Poem: After Night, Before Morning

I have almost zero recollection of writing this poem, but thankfully my laptop has a better memory than I do (which is a pretty damning verdict considering I am still running on Windows Vista). I have no idea what my intentions were in writing it, but I’m fairly certain it was inspired by the silent hours of pre-morning when I try to shake myself awake with caffeine, cold water and Buzzfeed lists.

Despite the tone of the poem, I would be pretty grateful for a “dawnless day”; most of my productivity, be it writing, reading, or exercising, is achieved before the sun comes up and the birds start chattering, cupboard doors clattering, and emails swooping in.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for our increasingly noisy world. It’s perhaps unfashionable to say this, but the ubiquity of social media has certainly enriched my own life and I don’t see it as a distraction from “the real world”. In fact, I’d argue communicating online can sometimes be easier, more comfortable and more enlightening than in person (admittedly I spent a substantial portion of my formative years trying to badger Smarterchild into confessing to bizarre sexual fetishes, but, you know, diff’rent strokes). However, you notice, especially after going into full-time work, that people struggle to steal moments of solitude, and it’s like – for the absolute craving of a better expression – watching someone’s sanity being rubbed slowly against a cheese grater (I have no idea what sanity looks like, of course, though I’d guess it resembles Mary Berry and Joanna Lumley sitting down for cream teas on a Sunday afternoon).

The thing is a solitary moment isn’t solitude at all: it’s an interval in a play, or slowing down to a walk whilst out running – really you are just breathing in the bustle more deeply. Solitude should be absolute and secluded in a little pocket of the world where no one else can get to you. And I can’t recommend it enough (a philosophy which is completely contrary to the poem below, but then again everything I write has fuck all to do with me anyway).

After Night, Before Morning

Waking in the pitch morning

of a dawnless day. Trees

are caccons and the birds –

tree-monks – silent, invisible.

The terraces sag with slumber

and dim lampposts jerk

back and forth, in

and out of sleep. You pull poetry

from a shelf, find the words

smeared like make-up. Open

a window and the tarry sky

oozes in. You kick,

scream against the world,

drown in nothingness.


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