Insomnia And The Eightfold Path Through Anxious Night

It is 3 in the morning.
Sleep won't come
like a woman scorned.No matter which way I turn
she turns away and disappears,
her blessed favors vanishing.

There is a pain in my hip,
the worry in my liver,
a tiredness from the lack of sleep,
yet no matter how I call her
through the control of breath
breathe in count to 8,
hold count 4,
breathe out count 8,
or change the counting to Om Ah Hum,
or chanting to the lotus in consciousness,
Om Mani Padme Hum,
or the old god Jehovah
Yod Hay Vov Hay,
she remains hidden in the darkness.
I am trying to establish the minds power
over mere materiality
through every twist and turn.
The covers impossibly tangled.

Until I take the pen and a yellow pad
in hand and start writing.
Letting the mind go from nothingness
to nothingness, epic of the void and
the pen runs out of ink and I change
to a blacker pen that works.

The sweat begins to evaporate
cooling my body. I notice the silence
in the depths of the night -
a car rumbles by in the distance -
and the hiss of silence reappears.

I am focusing now on the sound of silence
and my breath begins to slow.
I think maybe somewhere in the world
something has happened alerting me
through the hissing emptiness.
I'm tempted to turn on the TV,
but that way is permanent insomnia.
believing that every nothing
is really a something somewhere.

I want the ocean of breath
to combine with the ringing silence
and float my mind to the cliff
of consciousness and there
to leap into the welcoming
womb of the goddess of sleep.

Somewhere here is the paradox
of consciousness and voidness,
conspiratorial twins taking turns
bouncing me between the poem
and the silence and the darkness.

I don't want to put the pen down
for I would then be lured into
the desire for sleep and begin again
that tumbling from side to side.

I can feel the darkness strengthening
the words harder to find,
the mind somewhat slower.
I think, "Is this really a poem?
Will I type it into a computer file
in the "New Poems" folder? Or
will it waste away leaving only
the sweet embrace of sleep and
the expectation of dream?"

How long will this continue?
I am keeping so many worlds at bay
here in this tumult of words,
this avoidance, this play
this expose of the minds habitual,
rolling and rocking to the sway of rhythm
in the intervals between
the beat of the breath and the heart

Is this an exercise to help me sleep
or to stay awake? I think
it might just come to end
just sort of disappear,
with continuous periods
leading to the end of the page.
And I will either be awake
or exhausted and slip into sleep.

Will I ever have the nerve to read
these senseless ruminations aloud?
Will they bore everyone?
Or is there something here
or to come that is revealing
that will remind someone of their existence
in the meandering moments
that have tormented them
between sleep and awareness?

They will begin to write
in the silence of 3am, their minds
emptying out like rivers into oceans
all over the world and at the end
will be sweet dreamy darkness,
a Buddha Void, with the light
that was separated from darkness
flooding the valley of forgetfulness
leading all consciousness
from futility to serenity

Perhaps at this moment, 4:02am
everyone is awake scribbling
onto yellow pads their haunting melodies,
trying to bring the troubled, wandering mind
to the point of darkness that then explodes
creating the light of the world.

I think this is the end of it
This exploration of the empty space birthing
and the singularity that is all of it.
Perhaps sleep will come, or dreams,
or gods, or goddesses or dear death
will sweep up the shards and cast them
into the sea or earth and start
this whole universe over again.
but perhaps with a few new rules like.............

© 2003 - Allen Cohen

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