What Keeps You Up at Night?

Writer: Shahi Ezzeldin and Menna Kalboush

Editor: Ahmed Ashry

Artist: Salma Diab


A juncture of midnight vigilance swallowed the opacity of the nightfall.
Under the carpet of lively velvet darkness,
You laid
With a clean shaved face that’s now smeared with remorse.
Inside your cranium, was a noisy carnival.
Echoes of memory’s false triumphs
A captive of what has never been yours.
Lumbered clouds of melancholy hover over your head
Making you wail
Making you tremble
Making you teep
A thousand questions in a mental bore 
Such a feeble, fragile individual you are.
Thoughts admire the seduction of the bait.
And the memory foam absorbs you,
Molding into your sleeping position,
Yet sleep itself doesn’t befall.

The day breaks in
No use for caffeine,
Open-eyed by the warmth of the memories
Seeping into your hippocampus.
The reminiscing dragon scorches heat, making your mind a dungeon of lava.
Your brain is on fire,
but the coldness of those memories' absence,
made it feel like December.
The Chills of the void they once filled
Makes you feel that they were never yours to begin with. 
Yet, in a parallel universe, they are.

Your head is a battlefield between alternatives. And you’re the only martyr.
The blood of the conflict blabours your consciousness
Like a splash of cold water was thrown at the drowsiness of your eyes.
You need to sleep this all away,
But the nightcap was never the solution.
Then what keeps you up at night?
It's not long till you get lost in a space of unconsciousness.
Blissful serenity.
So try harder.

You have no need for alcohol or prescription drugs.
The boundless field of mourn-scented flowers intoxicate you enough, yet you water them regularly.
You are an impressive horticulturist.
But you could never grow some euphoria tulips in that garden.
Could you?
On a crossroad of emotions,
You stood still,
Immobile.
You could never ask them to stay longer. 
And they never invited you along.
You've been longing for the forgetting, For peace.
Your countless trials of falling asleep don’t work.
It wasn’t a matter of a strange bed.
It never was.
It was your brain that kept you up at night.
Such a torture!

You start craving for the daylight hours. 
A night perilous and not mellow.
Your tears are falling,
But they aren’t here to caress your cheek and wipe the salt as you feel the heavy weight of your pillow.
Amongst all fears of midnight ghosts,
Nostalgia strikes again.
The longing and the pain are at their uttermost.
That was the story of every day, what night-time does to you.
The draining,
The agony,
The way you’re left paralyzed every dawn reminds you of what has never faded away.
And with all your past mistakes,
You could never sympathize.
Such a victim of misgivings, you were.

The reasoning will never stop.
A night, no longer lacid or serene.
Your visions of tomorrow, were also fogged,
But what a pretentious night gown you wore to sleep. 
You miss the ease, peace, and circadian rhythm.
But all you've got is a restless mind, in fight with a riddle
And all the words you couldn't bear.

With the regular pattern of life,
All nights in your room, are far more alive.
With all the monsters and shadows creeping, You came to realize
That the night keeps you awake.
Not the other way around.
So Dear nocturnal boy,
What keeps you up at night?