My thoughts tear asunder, run amok. En garde! Parry! Riposte! I am spread thin and thinner, granted no true measure of release or rest, with my own uncaged mind leading the cavalcade of disharmony to and fro from the ever expanding fray.

I battle secular sentiments of self-loathing each new dawn my weary eyes greet the ceiling above, but it is not because I lament the passing of time; it is because I mourn for all that could have been accomplished and achieved during moments now lost to the ether, for every breath drawn without aim. Sleep is of course not the enemy, for it is the playground of dreams. But no dream will come to fruition lest its tail is caught and its body tamed during waking hours. Though forever free, it needs to be commandeered, straddled and made to serve as a steed for the journey to take form and be drawn to its conclusion.

Every so often life unfolds like an expedition through perilous badlands. The destination, if set, is beside the point. Some curse the cruel sun for stealing the rain as the desert abyss slowly swallows them. Others, however, cherish and celebrate the sensation of lingering thirst, for the rapture of release is multiplied exclusively by the weight of the struggle that precedes it. I belong to the latter category. I chart across this treacherous landscape on all fours with a roll of parchment for a tongue, but the journey is my own. My legs have given under me and my mind has melted into madness, but the journey is my own. Pain is beside the point, momentary musing upon the frailty of life. It is a given. A dab of ink on an endless canvas. This desert belongs to me as much as I belong to it.

Words, to me, are more bloodletting than typing. There is song and melody behind every syllable, untamed orchestration behind every seemingly steadfast structure. Stone walls built upon feather beds. A poetic bounce beyond form and function. Always so much more at play than mere communication or exchange. In many ways these exercises of lyrical expression are a very real extension of the endless sojourns I'm thrown into when the thundering flow of music under my skin takes hold and pulls me under. I fall in and drown, again and again, only to re-emerge with another savory drop on my parched tongue. I emerge with another short lease on life.

It is the rhythm of these roaring waves that I so desperately try to pour upon strings and keys and whatnot, mirroring and mimicing each water-soaked tingle via melodies and harmonies and thus forth, with my own unevenly balanced loss and gain of blood being its own reward by ensuring the flow remains unclogged. Drop by savory drop. It is not so much a ritual of rebirth as it is a long, arduous clarification of self.

The music within is a furious flame, a wall of violent poetry between the world and its witness. The bane of my existence yet its most bejeweled crown. The finest reason to keep breathing yet the most unkind of foremen. Hard as I try, the work will never be completed. So I will spend each day of this wretched, joyful life under the whip, struggling and striving. Enduring. Succeeding if such is the hand I'm dealt, but without any conceivable means of measuring the worth of the work. But I will never utter a single complaint for this gift of strife. Exhaustion breeds strength.

All emotion is wood for the roaring fire, freshly glimmering ore under the tip of the pickaxe. Every heartbeat sways in the wind like grains of wheat before approaching jaws; never fulfilled, never released from hunger. Every sight, sound and experience is kindling, so eager to ignite. The world burns in my eyes with violent, eloquent beauty. I have but these words to describe the sights I enjoy and endure and subsequently try to re-envision through artistic enterprise. Mere lettering is a shoddy substitute, I know, but it is the best I can muster.

This fire will never cease, never cease to devour. It will never die out from starvation, for there will always be mass for it to consume. I will make certain of that. All I have to do is feed it, watch my world burn and present you the ashes. Whether you hail the afterbirth as an accomplishment or crushing failure is, again, beside the point. In the end all that art needs to portray to warrant its existence is to give you a glimpse into the soul of another. The cycle is endless. The fire negligent yet willful beyond imagination. All it needs is oxygen and time. All we truly have is oxygen and time.

To create is to burn, willingly. It is to watch all your fortifications engulfed in flames as you tinker away at the next pyre of your own design, oiling another rope around your neck. Sometimes I have to drown out the noise and endure the quietus of silence to grant myself a measure of serenity. Even then I lay above embers. Sometimes all I can do is bide my time in pockets of numbness separating me from the cacophony. But it is a charade, a thin curtain. Awake and thrashing or succumb to slumber with baited breath, I am a beast in a cage. It is a strange existence.

If anything, it keeps me honest. My past reads like an old, forgotten battleground overrun by moss and weeds. Only eyes that were there to witness the carnage can spot the mortar craters and bones picked clean. I will not let myself forget, for I have a lot to answer for. The best I can do is take my past mistakes along for the ride like a roadmap of misfortune and simply try not to cause as much of a mess. Not much of a plan, I know, but I never said I had one. Then again, if this self-inflicted penance has wrought any reward it is that I've gotten to know my own wretched self well enough - warts and all - not to become destabilized by people trying approach and untangle me like a puzzle box with a given ruleset and mechanics. If their efforts succeed in depressing me, it is because my heart goes out to them, for their benefit. I gave up on trying to fit in many a sleepless night ago - and emerged a better man because of it.

To live as I live is to suffer just a little bit from each tick to tock. A drop of blood for each bellowing slam of the hands of time as I engage in a lifetime's endeavor of chasing after shadows. It is a life of thirst punctuated by seldom victorious moments of gratification. Drop by drop. And it is a struggle worth every second. Above all things I fear waking up to the sensation of being completely fulfilled; may such a day never rise, for it would be my last.

I am blessed to live in this haze between dreamscapes and physicality, blessed to see inspiration where others see mere alleyways and creekbeds. Blessed to know there is no difference between moonlight dancing upon spring waters and diamonds forged in imagination's foundry. I don't have time to be too busy for anything worthwhile. I don't have time to not have time.

Sleep is not the enemy. But it is a terrible, terrible waste.