Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


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JUNE 8, 2011 4:31AM

Insomnia Poem

Rate: 19 Flag

No fear is quite like

a cold 5am question

when you've nowhere to go

and nothing to do

but scratch your skin,

hoping it's like an itch

that will go away 

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Alysa this is so to the point it is chilling! Oh how I hate those 5 AM itches.
How timely for me to have found your poem.
Out on a limb - I'm sorry you relate....

Linnnn - If you're in the throes of a 5am question, I hope it gets resolved quickly and peacefully and you can get back to sleep!
I don't understand poetry but somehow get this.
I like this so much. It's funny, though, because I wake up at 5 on purpose every morning! For me the itch and angst is around 3:30...~r
hope & scratch all you like, then deflect;
take a step outside of it,
a small quantum leap of the head
to blazing infinity, where
someday you will return,
but remember: as long as you are human
that fear will recur.

nothing to scratch down to the bone over.
The greatest pleasures are free.
Itching out ears and nat bug bites.
If I can't sleep it's fun to daydream.
If sleeping we can dream we sit in ivy.
If blogging we shuffle feet to make hole.
Then the groundhogs crawl through hole.
We have fussy cute company to walk with.
Talking to bedbugs is always a fun pastime.
My question is: Who's in your bed asking you questions unless it's "What do you want for breakfast?"
I hope you find sleep soon
Sleep ma cher.. I could feel your frustration
rated with tons of hugs
I have had a few of those myself!
I tend to come awake between 1 and 2am most nights. It's OK, because I can put on a pot of coffee and read, and usually catch a nap around 5am. But, I'm in a panic about this Thursday: the entire city's power will be shut off at midnight so the new generators can be put on line and tested. No telling when the power will come back on, though the utilities comapny estimates 3am or so. So, what the heck am I to do: no coffee, no reading. That's an itch, Alysa, that I cannot hope will disappear. My plan: force myself to stay awake, hopefully through sheer willpower, so I can sleep through the outage. If I don't, well, dark night of the soul, for sure!
Wonderful poem, those vexing 5 AM questions.
rated with love
If it happens again, may the good sleep fairy gently sprinkle some slumber dust over your eyes so you can return to sweet dreams and rest your itch.
Been there, done that!
I get this, Alysa, but have developed a knack for thinking, fuck it (whatever it is, it can wait awhile), and catching another hour of shut-eye.
Fusun said it best. I am a champion sleeper- can sleep for days on end. Wish I could give you classes.
I love this, Alysa. For was 1:05 a.m. this morning.
Oh dear, One should ask One's Royal Feline to scratch the itch for you. Wot Wot.

Rated with an Ug.
"Press send please FRed(tm)"
We are weirdly on the same page today. I took my pal to
the "sleep doctor" to evaluate his sleep apnea problem
and the discussion was "sleep architecture" and
fixing his "insomnia issue" and not focusing on the apnea,
which is under control with a cpap machine. hm
Been there. Itched like that. Wishing you rest and peace!
Haha! I like this. Very haiku in its way.
3am here for me. This too will pass.
Luminous – Thank you, but someone as passionate and creative as yourself, must understand poetry – not necessarily what you’re forced to say is “poetry” in school, but I know you have a grand sense of the poetic.

Joan – Whoa! Respect. I usually get up between 7:30 and 9:30, depending on my work schedule, and I usually go to bed between 1 and 3 am. I guess it seems like we both get woken up around 2 hours before we have to, which sucks so much, doesn’t it, because if you manage to fall back to sleep, you know you won’t have very long. Ugh.

James – Thanks. I’ll try to remember your words the next time a 5am question comes – and, as you point out -- it will, alas.

Art – Right you are. I love itching out my ears. And I definitely should try to take a bout of insomnia as a way to just daydream. I need to find serenity within myself first, I guess –and I hope I will!

Blinddream – Oh, how I wish that were the only question I had to answer! The culprit, of course, is my neurotic self.

babylovesme – Thank you.

Linda – Thanks so much. Knowing the pain you’re going through with kidney stones, I feel silly complaining about this….

Susie – I’m sorry to hear that. Insomnia sucks!

Jerry – I love how you have your insomnia schedule worked out. It sounds like a great plan, and sometimes I try to get up and read a little, too. I should probably do that more often. Good luck with Thursday night (tonight, I guess). May the power outage disrupt your usual sleepless rhythm and may you get through it and catch some zz’s. Or stay up, as you plan, and have a surprisingly enjoyable night.

RP – Thank you. I’m sorry you relate.

Fusun – I know if someone has an in with good fairies, it’s you. I hope the fairy of sleep will listen!

scanner – Sorry to hear it!

Matt – You are so lucky. I hope I’ll be able to do the same one day…

sweetfeet – As I’ve said to others here, I’m sorry you can relate.

fernsy – With all that you’ve been through, I’m glad you can get some much-needed rest without a problem. Thanks for your well-wishes.

sophieh- I’m glad you like it, but I know it could be better!

Ingrid – Thank you and I’m sorry you had to have one of these horrible moments, too. I hope you won’t have to go through it again.

Creekend – Hmm…good point. Usually at 5am though, Ali tries to get me to feed him a late-night snack!

James – Very interesting, and I wish your friend luck. My dad has sleep apnea and that in and of itself can be tough – though I’m glad your friend already has a machine. My dad says it’s really helpful. But it’s amazing how worries or other insomnia-producing issues can have such a negative effect.

Eva – I’m sorry to hear that, and thank you.

Harry’s – Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it like a haiku – I usually write poems and feel bad calling them poems at all – they just are ideas that come to me that I can’t seem to construct into paragraphs and such. Your comment is so interesting. Maybe in a few days when I can remove myself from this piece, I’ll go back and see if I can look at it and feel a haiku rhythm.

zanelle – Oh no! As the French say, “Bon courage.”
Those late night/predawn worry sessions really suck. Been There, I know. Alas, the itch keeps coming back but over different things.