"CIVILIZED DECAY" - a poem by Joseph Breitman

I woke up as a locust

Bereft of my storm,

Crushed wings fluttering out from

Blasted flesh, firmament of asbestos,

And tear-soaked rubble.

Half of my exoskeleton

Rummaging its way out of

Sacrificed child's sliced open face,

Sheets of shattered glass

And smoking shrapnel

Glimmers beautifully,

Replacing his dulled smile.


Sirens explode

Cloaked, hunched over wraiths

Wrap themselves in desert sand

And miles of distended organs.


Drinking in the air raid,

Remembering to fly

With the aid of screams from drafted

Dragged behind dead,

Interlocking amputees

Crawling their way

To the long-collapsed hospital,

As a great steel star soars in darkened grayness

Dropping the next bomb

That wails and laughs

Through brilliant reddened clouds,


“There's plenty more where that came from.”




I woke up as a centipede

Scurrying out from

Overturned, smoldering

Automobile wreckage,

Inverted and twisted

Nephilim youth trapped inside

Grinning with exhaust fumes

Billowing between holes in withered lips.


A malformed, prepubescent torso


In the remaining confines of the exhaust pipe,

Distorted pavement beneath

Littered with skinned faces

Shadowed amputations

And draining colors

Evaporating into the wasteland sky.


They all must have

Missed the warning,

Skyscrapers of rotten meat

Dissect the overstuffed graves


Wretched, scabbed-over survivors

Fornicate through each other

Unnaturally convulsing upwards

On a black rainbow of flowing tourniquets

Trying not to wonder

Who’s the master above

Who’s struggling to impale themselves

With the runoff of hazardous waste disposals

And habit-forming little pills,

Their wounds spilling

Great orange, cancerous clouds.


I’m suffocating

On their half-mechanical remains,

A path of ripped intestines

And antifreeze

Spells out perpetuating halos,

Silenced prophecies of fallen angels,

Muddles beneath

My fragile, interlocking system of legs.



I woke up as a pill bug

Cascading down the ceiling

Marked with irregular fluid streaks,

Crimson Rorschach,

Plunged into a caved-in chest

Down a raining flood of dizzying moths

Flecks of burning bath salts

Bombarding the atrocious molecules


Nothing else living moves,

Yet I’m face to face with the enormous

Rotten gummed mouth

Of a foreign man in a foreign place

Gray face, jagged glass and rusted cans

Smashed in the black holes

Where his eyes should be.


Menstrual howls rip through,

Finally exterminating

Already corrupted

Nuclear home,

Trenches of mold and blood

Runs across bathroom tile

Carrying away

The splayed-out and brainless

Cancelled life

That was once unforming


Mother lies in mangled abundance

While eyeless father feasts

On the unmade one’s

Tiny brains.




I woke up…

A shivering botfly

Or maybe something entirely new,

Wheezing into new life

From pale, eroded pores

Lining the last unmutated child,

Born from the cataclysmic severance

Left as a final replacement for

This ruined orbiting ovum

In blighted space.


I'm the last sign of life

Now begotten,

With no sight

No feeling

No misguided, deluded purpose,

Only this gradually disappearing notion,

A fading hue of consciousness,

Which gifts me unimaginable gratitude

That I didn't come back

In the doomed and disgusting

Damnation that is

Human flesh.



Joseph Breitman is a writer who has always valued and utilized poetry, prose writing, and storytelling to channel and process a worsening and increasingly bleak outlook on the world and to find some small semblance of meaning and value in the dirge of existence. He hopes to bring a sense of recognition to those who feel similarly and to shine a direct light on the horror, nonsense, and existential meaninglessness of the human race to those who refuse to face the fact that human life may not be worth living. 


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