To sleep

For the dverse prompt.


They get you in the end, dreams,

you lie eyes closed, refusing to wake

and see the rain, the bills lying

on the doormat, reminders, final demands,

the sickly light in those eyes that

used to be so bright. They draw you back

into the sticky, sweet sheets of oblivion,

but the faces always morph into monsters,

the next door you open lets in the zombies;

and the dreamworld has no money back clause.

Better perhaps to wake and face the strange,

the twisted and the hard to take, perhaps

the bills won’t be so big and she’ll phone

and say she’s a little better today.

If not, there are always the pills that help,

to sleep, perchance to dream.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

48 thoughts on “To sleep”

  1. I like the repeated sounds of disillusion and despair in the lines:
    ‘the sickly light in those eyes that
    used to be so bright. They draw you back
    into the sticky, sweet sheets of oblivion’,
    and the down-to-earth voice in the line:
    ‘and the dreamworld has no money back clause’.

  2. I usually sleep and the dreams I remember are often amusing, but the anxiety dreams are the worst. I like the pacing of this, and that illustration is perfect.
    Mine is like the dream-opposite. 😉

    1. I used to sleep well but rarely do now, not much more than three or four hours a night, and don’t remember the dreams.
      I love that painting, especially the colours. I thought I’d read yours but I’ll go and check now.

    1. I try that too, but almost invariably start to think about something and the thoughts snowball. When my eldest was about six her teacher explained sleeping or not in terms of missing the train. If you missed your train you’d have to wait two hours for the next one. I don’t know why she was teaching six year olds about sleep patterns and insomnia, but it’s what happens to me—read until 11:30pm, miss the first train, and at the moment, I miss the connection at 2am as well.

  3. A terrific response to the prompt. Which is better, dreaming or waking? Which is less worse? I understand that, when a child, Tennyson left school to go home because he couldn’t stand being at school. Then he left home to go back to school because he couldn’t stand being at home. Occasionally, I have a dream I’m sorry to wake from. Usually, it seems just as well to wake up. I tend not to believe in cycles because each moment is unique. But I don’t know–waking and dreaming might be a cycle without improving.

    1. Thank you. Cycles happen, they’re real, but not everything takes the form of a cycle. Otherwise I suppose we’d never move out of the cave. I agree with you, each moment is unique, a bead on a chain, and we have to keep adding to them not wait for the good one we liked so much to come round again.

  4. Sometimes fear have a way of showing up in dreams causing a bit of turmoil. Upon awakening one might need to go through a reality check.

    I hope this dreamer gets a restful night’s sleep.

  5. Your “no money back clause” got me 🙂 Definitely a few dreams I’d pay to return to but many I’d like my money returned! Best to pay my debts in real world…

  6. Yes, agree picture is really beautiful – love the rich tones of the colors., the contrast between red and pink – somehow you’ve paired your poem to the paint rather than the subject – at least for me. I like the contrast in this poem so much and your segue is so good as the faces ‘morph onto monsters. This is such a finely crafted poem.

    1. Thank you, Christine! You’re right, I chose the painting because of the ambivalence of it. There’s something slightly unsettling about the closed eyes, the way the two characters are wrapped up together, tossing pink petals, but they could be hand grenades for all they know. I’m pleased you like the poem 🙂

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