Before Sleeping

Before Sleeping


I can’t sleep,


So I think about the penguin tank.


Beneath the aquatics centre at Colchester zoo,

            In the eery underground light

The fiberglass rocks are shining.

When I touch them they are always moist:

                                                the breath of a thousand visitors on my palm.


Cheek against the chilled glass, I peer into cloudy water.


                                                          Penguins float,

set in glistening gellotine

                      and grimacing at me

with their sideways grins as they rise and fall,

                      like carousel horses,

 inhaling on the breath between each fall up

And Down.


Smooth liquorice bodies,

             chasing silver fish heads.

Bits of flesh fall slowly,

        trailing ribbons of white and red absurdly caught

in the caverns of blue between the real world

                  and the sea-bed, swept smooth like a shell.

                                                                     Penguin bellies squeak against it as they dive.


Do they believe,

                                 I wonder,

 as their black beaks toss gutted faces in suspended cartwheels,

That through the upward fall of bloodied intestines

                                                        They might suddenly find grey sand?

                                                                   and buried beneath it, colder sand?

                                               And bones, and shells, and earth, and the silent memories?


How can they sleep in this little blue world

                                     where there is not enough room

                                                                      for a whale to swim freely?


                                                                                                       I linger with a silent splash

                                                                      on the darkness at the bottom of their descent.

                                                                             Soft corpses falling like confetti and  

                                                                                    I might find among the dead

                                                                                  the clean spikes of whale bones.        


Sleep comes in a thought, like the last bubble of air.


One thought on “Before Sleeping

  1. the formatting didn’t come out perfectly on this one, but actually quite like how some of the single words have formed their own mini-structure on the left hand side towards the end. Let me know if you have any thoughts/comments.

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