The Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

By: Dane Shannon
It takes about an hour.
to cry yourself to sleep.
The first ten minutes is a drizzle
before a spring shower. Tight chest
and stiff jaw. The clouds
are just beginning to roll in.
The next thirty minutes are full of thunder
and howling. One violent sensation after the next.
A hand around your ankle, then around your
throat, gouging your weepy little sockets, and
clawing up your knees and thighs.
Your pillowcase becomes translucent  
with drool and snot and puddled tears.
The pain in your body—the pain that isn’t
real—hurts so much more than the
beating headache radiating through your
temples as your sobs pile upon one another.
But then you start to tire and fade.
For about fifteen minutes you lie
caught in shudder after shudder
of soft moaning. Gentle tears flow freely
from your winking eyes. Your body gives in,
your legs too weak to kick away
the clasping fingers. Steady surrender.
O, the desperate chest pain of the last five minutes.
Like wringing dry an itchy rag or sucking
at an empty flask, hoping for a last drop.
Your bones are heavy stones
that pull you deep into your bed
and drag your little mind to sleep.

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