Saturday, June 29, 2013

POEM: Apnea

1.) At 10 PM you nestle in. The bed is warm and the blankets are tucked around you. You are breathing like Darth Vader into the nose mask, through a hose connected to the CPAP machine. You imagine yourself as David Merrick, the Elephant man. “I’m not an animal, I’m a man!” you keep screaming at your wife.

2.) At 10:20 PM you are asleep. The hose to the CPAP machine is a snake that coils around your head. It is on a swivel, and you are careful not to strangle yourself or your partner with it while you switch sides.

3.) At midnight you wake up for the first time because the CPAP machine has malfunctioned and your heart has stopped. You momentarily dream of being bitten by rats and this is when you ARE getting oxygenated blood into your brain but without the machine, you do not dream at all, it is all a soupy blackness; it is the sleep you get when on cold medicines.

4.) At 12:01 AM you reach over and feel the night stand and correct the machine.

5.) At 1 AM you fall asleep long enough to feel as though you are falling. You kick your legs involuntarily and wake up again.

6.) At 1:30 AM the moon rushes into the room through the window like an anxious father and you curse it and pray to it all at once. This is the first time you glance at the digital clock - and make the analog comparison in your brain to someone running a marathon: how much further to go before the alarm. Time = distance.

7.) At 2:15 AM you turn and turn again, carefully maneuvering the hose of the CPAP machine. You are not asleep but not awake either.

8.) At 2:55 AM the mask slips off your nose and the air gushes like a wind tunnel. In a panic that has you believing you’ve just been sucked out of a 747 at 50,000 feet, you move your head slightly to cut off the air leak and then fall back to sleep.

9.) At 3:17 AM you glance again at the bloodshot eyes of the clock and mutter something about Satanic verses.

10.) At 4:02 AM you dream of sitting tied up in a chair in a field and hands, just hands, appear securing the knots. You scream as you are transported through wormholes connecting universes.

11.) At 4:05 AM you are awake again, revising the lesson plan for a class you are teaching about Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart”.

12.) At 4:06 AM you are mentally balancing your check book.

13.) At 4:07 AM you begin breathing deeply, following it into and out of your lungs.

14.) At 4:08 AM you are bored with this and go back to mentally balancing your checkbook.

15.) At 4:21 AM you are asleep long enough to dream of someone you do not know. You wake up feeling sad and you wonder why.

16.) At 4:35, AM again, you look at the clock and calculate time as distance.

17.) At 4:36 AM you accept that you are a freak; you believe that every other living thing is asleep at this hour. You believe you smell skunk.

18.) At 5:00 AM you dream of performing calculus in your head and while you believe you are sleeping, you are in fact not.

19.) At 5:30 AM the gentle melody of the alarm on your cell phone goes off. It is the opening notes to Radio Head’s “No Surprises”.

20.) At 5:31 AM you carefully shut off the alarm so as not to wake your partner. Your eyes are carrying American Tourister luggage around on your face. You stagger into the bathroom. The image staring back at you in the mirror: he knows you are a liar.


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