Five Ways of Viewing the Void
I dreamt I died today,
and this was my last poem,
which isn’t a big deal;
I have died twice before,
run-through at seventeen,
undone at twenty-eight,
Respawning’s not instant;
often years overlap
some pieces remain lost,
the burn unrelenting
as pain from phantom limb
connect me to this realm.
Vast, and marvelous, we
are no more than my dream;
reality is me.
We cling to each other,
our skin, burdened touchstones;
massaged lies, we embrace
pleasure clawed from our truth;
we’re so very alone.
Love me without knowing,
you’ll never see the seams
that bind the shame that is.
I would taste better as
ashes upon your tongue.
Love me until the void.
Nothing warned me; nothing prepared me.
There was no vocabulary
for the remnants, for when the sun
turned away, withholding all of nature.
Nothing foretold the catastrophe,
nor was it immediately known, but felt
in phases; a series of cascading
calamities leaving the world dimmer
in stages as sources of nourishment
withered and fell like so many dominoes,
and soon, I found myself face-down
on momma’s couch, immobile,
unresponsive to external pleas to eat
or demands to get my shit together.
Soon, external voices no longer registered
as loud as the absence of the one who
no longer cared if I ate or starved,
and so I fell, falling behind the
dimming event horizon, leaving
only with what I entered; ending
as I began, staring into the space
between atoms as fields dissolved
and barriers melted to nothing.
Perhaps in another life,
in a reality we’ll never know
I persevered against your will
shattered your absurd barriers
and married you.
I made you happy, filled your cup,
and exposed your doubts
and the specters of my many fears
as foolhardy fairy tales.
We had a girl and fought furiously
to name her; I wanted Olivia,
you demanded something African
that I couldn’t pronounce.
We compromised, choosing Nefertari
with Olivia as her middle name and
I was a good dad.
We loved each other
and lifted each other up,
instead of yielding to fear,
spite, and desperation,
but I guess if that all came to pass,
I wouldn’t really be me,
you’d be someone else,
and our daughter, a specter;
just another fantasy
of a foolish old man.
Stare into the void long enough
and the phantoms name themselves.
We all feel that lonely, empty,
meaningless pull towards twilight
of eternal nightshade where the
unknowable hell-verse beckons
as a perverse lullaby to our
seemingly incessant suffering
and so we are compelled to seek
its finite serenade towards infinity.
We hope to name it in order
to cast it back into its bottle;
we will ourselves to defy it
by defining it for ourselves, for
to chronicle it is to vanquish
its unshakable power over us.
We scrawl the void in ink and blood
and then someone labeled it poetry.
In some eastern religions,
philosophies, and fiction,
heaven and hell are recast
as reincarnation and
the void; an endless chasm.
It is said that if our souls
carry too much vile darkness
at the instant of our death,
instead of our soul’s rebirth,
the last remnants of our light
are cast into the abyss,
never to feel warmth again,
left alone in an endless
chasm of despair alone
with the dreadful comfort of
all terrible emotions
imaginable to us.
At first blush, that doesn’t sound
all that bad to me; in fact,
it sounds like a fine place where
the best poetry is forged,
but never allowed to see
the light of a brand-new day.
But on second thought, perhaps
eternal life in darkness
as death’s greatest unshared poems
really is a hellish fate
to avoid at all cost.