posted in: Poetry | 0
Moira Egan portrait

A poem by Baltimore native Moira Egan, from her book Hot Flash Sonnetspublished by Passager Books in 2014.
3 minutes


Moira Egan grew up in Baltimore but spent much of her life—as she puts it—trotting the globe. She now lives in Rome with her husband where she writes, translates, and teaches.

Here’s Moira Egan’s poem “Insomnia” from her book Hot Flash Sonnets. You may recall that there are two classic sonnet forms, defined largely by rhyme pattern: the Shakespearian sonnet, and the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, of which this is an example. (Sorry. I was an English teacher for a very long time, and I just couldn’t help myself.)

O middle of the night, I’m lying here
As if alone, husband beside me deep
In snoring, peaceful, enviable sleep.
Assiduous, I try to join him there.
I conjure happy thoughts; resort to prayer;
Then count my blessings, heartbeats, even sheep.
I focus on my third-eye chakra, deep-
Ly indigo, shaped almost like a tear,
In fact, shaped very like the ones I’ll shed
If I don’t get some rest soon. 5 a.m:
The seagulls screech; drunks stumble-shout to bed;
The eight-ton, clockwork, clunk-kerchunking tram
Goes rumbling by. Some night I think I’d trade
The sleep of the dead for the Sleepless of the Damned.

Moira Egan’s poem “Insomnia” from her book Hot Flash Sonnets.

Poet Molly Peacock said, “If the Wyf of Bath were reincarnated as a sonneteer, she would be Moira Egan—but it’s the skill of this poet that dazzles, for she turns her stunning sequence into a vast landscape, contouring matters of beauty and aging in divinely controlled lines.” And former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins: “Her unabashed admissions, balanced by the sonnet’s strictures and the wit of her endings, extend to the reader the double pleasure of craft and disclosure.”

To buy Moira Egan’s book Hot Flash Sonnets or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to You can also download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts, and various other podcast apps.