Writing With Insomnia

It’s 5:50am.

I’ve had insomnia for the past two weeks, which means I won’t fall asleep until 7am even though I’m already exhausted and my dog is huddled against me shielding his eyes from the big star lantern glowing amber in our room.

What does someone do all night long with all those extra hours? I’m writing and internet window-shopping. Often I’m reading, reading out loud, sometimes stretching because I can feel my body dying under me. I hear the refrigerator pearling. I think fuck I don’t know where I am anymore.

I always knew. Last winter I turned away from myself and for the first time I know what all those boyfriends mean when they say, “I don’t know how I feel!” and we say, “How can you not know how you feel?!” and their shoulders tense up and they kind of half smile but in a starting-to-panic way and say, “I don’t know!” and hope we don’t get any angrier.

Sometimes writing is like that now. It’s really weird, and it’s really upsetting. So I get drunk. So I get drunk and then at least some words get written, and then I pass out on them. I record myself reading them in the middle of the night, my mouth right up close to the microphone. They sound dark and right and bare and I get to like myself again.

Blame isn’t a thing anymore. I mean I want to, but I mean I don’t want to, I mean truly what’s that ever done for us. If I’m anything I’m powerful. If I’m anything I’m defeated.

Every night another poet and I email a word (five letters or less) to a third poet, and that word has to be how we felt that day. This will become a poem in some way. It takes me 30 minutes to choose. It’s been one of the weirdest experiences of my life not being able to just open my mouth…and tell you.

What was I today – pleased, happy, trying, disconnected, thankful, something else? I know I had a hard time staying in reality today. I know whenever I watch TV I cry immediately when people say they miss each other and that aside from that I don’t cry. I put my clothes on and drink coffee and drink wine and work and try not to look at the moon because the moon holds a keen sadness. A deep insomnia, cold milk in a dark apt crowded in furniture and brass figurines and pots and someone’s empty shoes.

Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein is the founding editor of SOUND: a literary magazine on contemporary musico-poetics, and an associate editor for Rattapallax. She received her MFA in poetry from The New School, and her BS in classical vocal performance and literature from Mannes. Her chapbook, Quiet, was selected by Matthea Harvey as The New School’s 2012 Chapbook Contest winner for poetry. She is currently writing the libretto for Jonathan Dawe’s modern operatic re-telling of Tamburlaine. @Elkawildling


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