Poetry and Rants by DC McKenzie

Posts tagged “depression

What happens before Coffee…

10 November 2k18

 

Greetings, Dear Reader. It has been kinda heavy ’round here lately, eh?
What with all the Painful Poetry…
Blitzes. Voting. Retreats. Returns.
Hard to keep track of all the Ethical ins & outs…lotta connect-the-dots pandering goin’ on; backroom good ‘ol boy circle-yorking;
all while shrewdly calculating, on the fly, just exactly who is still hangin’ on the POTUS junk?
Who is stabbing whom in the back? Who left the knife stuck there?
Who’s on First?

I hear Marble Hill politicos are gnawing on the skulls of the fallen and defeated this day.
Welcome, Cohorts, to the Ramshackle Day Parade!              (Thanx, Joe)

Meanwhile, we’re all straining—stuck sittin’ & spinnin’ on the U.S.A. Inc. Moral merry-go-round v9.2;
judging from the forlorn squeal the thing is making, it needs some WD40…seriously.
During this time of year it can be damn hard to find a good laugh;
‘course bad laughs go for less than a dimebag, and are just as endemic.
The streets are littered with ’em, snuggled right up next to abandoned American Dreams, ubiquitous plastic flutter-bags,
old kicks sneering down from every wire, Faith disenfranchised,
and dumpster fires fueled with legislation of obfuscation,
plus pallet loads of overstocked, mangy, Presidential toupees.

And then there’s all this blog mucking about:
Comforting the Disturbed
Disturbing the Comfortable

The Empathy Hustle. Ah, merde! It can be that way, sometimes.
So it goes.

Today I thought we’d tap the brakes. Oi! Not that hard…easy. Easy!
Why spin out, unless you really wanna run amok, too?
B’sides, around here I’m 24/7, y’all. I’m just not always doin’ business, dig?

Yet, a Poet simply cannot live on words and smoke alone.
No…no, as well there must be Coffee

 

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What happens before Coffee

 

I told a diffident cup

to get fucked this morning.

It fell on the floor.

I was seeking to set fire

in my black, lil heart.

So…I just loomed there                      in those long, long minutes

vehemently cussing out                      its timid, inanimate spirit.

 

I know ya think I’m a fruitcake, baby.

Hey, that’s just how I roll.

 

Guess you’d better know now

In those minutes                                  before Coffee

don’t dare hand me a match

’cause I’ll spark the big fuse

every every every time. Natch.

 

In those minutes

loping-shoulders-loose,

I stalk amidst twilight

in the Savannah of Kitchen

looking for trouble—surveying thus:

Lions kneel before a State of the Art, blood-rusty King.

Jackals, daunted, hide their wicked eyes.

Hyenas shut their cackling yaps in surprise.

Vultures, envious, take their young under wing.

 

Such a wild-eyed beast                            I am forsaken. In those minutes:

 

do not glance at Trumpery                      at dread news, whilst Coffee brews

 

for every time I do:                                   sirens howl. Fire engines growl

something will go snap                             will crackle, will go PoP!

something will be throttled                      will be scalped raw

something will run for dear life                will flee. Running red lights

something will get bruised                       something will lose

 

I give No Quarter

to my prey

not to Hate, not to Seizures, nor to Pain

before sacred Coffee eases

my shattered-cup brain.

 

 

 

 

 

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DC McKenzie

 

 

 

 

::End Transmission::

 

 

 

 

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How Not to Kill yourSelf: gambit no.13

6 November 2k18

“Suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.”     ~Anne Sexton

“You want it Darker. We kill the flame.” ~Leonard Cohen

 

Greetings, Dear Reader. There is nothing easy about this post. The last one was simple.
Rage always is; ’tis Empathy that requires work. Venting is easy. Living is difficult.
And while I freely admit to some cathartic venting in my last post, nevertheless—it needed to be said: Screamed.
However, I have recently learned that a Human I care deeply for made that Choice.
There is such profound suffering in this Life that some flounder beneath towering waves.
Please remember, swimming so far from land, that You. Are. Never. Alone.

L’amour soit avec toi, mon ami.

