By David R Graham

In the realm of hypnopompia

In transit between wakefulness and sleep

I am conscious that I tread on endless flights of stair

I have no notion where my pointless tramping it will cease,

Nor can I point to any landing and say, ‘I started out from there.’


I feel the rough stone treads beneath my feet

And press the cold and seamless walls,

That hem me to my left and to my right,

And force me up or down these shadowed wells.


In this borderland of consciousness and sleep

My false awakening is a vivid and convincing dream,

Wherein I know that I am not awake

And that my constant treading on these stairs

Is an ordeal I am powerless to forsake.


And yet, within my powerlessness, I know

That I must find a way to free myself

From this constant going up and going down again

And so I strive to hear the breaking power of ticking time,

That will with shrill alarm these stairwells break.


But what price time, when I am not awake?

Time has no meaning here in this hypnopompic state,

Where every sense is radically enhanced and

Witnessed in the rapid movement of my shuttered eyes.

Yet knowing in my dream, that I am still in slumber,

Avails me no advantage or control

For I have no power to rouse myself

from my pointless tramping role.


Up and down these stairs I go.

Or is it down and up? I do not know.

I perceive no purpose to this constant rise and fall

Nor do I know ere my ascending and descending

Will take me anywhere at all.

How long will I endure this ordeals pointless toil?

I do not know. For I perceive no point in time

Where at my travail will be done.


Though I sleep. I am lucid, conscious, sentient, and aware

I feel the stone and sense I tramp these stairs alone

For I perceive no others come or go,

From whom I might learn the purpose of the stair.


But now I sense that time is pressing in

To separate the walls that guide my course

And time brings with it light,

That fades the steps beneath my feet

And makes me fear a fall.


I lurch and flail for something firm to hold

And bolt awake on tousled bedding sheet

Then fall back grateful with relief,

That I am freed from hypnopompia’s captivating sleep.


4 thoughts on “FALSE AWAKENING by David Graham

    • Hello Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment. I am pleased that you like this poem. It came out of a group trigger word about dreams. And was prompted by the Penrose Stairs. There is an updated version pending.

      I have seen your latest posting and will read it soon.

      Thanks again,



  1. Very impressive David, I like the rise and fall of the verse it’s almost like being on the staircase itself. I have also learned a new word (hypnopmpia) which is always a boon.

    Being a Whitby lad in my youth I can relate to this and it reminds me of something I wrote called 199 Steps which I may post some time.

    I too have many dreams like this…


    “How long will I endure this ordeals pointless toil?
    I do not know. For I perceive no point in time
    Where at my travail will be done.”

    End quote

    …although I usually call them Work!


  2. Hello Chris,

    My apologies for this very late reply to your encouraging comment. I am well pleased with this attempt at poetry and – although I have no idea where it came from – I hope that there are more like it waiting there for me to tap into.

    Thanks again,



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