Nagoya Writes

January 4, 2008

Sleep Eludes Me by Brian Cullen

Filed under: Cullen,Issue: Dec 2006,Poetry — usbengoshi @ 3:27 pm

Writer’s Notes: The humid summer heat in Japan brings two of my worst fears: insomnia and centipedes. On many nights, I have awoken every few minutes thinking that centipedes were crawling over me about to bite me with their nasty poisonous fangs. On a morning following such a night, I awoke to find that my bicycle had been completely repaired by some stranger during the night. This poem was an attempt to make sense of these events and to attempt to conquer my fear of centipedes. It was partly successful. I have since learned that the proper way to kill a centipede is to snip it neatly in two with a long scissors.

Sleep eludes me, I arise
To where a strange sight meets my eyes
My bicycle with twisted pedal
Central spike without a saddle
Stands now with perfect form

Who had come to fix my bike?
Their secret deeds are so much like
A story by those brothers Grimm
And there’s one thing I can say of them
They’re nicer than the rogue called Aesop

Aesop? Oh yes, you’ll remember that he said …

There was a son who came to grief
For he became a rotten thief
At the gallows, he called “mother dear”
Then he bit off the old girl’s dear
Yes, Aesop was a strange one

Very strange … nice story for the children …

That set my thoughts to swim
And you could say that of him
He couldn’t be a DIsney writer
And his stories don’t get any lighter
When you grow up and find them once again

But let’s forget those earless mothers
And get back to the German brothers
Fascinating in themselves
But more so when they wrote of elves
And the old shoemaker

Perhaps it was the elves who came
And fixed my bike up as a game
And cheered me up when I’d awoken
From a sleep so truly broken
By dark nightmare

Yes, my centipede illusion
Came again as night intrusion
When I should be deep in sleep
Out of darkness, they do creep
Out of world and mind

They wake me often in the night
Send me searching for their bite
Making me sit up bolt straight
Four, five, six, seven, eight
Times or more

Go forth and multiply, said God
And they did, one by one, they trod
Out where each one breeds
Till the whole world is full of centipedes
And the people, they did cry

… when they saw these fearsome things emerging from the weeds
… for these were not your ordinary garden centipedes

No, they were a foot or more in length
And even when they’re rent
In two or three or five
Each part is still alive
Moving on

Wriggling blindly
Don’t let them find me
What generates such disgust
About these creatures in the dust
As I cower in the corner with my spray

A horror script by Stephen King
With characters like these would bring
Rejection slips, “It’s unconvincing”,
But they don’t know what sets us wincing
Deep in the night when all is real

And when they bite
It’s only right
That I should smite them down
Oh God, I love that word, smite,
Oh yes, I am God
As I spare not the rod
And yet spoil the beasts

Now where are the elves, I wonder
As centipedes come asunder
Underneath my withering attack
Will the elves ever come back
To help me out again

No, alone I fight and thrash the air
Against a foe, is it really there
Taking all this life like God
And then I see they are not shod
Not a shoe between them all

Where are your little shoes, I say
To a centipede that I would slay
But his speech was quite impeded
That happens when you’re centipeded
Yet he breaks out in song

[In Song]
Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh hoo,
I haven’t got a single shoe
I bite, I eat
I have a million feet
But I haven’t got a single shoe
Oh what can I do
I haven’t got a single shoe

Oh dear I said, that’s no use
Why don’t we call a little truce
And think a while on what to do
For who is happy with no shoe?
Then I recalled …

Did I mention I am God divine
Just for the few short minutes of this rhyme
So I can do most anything
And I’m most impressed that you can sing
Though you’re a little out of tune

I’m too tired to do the job myself
So I guess I’ll whistle for an elf
He can dolly up some pairs of shoes
End your centipedal blues
And we can have some peace

Me being Irish, I’ve never seen an elf
From beyond the continental shelf
Down in Germany or maybe Spain
But I gave a whistle all the same

And then I see

Not the elves, but the fairies come
Wearing tight black leather on their bum
Two by two, married leprauchauns
A host of Marys who were once called Seans
Well, I as God don’t mind, and why should you?

The fairies start to make the shoes
And centipedes come round to choose
Then they walk off in the distance
Agreed on happy co-existence
We say goodbye

And so…

I give up the role of God
Laugh at myself with wink and nod
No more nonsense for my head
I turn out the light and go to bed
Where I sleep


1 Comment »

  1. Don’t capitalize every single line. Let the periods control the capitalization.

    Use punctuation more, it is essential for line breaks.

    The rhythm is good.

    Keep up the work.

    Comment by Blueweeps — January 4, 2008 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

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