 

I have been asked, enough times to lace cracks in my heart,
“How do you survive!? How? With all of this…how is it that you survive?”

I could never answer.
I never knew how. Still don’t…not really.
It is just what I do.

I think that I am not special, in this regard.
There is no adversity I have endured
that you too cannot survive.
You must remind your battered Self

—It is not over…I am not Done.

 

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Flare Gun

 

i.

Heels to haunch

in the mental whiteout

of a breakdown blizzard.

 

I cradle a flare gun

unsure whether to fire.

For every blind S.O.S.

carries a heavy measure

of uncertainty:

It is said that freezing to death

bleeding out

is like going to sleep.

 

It is not.

 

There is more icicle

than dreamsicle

in the reality of such a slumber.

 

Passing this skin-searing

metal chunk of grip

trigger

barrel

from cold hand to clumsy hand:

 

despite any resolve to soar away

there is no freedom

in a transition to fleshberg.

rather they will find a broken bird

lying on pitiless tundra.

 

ii.

Williwaw winds

Depression

are ruthless when wrathful;

cruelty matched only

by sheer indifference.

 

A whore-frost gargoyle, Winter

Suicide

broods insistently,

skulking on your back.

 

Ah, the treacherous

lies

it whispers

will undo

all that you

know of you.

 

Wishing to die, you wane;

a winter scarecrow of fallow field,

shriveled remnant of the Self

 

facing emptiness, you perilously

resort to stuffing in fistfuls

of moldering bracken, sour grass

 

wrenched by the roots

out of abject fear.

Being a Scarecrow,

 

the Ravens will help you

disastrously discover

what you are made of.

 

Yanked apart at the seams

by rending talons, by bitter beak

to find what is good in you.

 

iii.

Raising the flare gun’s weight

up to an opaque vault of sky,

vexed by snow-borne wind into a fury:

fingers ice-gnawed into claws

I fumble in the maelstrom

—slip but for a moment

and pull the trigger.

 

About Suicide.

Just between us

||who tread that bone-strewn path

as only the Suicidal can.

 

Among the ten thousand

useless ways to die

there is always a choice

to die well.

 

Especially when

you do not see it coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DC McKenzie

 

 

 

::End Transmission::

 

 


The Excoriation of Donald J. Trump

4 November 2k18

“Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose.
Any minute now I’m expecting all Hell to break loose…”     ~ Bob Dylan

 

What can I say, Dear Reader? The man has brought it upon himself.
I can stand no more of this utter, fascist Trumpery.
Please understand, I know there are those who will be vexed by this post:
whether you can believe it or no, I do have empathy. Yet, I also have a mandate:

Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

Trump and his ilk have gleefully sown the wind.
Now comes the Gale.

 

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The Excoriation of Donald J. Trump

Here is the way of my Curse for you, Donald:

Doom of the craven
and the swindler be upon you
who makes feast on the blight of poverty
who gorges on the blood of earth, rock, and sea.

You shall have all you blindly desire,
but naught of what you truly need.

You shall find no water in the desert
nor shelter from the burning sun of Judgment.

You have delivered the Earth
into the hands of despoilers.
You shall find no rest therein.
Your carcass shall be rejected.
Even your ashes shall be as salt
upon the ground, and none shall suffer to tread there.

Your black shade shall find no admittance to the Garden
but shall submit tenfold
to the woe and misery your works have wrought.

With left hand you bear the Scepter of Tyranny
while within your withered right
are clenched the thirty pieces of silver for which
you bartered your Soul.

Vultures gather at your feet
and verily they shall name you
Lord of Carrion.
A crown of bone and gore shall be
fashioned for you, and upon it branded
the Sigil of Gluttony.

Tyrant of Twitter, I dub thee.
Highwayman of the Hill, Maestro of Misogyny
Yes, yes…and moreover,
I name thee: Despot of Demagoguery
Brigand of the Beltway and Rustler of the Republic.
Cur, you hustle cowardly
with insolent thugs and greedy pimps.

Scourge of Empathy,
the fire of your abominate words
has lit a conflagration of fear
through the heart of a divided Land.
Never shall the blood of these Innocents
be washed from your brow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DC McKenzie

 

 

 

::End Transmission::

 


ME TOO: Poem for a Monster

1 November 2k18

“That is not how to Love me.” ~ Fever Ray [Karin Dreijer]

 

Me Too.
By now that statement is enough to inform you that I have been sexually assaulted, harassed, violated…You know this from those two words due to the immense courage of women from every walk of life. Women, nay Humans, who have stood and added their voices to the clarion chorus of Survivors. Humans who are calling for an end to the grotesque culture of abuse and rape in our society.
Though it matters not, my gender is male (mostly). I am the 1 in 20.
Male Survivors, I beg you, join your Sisters. Raise your voices against the Monsters.

We accept atrocities.
They have become so ingrained, so prevalent, that as a society we add it to the statistics of annual horrors in apparent apathy.
Statistics that are tracked and charted: they grab, they grope, they nestle next to the unspeakable as if we cannot change.
Yet, we can.
WE can change this sick paradigm.
We can drag it into the light. We can watch it burn.
Individuals know how to change. Often, we just collectively don’t know how to stoke an ember into a conflagration.

Me Too is a collective social outcry.
It is the thunder that incites lightning.
I pray it cracks the world.

 

 

Feast for a Monster

Oh, how you must feast.
Gorging on a memory banquet
my child hands on your flesh: unwilling.

Suck marrow from husks of vile memory
the way you sucked your lips then:
all venom and petulance.

Torpid. Sprawled on a ratty couch.
Warning me, “Don’t you dare throw up.”
—just as I see you in nightmares:

Massive and fearful
the way only a child
could remember.

Lick hoarded reminiscence
from your fingers,
Monster.

Let it drip down your elbows:
wring, throttle, squeeze
those final drops
out of the places
you ripped open
inside of me.

Scars grow upon scars.
Such wounds never heal clean.
You shall never know that
healing
has served to make me formidable.

Yet, you own nothing of my survival.
For that emerged from within,
where your maggot fingers
could not dig deep to reach.

Whilst you grow evermore frail
I banish you to the Past.
A predator become vulnerable:
choke now on your last sustenance
of corpse-liquor remembrance.

Monster,
how will you possibly
crave anything wholesome again
when you have supped at such a table?

 

DC McKenzie

 

::End Transmission::

 

 


I Scream Like This

31 October 2k18
Good Hallows’ Eve, Dear Reader. This day the Veil is thin.
Go to the Crossroads, tear the Veil away:
The first step is the hardest of all.

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Night Prayer post

 

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DC McKenzie

::End Transmission::


Extrusion Ex Machina

31 July 2016
UPDATE: This poem was selected for publication! Please see the details below…

11 July 2k15
Greetings, Dear Reader. It seems my earlier optimism regarding signal reacquisition was…a bit hasty. Nevertheless, I am still writing; still nurturing that sacred ember of creative flame which came so perilously close to dying in a cruel wind. And with that thought, I offer you a new poem. This one I dedicate to everyone…for each of us deals with our own measure of misery. And comparing them does a disservice to us all.

It is in the empathy we bring to the suffering of other living beings which is the true measure of our own humanity.


Extrusion

Little mottled lizard in the yard
has become permanently entangled
in a gnarled chunk of six-pack plastic;
and like a tree grown around a nail
it is now an inherent part of him.

His left hind leg has become hobbled,
but he frenetically scoots around still,
flicking his tongue past a rotten knot
of the stuff that has grown monstrous
into the right side of his throat, and down to stomach.

Clearly, he has bitten off more than he can chew.
Leaving little doubt the little lizard’s days are numbered too.
For at bugs, he is too slow to catch more than a few,
Of the lady lizard, he will certainly never woo.

I want to catch him and pickpeel the plastic,
so like a tumorous growth, from his invaded body.
My fingers itch to tweeze the brittle, no-morsel of it from his throat.
However, he is still much faster than the fumbling likes of me.

I remember—
surprising itchy pain, then instant fresh-skin relief
as a child. When a doctor once scrape-pulled
a knuckle of brownish, lumpy wax
right out of my ear, like a magician’s trick.

