Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Michael Sharkey

Insomnia

Insomnia, like Wednesday, is another world
remote from those around it, scene of languor
in a film where time is slowed: an idle waiter
mouthing small-talk at the front door of a café,

pavement chairs and tables swept, the shutters open,
postman in no hurry pausing, veterans, gossips
drawn from dawn patrol in parks, apartment kitchens:
conversation could be weather, chronic pain

and vanished neighbours: mise en scène for things
to happen. But no stranger comes to town;
the hand-held camera pans from puss to puss
as if to check each one’s still here and still unchanged.

The movement’s vertigo; time’s jumpy, tops
the instants up with kalpas, what is time? Perhaps
these dawdlers are the people we have met
on screen or off, or shaken out of books or art:

they are familiar and at ease with being watched.
Wherever we are in the picture, they’re content;
whatever draws them to this meeting, every
recollection’s private, makes no sense to those

who live in other skin, including us. 
Whatever day it is, perhaps a Wednesday
in this state, could be a holiday, though why and
from what routine is obscure. Or if a workday,

then what day might be a holiday from this?
Do they talk races here? What horses or
what dogs? Nobody questions why this is.
Their words are fish out of their element,

their words Rosetta stones. They are immobile
on the bench they take their ease on: at their feet
the signs of efforts to draw djinns out of Scratch-Lotto
hiding places, and for scale, the village church

(what country are we in?), a hole turned
inside out that stabs the sky behind the line
of franchise shops. Up close, our friends appear
to speak in badly-inked thought-bubbles:

every word is indistinct, and no thought
volunteers to parley with another: people gaze
at middle distance where, like Wednesday,
time that used to be so friendly stares straight back.