Tag Archives: insomnia


Kaleidoscope thinking is what we turn to between wake & the subconscious. Whether ill or drugged or between dreams. Thoughts return to the first pattern. Colours bleed & lead the eye in one direction only to disappear. To become something else. Voices from the real world call from off-stage – planning debauchery. Discontent with the peaceless world, we chase release – deep sleep, R.E.M. We know it’s there somewhere among the changing colours, but we re-adjust focus & it’s gone. Ethereal in the darkness. A lost highway. We follow another colour, a game begins but ends in meaninglessness. We prepare an exit stategy, yet are somehow already in the next pen, the next room, the next Knightmare floor falling away beneath our feet. We sweat with frustration, side-stepping one patch of nonsense only to tread in another. The walls waver & flap in a breeze that fails to cool. Body hot, but skin ice cold, riddled with goosegrass & goosebumps. Heated by an internal furnace stoked by mindless slaves. A song is stuck on repeat. Like the kaleidoscope it seems to tune into the next line but fails. The key is lost so it repeats the last line again, hoping for more success. The colours are psychedelic but not endless. Eventually, sporadically, they become what they were. You have a vague notion thoughts are repeating, but you’re unsure. Whether ill or drugged or between dreams. Thoughts return to the first pattern. Colours bleed & lead the eye in one direction only to disappear. To become something else.


The Pro-Active Insomniac

In the solemn heartbreak of the small hours, the street is paved with whisky suds and gospel of past times and pastimes. The gutter that dreams are made of.

He is tall and stoops to scribble with his eyes a pattern on the tarmac. The girl in grey waits for him to approach. She sees in his face that he has not slept for days, maybe years. Waking time has drawn Saturn rings around his eyes, sketching a face that is older than its sum of years.

The girl in grey rests folded hands before her, long grey skirt billowing slightly in the 3 am breeze. When she blinks her lashes are like moth wings, frantic for a light not owed to creatures of the night. He stalls when her sees her – quietly waiting, as though she had waited for all time. He had not noticed her as he approached, but then lack of sleep fuddles him and he was busy scribbling the new order on the road beneath his feet.

He sees she is grey from dust and wonders what time has nibbled from the edges of her soft silhouette. He has written countless roads and walked countless books, but he is still stalled by the look in her eyes, as the moth-wings flash in the half-light. He scratches the tip of his interesting nose in indecision. He trusts chaos to bring him all he needs and all he doesn’t need, this has served his story well, for he always knows that something will happen. Whether or not it’s the right thing, is neither here nor there.

But now he is struck dumb in his abstract frame. Chaos has gifted him the girl in grey, but he must do something or say something. Or else she may well fall to pieces like the mist in his hands.

“You must be Nether Ed,” says the girl in grey.

Nether Ed crinkles with the kind of happiness the gutter can only dream of.


Pretzels looped in love heart shapes. Why can’t these thoughts leave me be? Haunting like the cat swarming round my legs. She wants cheese. She thinks she wants cheese, but actually she wants what’s at the centre of the pretzel love hearts. Remember the pretzel letters in Assel, Berlin? He thought there was a secret message but they expressed only nonesense. She’s restless. A nocturne disgruntled by the daily routine. The need to do the whole fucking thing again tomorrow. Same idiosyncratic punk routine. Neither agent of rebellion nor domesticated success. The bacon snacks, like artificial pork scratchings. So horribly brilliant and brilliantly horrible.

Can open. Worms everywhere.

I must’ve said that before but can’t find the place.  Searching the minature maze for a face that rests its nose close to the ground. It fills the space between tiny hedges & makes my stomach ache with neither hunger nor love. Constantly lost between the past and the future, not realising that THIS IS IT.

Dead Mouse

Remember me skulking into the kitchen like a cat. Laying out some offering on the tiled floor at your feet. Just anecdote or whimsy. Nothing that really mattered, but at they same time they mattered to me. You would look a little bewildered. Peering down at the mouse I’d so lovingly broken the neck of and laid at your feet.

Did you notice the detail? The inscisors slightly visible on a clenched lip. The trickle of blood so perfectlly formed. The facial expression stripped of life energy. I laid at your feet, a broken thing, having given up the good fight and accepted the inevitable.

You looked at me for a while as though I were a sweet, charming thing. A cute destraction. You feigned appreciation for the raw, rodent suppers I carefully prepared.

When I wasn’t looking you picked up the mouse by its tail, holding it away from you between thumb and index finger. No burial for the broken mouse, just a dustbin that smelt of cigarette ash and the urine of drunks.

When I returned I saw the empty spot on the tiled floor. The perfect trickle of blood by itself.

But you had thrown away all that I’d given you. You had crunched my vertebrate and left me broken. And still you looked bewildered. As though I shouldn’t have cared so much about a dead mouse, or bats in the attic, or fucking dime bars.

…The sound of your voice is distant now, still unsettling hairs on the back of my neck. I’ve stopped seeing your face. It’s just a disappointed smudge in the room.

Memories of the Future

It may seem a sad irony to hear that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is suffering dementia. His Nobel-prize-winning novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, begins with the family’s struggle to cope with a Grampa figure slowing loosing his mind.

