Posted by: Peadar Ban | November 1, 2010

The Incomplete Agony of Sleeplessness

In the incomplete agony of sleeplessness
I caught the train of memory;
A seat by the window looking out .
In two hours I was in Chicago.
On the subway from the airport into town
I met a man from Brooklyn who had one leg
A guitar and plenty of advice about wallets
And what to do with them in big cities
His old mother sat nearby; smiled at me
Nodding in agreement with the setting sun
That her son was right about New York.

I got off the train in Shannon eight short hours on
Having lost the race with dawn which had arrived
Just before I walked through customs;
Was arriving, sliding into home as we ourselves
Slid down the wind from thirty thousand
Little feet above the mid Atlantic
Captured second and last at the same time
The wet green hills unmoved by it all still.
The poisoned oak which had whumped down
In my back yard to start the race on a rain
Soaked afternoon stayed in place for three more years.
But I get ahead of myself. First tea.
Then we may talk of Buttevant, that little town
On the way to Cork and Blarney.

On the way to Buttevant drink the water from the well
From the silver cup Alice left behind and her name
Cut into it and date of her baptism
In nineteen ought two.  Sweet girl, she,
Thinking of thirsty strangers driving by, stopping,
Praying while Brigid smiled the holy well,
The sun settled into the sheep flecked hill
And all over the world the train sang songs
Of the incomplete agony of sleeplessness.



  1. Very nice!

    • The poem or missing a night’s sleep to gain the experience of writing about it?


%d bloggers like this: