Insomnia – By @zoejessicad

By Zoe Jessica Dawson


At half past three this morning as I lay in bed wide awake, SCAB looming, I took out my moleskine to do one of Deanna’s freewriting exercises from a masterclass earlier this term. The idea is just to personify a concept, to make concrete an abstract with some simple prompts like ‘what does their breath smell like,’ and ‘what are their eyes like.’ Then you take what you’ve got and poemify it.

Deanna and her masterclasses have inspired the poet in me to come out of a 5 year hiatus, and it’s probably the most exciting thing that’s happened to me since starting SCA. Unfortunately, the chronic insomnia that I thought I’d fixed has also come out of it’s hiatus, which is probably the worst thing that’s happened to me to since starting SCA.


So, here is the late night result of the collapse of the best & worst. (PS, I don’t like rhymes but thought I’d give it a go).


Insomnia does not have violet half moon bruises under teary eyes

or valleys carved out beneath cheekbone lines


she does not fold up neatly, bones stacking up

or step lightly like a dancer making art


she’s not holding a copy of some philosophy book

doesn’t listen to the kind of music Kurt Cobain would


her voice is not like gravel, rasping and slow

after too many cigarettes out in the cold


her touch isn’t soft and hot on your skin

doesn’t arouse you

her breath isn’t one you want to breathe in.


See, Insomnia cannot be the love of your life

but she’s also not the girl you fucked one time


she clings. Like the ex that wouldn’t let go

guilty, like saying yes when you should have said no


her breath is stale, teeth unbrushed for a week

her touch is clammy, and digs in far too deep


voice shrill like the screeching of a dying bird

she makes your balls shrink with every damned word


in her hands is a notebook, completely blank

‘cause she’s not thoughtful or creative, it’s all an act


she probably listens to BBC radio 4

because what no one tells you about insomnia is she’s fucking bored


her movements are heavy, she drags her feet

her stomach rolls up, not ribs stacked all neat


you look at her face and find it’s puffed up like rice

she stares back at you, nothing in her eyes.


I’m a writer, romanticising is in my blood

but there’s nothing romantic about not sleeping for a month.


So fuck personifying something sick like it’s someone you know

Let me introduce you to Insomnia: just hours awake and alone.  

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