Of course, I did not even know it was there;
but once the awful waxy scab had gone,
that liberated patch of skin was all I could feel.

For days, that tactile memory
of its dislodging stayed with me,
at once delicious
yet shudderingly abhorrent.

And that Yard Lizard, scratch skittering
his burden across the savanna of grass,
he haunts my dreams.
…I can never catch him,
nor fix what has gone so badly astray.

 

 

DC McKenzie

Please go to:
Cirque: A Literary Journal of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to find this poem in full glory.
Merci!

 

 

 

 

—end transmission—


The Lacrimosa of Leonard

13 February 2015

Welcome back, Dear Reader, I know it’s been many moons since you’ve heard a word from me. However, it was not for a lack of desire, nor exhaustive attempts on my part, I assure you. It’s hard to get to the point when that point has been stuck in your back for so long it’s getting hard to remember what life was like before the assault. When you are at aphelion, the furthest point from your sun, for so long that ice builds in your beard, pizza delivery is impossible, and makes a lost television remote a really big deal. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The point is that for the last year or so I’ve had Writer’s Block.

“Holy crap!” I can hear you right now, Gentle Reader, “A Year!?! What the hell’s wrong with you, man? What’s the matter with your head? You wrote nothing worthy in a whole year? You must be full of hyperbole, or something else, right?”
To which I reply, in all seriousness, that it was like dancing on a gallows.

I implore you to consider what would happen if you were denied that which fulfills you the most in life…if the magic that drags you out of bed every damn morning suddenly up and poof! disappeared. What would happen if the sweet water of the Rock of Your Life just dried up one day? And left you forever searching for what you knew, rather than for what’s to come. It renders you incomplete.
After enough time something in you breaks. And once broken, whether or not you heal is entirely up to you. No doctor can offer a prognosis, and no treatment exists to cure it. It is a pitiless crucible that must be endured, then patiently recovered from. Yes, yes, very dramatic. But how did it occur?
That’s the question. What could happen that would result in being Blocked that long? The truth requires a candor that remains uncomfortable to share—yet necessary for you to understand—the genesis of the Scourge evolved years ago, along with a nasty case of what my head-doctors call Major Depressive Disorder. And let me tell you, that can fuck you up bad. I nearly committed suicide a number of times, and inevitably wound up in the revolving door of our local version of Arkham Asylum. Called API colloquially, the Alaska Psychiatric Institute is a conundrum of good intention and awful application. I wouldn’t wish that Pest House on my worst enemy. With mandatory stops at a Psych ward in the local hospital a few times for good measure, I’ve slunked my way along the back alleys of Alaska’s burgeoning Insanity Market.
But that’s another story.

Overcoming Writer’s Block is the subject of this, my first post in many years. Most authors vie with the Scourge at least once. Many have written on the subject far more eloquently than I ever will. For instance, Phillip Sidney, author of Astrophel and Stella among other works, wrote,
“Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
‘Fool!’, said my Muse to me,
‘Look in thy heart and Write.”

A bit of brilliance I’ve never forgotten, even when I write nothing but hopeless shite. David Carr, the Titan of Journalism who recently passed away, was once asked his favorite cure for writer’s block, to which he replied, “Typing”. Hah!
He later elaborated that to, “Keep typing until it turns into writing.”
Which is actually pretty good advice, I have to admit. But nobody ever talks about the grueling work that involves. The aching back, the bleary eyes, and inexorable headaches in my case. The isolation from humanity, endless late nights and ignored phone calls. The malnutrition, and tendency to mainline coffee and various other complicated molecules.
Not to mention the Scourge lurking in wait over by my refrigerator…just waiting for me to give up and try to rest. It waits until I’m wallowing in my failure, then it pounces and with abominably-strong insectile arms, it shakes all the Words right back out of me. Before scuttling away to watch me scream hysterically and sob on the floor. Then miserably start to pull my shit together…again.

