Insomnia by Brian McAllister


Now all your world seems so terribly clear,
the dripping faucet’s metronomic tick,
the settling wall’s creak. You seem to hear
the slow sagging complaint of every brick
and know how all these things you have are quick
to tell you of their solid hold on you
and what you can and can’t afford to do.

Tossing, sleepless your brain can wander back
to fret how life has reached this circumstance
and ponder what has put you on this track—
the deals you could have made but wouldn’t chance,
that girl you were too shy to ask to dance,
this job, your days at school, each hope and fear,
each small step that contrived to put you here.

You’d like to think your life was neatly planned,
but you know that the choices you have made
were mostly those that simply lay at hand.
So when you’ve unraveled that tangled braid
of what could have been, you are left afraid
that you watched life happen without a fight
and it is far too late to set it right.

by Brian McAllister

Editor’s Note: This poem uses rhyme royal to brilliant effect—rhyme, meter, and repetition all serve to emphasize the mental torture of insomnia.


4 responses to “Insomnia by Brian McAllister”

  1. Keith Snow Avatar
    Keith Snow

    So ABABBCC, I’ve never noticed that rhyme sequence before Brian. You used the device so well! Great piece.

    1. Brian Mc Avatar
      Brian Mc

      It was a common scheme in the 15th century. It gets revived from time to time. Notable examples are Wordsworth in the early 19th century and both Yeats and Auden in the early 20th. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      1. Keith Snow Avatar
        Keith Snow

        Thanks for response, details

  2. Kathleen Chaffin Avatar

    Kudos. Most excellent.

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