Sleeping With the Enemy

by sibyllene   Nov 2, 2012

Sleeping With the Enemy

There's a canary on the sill.
A coal-miner's yellow warning light
sings mournfully its own murder, so
my fingers clench and
for a moment I look for bodies around me.

Arms broken, necks broken,

A moment of splintered identity, then
I blink and am back to myself.

I see only pots on the stove.
I lay a hand on the burner -
cool to the touch.

But the truth is that
death follows yellow songs.
It rallies in the harsh, bright exuberance
of poisons and flares,
burns and bombs and the
dark corners of doomed

and here I've forgotten again
the torpid influence of reality.
I've mistaken myself for another,
the latter for the former,
gauged my mind, for a moment,
as whole.

I forgot that while I'm dead
tired from another restless night
in a madman's bed,

I'm frozen in
a suburb of Chicago,
conquered by nightmares
and choking with guilt for
a bird on my window.

I face down the truth. In the dark of every night I'm
sleeping with the enemy -
keeping another silent wake with the quiet
murderer in my own heart.

This was for a contest a ways back that I think I dropped out of, and forgot to post. The prompt was to use that title, the experience of a veteran returning from war, and a list of words.


Did You Like This Poem?

Latest Comments

  • 5 years ago

    by silvershoes

    This is actually pretty heart-breaking, Sibs. I didn't understand it fully until reading the description at the bottom. Came back today to read it again and it made my stomach churn.

    PTSD is no joke.

  • 5 years ago

    by Decayed

    That's a masterpiece!

  • 5 years ago

    by Karla

    After a war, the only enemy that remains is yourself. You have to fight your fears and start again in a society that can either embrace you or look down on you if you are a loser.The scars and wounds are so deep that deform you forever.
    Sartre said:
    "Freedom is what we do with what is done to us."
    So after a war, we are condemned to be free and it is hard to sleep as a soldier and wake up as an ordinary man.How difficult it is to open our eyes to a new reality.We are never prepared to adapt ourselves to what life offers us.It is not easy to prepare a lemonade when you don't know what a lemon is.I have a friend who has been to war there. When he came back, he lost everything: wife, kids, dignity. His addiction destroyed him and his health.Poetry saved him but what he lost will never belong to him again.In the end, it is always our hearts that can rescue us from our mistakes/fears and set us free.Great write Sibs.