Triptych for the Lone Night Gods by Andrea Porter

Triptych for the Lone Night Gods

too much time  is spent on this
you  only have  so  many hours
in a day you  have  to prioritise
because  a third of this is sleep
or   what  now passes for sleep
splayed out on  a firm mattress
that if you believe   the adverts
is rippling with  mites and bugs
of a microscopic nature and the
thin duck feather pillow plucked
pummelled down to submission
is fattened  with  sloughed skin
from your dried cheeks despite
the new moisturiser you bought
when you  thought of  your age
that long predictable  cold front
the  passing touch  of someone
at the sandwich counter      the
slight electric of a  cooler  hand
too much time  is spent on this

as I said you can’t turn it off like a tap not this particular tap the washer has rotted and water keeps coming  hitting the drum of the plastic bowl  so you take out  the bowl  just for the sake of changing the pitch the yellow page plumber is busy for days and emergency call outs seem way too much for such a small thing such a common place thing the imprint of metal embeds in your hand as you turn it and twist it clockwise and tighter everyday fighting to make it all stop even then you know your logic is skewed but you need to do something to be in control to seem undefeated the sound stalks you to bed at 3.23 you hear it downstairs through two skins of wood long after the plumber the exorbitant cheque you lie in the silent stretch of your bed arms flung to edges catching ghosts dropping hollowing stigmata in the grasp of your hands as I said you can’t turn it off like a tap not this particular tap the water keeps coming  keeps coming  keeps coming keeps coming keeps coming  keeps co

to bed
where sounds jump into bed  like the old fridge
that shudders  awake  at 3am  hums mmmmm
it can sense what I am failing to be this sleeper
lit up by the radio red  half-life  of the LED  dial
the silent electronic tick  prods the air  my face
I  can  taste  its  finger in my mouth  the sweet
deep colourant buzz  of pick‘n’mix   cola bottles
shrimps      flying saucers    fluorescent red lips
Sleep   the star of the peep-show  is downstairs
I can hear her watching TV   a gaudy quiz show
time  has  become  the  slow   smell of his neck
washed from  these sheets  both of us  bedded
down  in the back seat   of a clapped out Fiesta
the fridge can’t see me now    I have poked out
its  eyes  with  a gherkin  blind-folded the clock
mini- moto sparrows are  just  beginning to rev
I  could  throw a  big cloth  over the cul-de-sac
kid them its night    double dark Mrs G’s budgie
the street’s pending    the corner shop’s in-tray
being stuffed with The Sun   sliced white bread
I   am  not  asleep yet  because    Boise  Idaho
Perth Australia     Shanghai   the Polar ice caps
are still awake drinking tea  and  talking to me
the Slumber land  mattress whispers  in my ear
horror  stories  of  chicks  eaten  by fat  hippos
I am  exchanging  fish  recipes  with   penguins
telling  trailer park trash  about    love in a box
this  fog-bound    grounded   journey  of  sleep
takes  me  places  I’ll never  come  back  from
in  my  old  Nelson  blue  geography text book
stalactites  have  to  hang on  tight   I chanted
all of  Mrs  Hardy’s  chalky   lime-scaled  sheep
rocked  my flip-lid  desk to sleep   like  a  baby
the  night is  going  to be pulled   like a cracker
snapped     useless debris    no smell of cordite
just a cheap plastic dream   a curled up  motto

• Andrea Porter is a member of the poetry performance group Joy of Six that has performed in Britain and New York. She has been published in a number of poetry magazines (both paper and online) in the UK , Canada , Australia and USA . Her narrative sequence of poems Bubble was adapted for Radio 4 as a drama by the RSC playwrite Fraser Grace. She received an Escalator Award from the British Arts Council (East) and The New Writing Partnership in 2006 to complete a novel. She sleeps either too little or too much.

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