// Personal website of Chris Smith


Published on Feb 9, 2022

Sleep: that sublime state, placid and serene,
when problems of the day proceed away,
forgot, replaced with legion fantasies.

But why is it that sleep, so essential,
is also stubborn, unobtainable?
Instead of falling off for forty winks,
you lie awake and in your head instead
the dreary daytime difficulties dwell,
and multiply and maim and magnify.

Then, as if that was not enough: some more.
Clock watching. Meta-worries. Fight or flight.
Each second twists and lengthens into years
while primate brain prepares to wage a war;
but money and work are not predators,
year-old mistakes and faux-pas are not threats.

At times, for reasons unexplainable,
sleep comes: the problems fade; normalcy reigns.
And sometimes the circadian gods smile,
sleep happens orderly each day for weeks.
But the good times, too, have dark undertows:
insomnia is lurking in the west,
a-waiting, seeking to retake her throne.
Perhaps she can be banished utterly?
If you know: answers on a postcard, please.

This was an attempt to write in iambic pentameter – where each line consists of 5 pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables (i.e., da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM). It’s a style used in lots of traditional English poetry and verse, most famously by Shakespeare (e.g.: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”).

It turns out I’m terrible at figuring out which syllables are stressed or not. There were a lot of dictionary lookups to try and figure it out.