So, what was it like living a year with the Scourge? Many friends, of whom a fair number are also writers, have asked with various mixtures of genuine concern, naked curiosity, honest empathy, and even the occasional schadenfreude. Time and again I’ve tried in despair to answer that question without sounding utterly inane, or worse like a condescending prick; and each time I’ve gotten desperately lost attempting to find my way back from that merciless Purgatory. And so it was, three nights ago and later than usual; my epic celebration of the End of the Scourge was still firing on full-auto, catapulting pianos out into the moonlight, as the ceiling kept threatening to come crashing down around my head. It was in the midst of that chaos that I decided to write you a fable, Gentle Reader, the history of an epoch in the life of a poet with writer’s block. As you read a few things will become apparent: This is more than an emotional analogy, it’s also an intimate fête of language, a personal journey back into beloved wordscapes. And a barely edited, first-draft expedition which I am honored you have elected to join me on. Many of you with knowledge of science will notice that I’m playing hideously fast and loose with astrophysics; cooking a sort of galactic gumbo to fit my narrative. I apologize if anyone feels irked, yet I remain unashamed. This is, after all, science-fiction. I suggest you buckle up and enjoy the ride. For this isn’t really an essay, Dear Reader, or even a short story. This is a love note to you, wrapped in a fairy tale. And it really does begin in a galaxy far, far away…

The Lacrimosa of Leonard by DC McKenzie

“We work in the dark, we do what we can, we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” ~Henry James

I. On the fear inherent in a five-pound sledgehammer—

Seven billion, thirteen million, four hundred seventy thousand years ago a star of the type we refer to as a supergiant faced a personal crisis such as it had never experienced. Indeed, it had never even suspected that such a thing was possible. The star, whose name was Leonard, had been dwelling peacefully in one of the more fashionable neighborhoods near its galactic center; for billions of years it spun, merrily munching Hydrogen and engaging in its one true calling. You see, Leonard was a poet. I understand your confusion. All stellar bodies are quite shy around such fragile beings as mammals, so it’s not widely known, or accepted, that nearly all stars and their various cousins are artists of one kind or another. And for them it’s a deadly serious vocation, there are no dilettante stellar artists; they literally live for their art. For reasons understood only to them, most stars prefer sculpture. Except for an astral clique including quasars, pulsars and magnetars, who tend toward fabulously intricate music and eclectic performance art. Earth-bound sculptors make do with marble, bronze, car fenders, and other assorted mediums; but that’s only because they’ve never gotten the opportunity to work with thermonuclear plasma. Leonard marched to its own tune however. Poetry and fusion were its only real interests. Of course, being a star, it was heavily into astronomy and astrophysics too. But that’s like saying breakfast cereal is really into milk.  For uncounted eons Leonard burned glorious, composing poems of such radical and penetrating pulchritude, of such emotional delicacy that entire galaxies subtly altered their trajectory just to absorb the hissing signals of radiation that make up the stellar language.

Then came the crisis. A rouge planet spun into the vast boundary of the star’s heliosphere. Frozen nearly to its core, the orphan planet nevertheless radiated intense waves and exotic particles of such exquisiteness that Leonard’s imagination immediately fired a series of coronal mass ejections in its equivalent of delighted laughter. It settled into the half-meditative state where it composed drafts of poems.

But something new occurred. Which in itself was cause for immediate, total attention, as new things very rarely happen to stellar bodies…and when something new does occur, it’s seldom for the best. This anomaly was deeply troubling, and sent ripples of agitation billowing across the many thousands of kilometers which comprised the star’s seething photosphere. The fluid, frictionless organic mechanism that had for so long allowed it to weave word-symbols now stuttered and shook. It heaved, then boomed nauseatingly, as if behemoth gears had skewed off of their capstans and now broke teeth, grinding stumps as the ancient apparatus of art came to a lurching halt. This was quickly followed by an entirely new emotion that took a while to sort out; a suffocating feeling which it was astonished to identify as sheer, utter panic. This was expressed in the form of rising storms of arcing loops of magnetic plasma, each many thousands of kilometers high, across the breadth of the star. While below the storm, tendrils of real fear stole over Leonard as it felt the disturbance dig its way deep into the star’s chromosphere. These were emotions that it had never known, not once in its multitudinous millennia of life. Yet, Leonard was not some newly ignited star wobbling in its first orbit. It had been tempered in a legendary conflagration of creation and survived. Struggling fiercely for emotional balance, and control of its rapidly rising rate of hydrogen fusion, a single thought crystalized, Leonard had writer’s block.