I prefer to think in a nobel way Garcia Marquez fortold this. Dementia tends to run in families. The Grampa figure continues an ethereal existence throughout the novel and typical of magic realist philosophy the narrative plays with the idea that maybe madness is a kind of ‘true vision’, unable to fit into a concrete reality.

One of my favourite strange little episodes in the book is the period where the whole town contract insomnia as though it’s a contagious disease. None of them can sleep for weeks turning to months and while this makes them more productive, they begin forgetting first complex, then basic things. So they begin writing reminders. They hang a sign around a cow’s neck saying ‘Cow’, but then they forget what the cow is for so they write a sign explaining the cow produces milk which is nice when added to coffee.

It’s this playful imagination that captures the heart and carries the reader through the tragic themes of the book. Of doomed romantic love, disasters of war and a family struggling to come to terms with each other.

In true Garcia Marquez style we should not be sad to think an incredible mind is lost from our version of reality. He is simply in a different (and probably more interesting) place.

Over & owt

*Note – apologies if I’ve misremembered any part of the book, this is the version in my head. And it’s bloody good!


I was thinking of the scene in Amelie when he leaves the cafe and she melts into a puddle on the floor.

“Y’can’t expect it to be easy,” Posey said. “You’ll have gapin doubts you’ve done the reet thing. You’ll hit ‘the wall’ and think the only way is to go back and try again. But it’s broke. You knew it were broke when you walked out. You think you wudha put yissels through this if it wont?” She ran a hand through mussed hair and sipped her second morning brew.

It was too early for breakfast. I shivered in my hoodie and looked at the glum Northern sky over the flat roof. Mizzle was forming around my shoulders and dampening my soul, but I needed another smoke.

I sat rolling it with hands that shook barely perceptibly. Anxieties threading in my blood stream.

“Of course you miss her. You’re crashing now,” she continued. “This is the come-down. You’re body is begging to feel better. If you don’t sweat it out and just put more shit in your system, you’re just putting it off for later. And later will be worse.”

The marathon metaphor… the druggie metaphor. They were all so easy to say. But neither lasted for endless weeks. Neither summed up the sense of loss and failure and the rising yowl of doubt which hissed and fizzed to the surface. I was a crumpled bit of scrawled-on paper stuffed between sofa cushions. A little piece of insignificant history which would sometime later be summed up in a casual sentence. The details of petty arguments forgotten because they never mattered anyway.

I lit my rollie, puffing life into embers with sagging lungs and charred lips. Ash formed sluggishly on the tip, eventually falling, dissolved in the feint rain.


Nothing is real. A dream of a dream. The vain wisp of hope which keeps dying in tears and a feint weary sigh. The beer tastes of something optimistic. But the goosebumps quiver and gather and spread. Heart doesn’t so much beat as clench with an impending sense of doom.

My reality feels utterly fragile and earnest. Yet they seem to brush it off like a pesky insect. You’ve made your bed.

If only it was a bed, I could sleep now. The cocoon. The warmth. The dreams, however uneasy. Though the dreams would be akin to the waking nightmare. Walking but not sure where. And my limbs ache with the weight of treacle. And all the roads look the same, twisting into dead ends and private places. So I continue walking. Continue waking. Stuck inside a dream and a real life that both repeat because of tiredness.

Tables vacate and then fill again. How much time has passed? And who knows anything about the man in the moon?

I fall into achy love as quickly as I discard it for a more sensible option.

Stream of conscious has no place in town-planning. We are a lost generation. Fucked beyond all recognition. We licked the icing off the cake and then realised we’d spend the rest of our lives owing that icing.

Nausea sneaks in again now. Maybe for the pretty music. Maybe for the fish. Maybe for the rum.

Everybody looks half familiar, like versions of somebody else. Like a remake of a former episode. Or the re-enactment  of a crime. The social element takes precedent. What I would give for the social element.

A slightly bald man with a beard keeps carrying chairs through the door. I’m not sure he’s real.

I want to bawl like a small child. I want to scream murder so blue. I want someone to talk to, but I have nothing to say. Hyper-awareness is a drug I cannot recommend. Paranoia isn’t suited to my palette.

Words skip before my eyes. I care too much what the waitress thinks of me sat here alone. She’s probably indifferent. Most of us are. They’re playing so many songs uniquely familiar to me it’s almost spooky. The whole sequence of events is like high-performance nostalgia. So many memories crammed in, they’re forgotten before they’re recognised.

The clock only gets slower, fades to nothing, stops ticking. It only ticks when it wants to keep me awake. Now it’s no help at all. Except for breaking all those promises. I’m a burden upon the human race. Upon an Earth which cannot cope with the weight of my eyelids.

I think I’m having a mental breakdown. But I decide to do it quietly. In a solitary way. In the shade of boredom and regrets I don’t have because I don’t believe in regret.

I’m cold but I don’t know if the world is cold. Maybe I have a fever.

The light dims inside and out. Suits loiter, reading. Chairs appear from nowhere. Cocktails have been supped and gossip shared. All in the space of a blink. I wait. I wait inside a weight. I’ve been forgotten, lost, abandoned. I may as well wander the streets like a bum. I’m just killing time and by fuck, time is killing me.