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This article is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Return to Moribunda
Chapter 1
Andy Croft
‘This is a strange repose, to be asleep
With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,
And yet so fast asleep.’

The Tempest, Act II Scene 1


An island. Lots of sea. It’s raining.
Inside and out, the mood is wet.
A smell of fish (which needs explaining)
And all is hushed as midnight yet.
The only sound’s the sobbing splutter
Of rain-drops in the leaf-choked gutter,
Like someone trying not to weep,
Or else a prayer in place of sleep
For what the skies will bring tomorrow.
The Shipping Forecast, Radio 4,
(The outlook’s moderate to poor)
Plays out the last of our sea-sorrow,
That melancholy lullaby
As planet earth goes sailing by.


Each night the world swings on its hinges
To this sad, desert-island tune;
While these soft strings of Ronald Binge’s
Unfurl their sails around the moon,
The British middle-class relaxes,
Forgets about their unpaid taxes
And drifts away to ex-pat shores
On gentle waves that sound like snores.
No matter what the day delivers,
By night we know our human faults
Absolved in this slow, schmaltzy waltz
For broken hearts and damaged livers,
A soporific midnight prayer
For sleepless loners everywhere.


For most, sleep comes as automatic;
Switch off the light and you’re away.

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