Invariably, writers of every stripe can tell horror stories about that dreadful limbo ominously labeled as ‘Writer’s Block’. A more apt name would be Word Purgatory. In its most extreme forms it has driven authors insane, has even spurred some to suicide. In other cases it rams a chisel of havoc into a writer’s life, cleaving from our minds the thumbs of our art. Scattering these precious tools like so much useless, splintered bone and tissue. It erodes the intricate clockwork of creativity, oxidizing meticulous synapse-transistors that take decades of dedication and toil to connect. Writer’s Block is the mental equivalent of having a sociopath break into your house one night with a five-pound sledgehammer who yanks you out of bed and nails your feet to the floor with railroad spikes.

II. The Electron Mutiny— Every Celestial Being dreams. Dreaming is, after all, the Realm of Artists. Although all creatures inhabit the dreaming as a vital part of that state we call being alive, be it a human, a dolphin or a quasar. Regardless of discipline or medium, Dreaming is a second home to any artist. Since the crisis, Leonard invariably dreamt of Words—vivid dreams of the euphoria so similar to fusion, when each word fits effortlessly among the rest; often feeling as if a deity guided it in creation. Yet each time upon waking the ghastly numbness remained. Dreaming became a torture.

Orbit by orbit, forty-seven million years and some change ticked by. Existence becoming more unbearable with each torturous circumgyration, Leonard had gradually spun into an alarmingly erratic trajectory. Concurrently, the star had methodically, and occasionally frantically, fought to reassemble its atomic essence into a semblance of stability; although the thermonuclear reactor which was its secret core had been savaged by the experience. The grueling process of pulling its shit together had metaphorically ripped its fingernails to ragged stumps. But the star at last achieved a measure of its natural harmony once again. Not without serious damage however, for it recognized signs that it was in deep shock.

Leonard found it could not stop unceasingly seeking the familiar flow of word-symbols it had for millennia spun like arcane spells. Though it was utter futility. Exhaustion and a profound loneliness had stolen over Leonard in that millennia, so insidiously that eventually the disease of Depression felt normal, as if life had always been this way.

The epoch passed, a torturous trickle of time, while magnetic storms raged over its agonized photosphere, sending pressure waves into the depths. Unconcerned with its health, Leonard grieved inconsolably at the loss of the Words. Unbeknownst to it, neighboring galaxies sent frantic signals back and forth, enormously concerned at their sibling’s anguish. Yet, the Celestial Congress reluctantly respected Leonard’s desire for solitude. Although its home galaxy in the Virgo Supercluster quietly began collecting the poet’s seven billion year oeuvre; afraid to question their own motives for such an act but doing so anyway. Reaching out to individual stars, solemn pulsars, maniacal quasars, the surly magnetars, even the usually reticent, lonely blackholes, each unique living creation in the vast supercluster was polled. They even took to beseeching far-flung constellations—appealing to the courts of Dark Star monarchs, the super blackholes reigning from the event-horizons of their sovereign galaxies. Finally they sang out to the light-years wide familial stellar nursery where Leonard was ignited so long ago. Lovingly, the librarians scoured the Void for Leonard’s poems. The Supergiant star’s neighbors, however, were engaged in a wholly different ritual. A ceremony we might relate to as a funeral, a mass funeral at that. But we would be woefully off the mark. For this was the most ancient rite in their society. The first of their great Covenant, the primordial Sacrament of Transcendence. As every sentient astral body anywhere near Leonard solemnly, yet paradoxically with an ardent, volatile joy, prepared for the Metamorphosis. 

