Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cymbal#41:: One Eye Up

'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'
-Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act II, Scene II

‘I never sleep, ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death.’
-Nas, N.Y. State of Mind, Illmatic

They come, Malcolm and Macduff, Ross and Siward, brewing medicine from the blood of babies.  Kid gangstas, young punks, packing heat. The hand moves across the sea. Your kingdom groans, the exchequer runs dry. It’s a poor year for grain. No one’s buying rock.

You cannot sleep, thane imperial, for the long knives move in the heather. Strange designs on banners, strange arms in holsters.  There are Uzis where you had Glocks. War will come to you behind your walls of intelligence. It will seize you by the throat. You’re not safe in your own walk-up, not safe on your couch, the projects buzz with threat. You cannot laugh a siege to scorn with one meatloaf and two loaves of Wonder Bread. And so you cannot sleep – you rest one eye up.

Sleep is your last drug, old man. In your sleep, your murders are multiplied. When you sleep, you are Gaddafi, you are Assad. When your eye drops, your heart quickens. Your grip on your sword tightens. Your mind is infected by demons; the nightmare rides your chest.

If that door opened and you knew not the hand on the knob, would you even care anymore? The leaves have turned again and good seasons and ill have visited you. No one survives you. You will not hold your fire, but when that door swings open, will there be a sickening fall, or a lifting in your throat?

Nas – N.Y. State of Mind - 1994

But only sleep will set you free. Only when your face slackens will you be noble again.

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