

runs deep like the roots of despair —

no one’s got the cure or should dare.

So with that in mind one swift hit should do

a hole in the head hell it ain’t nothing new

I was head over heals now I’m sinking through

the clouds which look soft from afar —

at the end of this there’s only dark.

With all things considered it’s lovely I guess

like spilled paint confetti this hole in my chest

I’ve dug it before since third grade I guess

my actions speak louder than words —

it’s all been a blessing and curse.