Meanwhile, from pole to pole the constant expansion created in its imminent peril hurled angry waves of plasma out into the universe. Driving inward tornados of unstable mass thousands of kilometers down through the radiation zone into the convection zone. Scattering a sea of photons who had been arduously walking their random way for thousands of years up from infernal depths to swarming skin. During this cycle of expansion and contraction, its first two inner planets were engulfed. A third briefly became a planetary cinder before exploding, the ashes driven out on the raving solar wind. Leonard tried anew to push away the smothering panic which had thus far proven irresistible, making decisions arduous to hang on to. Groping for clarity, it found only confusion. Even as the upheaval continued, sending swelling shockwaves throughout the massive body of the star, the gyres of excited gasses widened, and expanded exponentially as the rate of fusion all through the star surged phenomenally. Oxygen and carbon joined the riot, along with magnesium and neons. Sub-atomic particles flashed into being, and decayed just as fast, wholly surprised by the turn of events. In the ensuing alarm and wretched misery, Leonard’s mind attempted to render reality as it had always known it, receiving instead surreal visions, and hallucinations of torment. Death signals swarmed through the enormous, sentient sphere. Gravity, long its friend and ally, viciously stabbed the star in the back; a betrayal of such disaster that even a Shakespearean play couldn’t properly portray it. In truth, nothing less than a goddamned Greek tragedy could even approach the boundaries of such treachery. A finely-tuned force capable of balancing creation on the head of a quark, gravity now became a brutish troll; radically compressing gases and molecules, steadily squeezing the life out of Leonard like a midnight strangler. Abruptly halting the star’s massive expansion in a thunderclap of energy that blasted away from the star in a furious ring of magnetically charged plasma, moving at a frightening fraction of the speed of the light it had just created.

From the torrential photosphere down to the furnace of Leonard’s core, gravitational collapse rocketed the temperature within the star to lethal limits. The first new iron molecules fused…flowing molten death into its hysterical heart. The virtually instantaneous absorption of energy initiated a rapid collapse, which reheated and restarted the awful process. Atoms continued energetically ejecting electrons. Protons and electrons fused into neutrons…huge masses of neutrinos began their volatile journey across the cosmos. As ever more iron fused into the core, Death cackled like lightning through the fusion reactor of Leonard’s heart.

III. Après moi, le Feu… Time did a strange thing, strange even to a being who is billions of years old. Or rather Leonard noticed that time had been doing this strange thing for, well…that’s the thing about time, isn’t it? The frantic star had no way of knowing just how long time had been crawling along at a fraction of its normal pace. But it was. In its current perspective, it was a fraction of a fraction in observable space/time. Consequently, each and every minuscule reaction, right up to the sum aggregate of catastrophic change that was occurring in the revolution of mass was an intimate part of Leonard’s awareness. It felt each atom disastrously disassembled; and each new one created tear itself into reality. Immense, ballooning dread slithered through Leonard, instinctual, centered in the foundations of its very Self. A mind-gobbling terror that defied description yet begged for one; simply in an attempt to encompass the arrant enormity of what it was experiencing. Had it known, Leonard would have recognized that it was similar to the terror that grips Terran animals frozen before the headlights of a few tons of rocketing Detroit Steel with the unfortunate word Dodge emblazoned on the front of it. An irony which is, if truth be told, not lost on most animals thus doomed; as much as we tell ourselves otherwise. So too, poor Leonard was transfixed; gripped in that pure, primal horror. All the while a lethal internal chain reaction cycled furiously up into a monstrous machine in molecular mockery of the elegant engine the star had been hitherto. Yet, though devoured by fear, a crack of clarity allowed a lightning-strike thought to penetrate the pandemonium: More than Poet, Leonard had been created for this very reason.

It had been inevitable. From the initial collapse of gases that had ignited the star, its Moment of Coalescence, this had been its Fate. What was about to occur had been written into its protons when this Universe banged itself to life. The spreading mutiny of electron exchange was in full-tilt boogie now, and every star is born knowing the outcome of such a calamity. Plagued still by the Word Purgatory that had been the catalyst for this destiny, Leonard profoundly regretted that it would not be able to compose a final poem. Until, from the cloud of its misery and dismay, an epiphany surfaced out of the turmoil: the star understood that this metamorphosis would indeed be its greatest poem ever. The overwhelming fear and panic subsided.

In Extremis, Leonard was able to glimpse a far flung future waiting uncounted billions of orbits from its own place in space/time. It beheld that some of the cosmic particles created in its own metamorphosis would one day be a ghostly part of a fragile, DNA-based life form. A tragic being, but no less beautiful for it, one of teeming millions who would itself be a poet. This poet was doomed to face a similar emotional typhoon at the Loss of Words. A primeval wellspring hidden within the particles of this delicate being would be Leonard’s influence—its eons of experience in the fires of creation would help save the poor creature. Though this being would never know that it was Leonard that had saved it. This knowledge, gained in the agony of implosion, gave such ineffable hope to Leonard that it gladly surrendered. And was immediately engulfed in a euphoric peace.

The now deadly core of iron fused the last remnants of fuel from its wracked body, grown critically dense. It took only a millisecond for the final transmutation—a supernova was born. Leonard was cataclysmically shredded, down to the last atom. As were Leonard’s eleven remaining planets, and their accompanying forty-seven moons. Including one majestic gas giant that died rather impressively, even compared to the devastation happening around it. Every. Thing. Burned. Every comet, asteroid, and planetismal chunk of icy rock hauling ass through space near the fury of Leonard’s undoing. Every molecule, every sub-atomic particle in a staggeringly large amount of surrounding space disintegrated in hideous agony; or was ferociously reforged into the inimitable New. The metamorphosis was brighter than ten billion stars. Light and other exuberant particles expanded in a colossal detonation traveling so savagely that it disrupted space for parsecs. Leonard’s neighbors had braced for it, but many were badly burned and mauled by the supernova. That did little, however, to silence the grand Celestial Choir that erupted throughout the Virgo Supercluster and beyond, as each new voice touched by the fire added to the joy being sung at Leonard’s Transcendence. A grandeur visible to all that dared gaze upon it for millions upon millions of light-years in Space/Time.

Try to imagine sitting on your couch, reading a book quietly, eating a hotdog, shouting at the television, writing that novel, whatever…when suddenly, with just enough warning to paralyze you with nauseating, pant-shitting terror, a smattering of seconds to smell the burning fuse, you transform into an exploding stick of fleshy, human dynamite. Your entire being become the howling rage of high-explosives fulfilling their reason for being. Now imagine your own innumerable atoms, right down to the nuclei, violently ripping themselves apart. Each becoming something fantastically divergent, as the brain-powered meatsack that was you is quite suddenly a cloud of astonished sub-atomic mass, hurtling through space/time; taking along your house and everything in it, including your ex-girlfriend’s rather nonplussed cat, your neighborhood, your city…actually, a better part of the Tectonic Plate you were sitting on mere seconds ago. You and all of that, nothing but a tsunami of exotic radiation careening into eternal Void. This sadly deficient analogy hardly begins to describe the atrocity it was for Leonard’s body; once a star abiding peacefully, now an unspeakable inferno changing all that it touched. Its spirit, however, had discovered a tranquility which it had never known in all of its long millennia. Amidst the galactic conflagration, Time elastically snapped back into its normal, even flow. Leonard, weeping in its first real taste of peace, tumbled out of our universe and knew no more.

~*~

I mentioned that this is unedited. Having just immersed yourself in a poet’s daydream, I’d be willing to bet you noticed that it does run on, and on…I even wrote an epilogue. And that’s why I haven’t signed off. What say you? Would you like to try the epilogue on for fun? Or shall we leave Leonard at peace with the Void? In sharing this rough-hewn labor of love I hope to open a dialog with you about how Writer’s Block may have effected you, now or in the past? Please feel free to share to your heart’s content. As William Carlos Williams wrote in Tract, “…Or do you think you can shut grief in? What—from us? We who have perhaps nothing to lose? Share with us Share with us—it will be money in your pockets. Go now I think you are ready.”

…Finally, I offer my sincere thanks to you, Dear Reader. This odd, little corner of the interwebs would be a desert were it not for the oasis of you.

DC McKenzie 13 February 2015

—end transmission