"JANUARY, BEFORE AND AFTER" - a poem by Joseph Breitman

Repetitive sounds of winter skies

Slicing open

Descending their guts onto

Chaotic skyscrapers

And disorderly residents

Forcing themselves into each other


Outside, trees are slipping and dissolving

Like dreams made of mud

Spewing out of your overstuffed ears

Sickly beige church

Overburdened by wormwood

And scintillating, black centipedes

Wail and whimpers

In constantly irregular, nauseating patterns

Infecting the empty wanderers

With their primitive subconsciousness

And littering the already collapsing scenery

With prevailing tableaus of

Carnivorous gloom.


Do you remember any of this?


Across an ocean of scaphism,

Devouring insects pushing past evolution,

And sinking cargo tanks

Of discarded vestigial limbs drained of blood

Lies the tattered remnants of my home

Built up with miscarried

Fetal tissue,

Undead dangers of my unwanted becoming,

Lined with sick mirrors, inverted images,

Infected maggot eggs

Hatching malaise and lethal ideation

In my fabric of existence.


I can’t return here,

But here I am.


Anesthetize the last twelve months

Slash downwards, force the cavity open

Hold and fold back the tissue,

There we are,

Careened in a new human shape

Blissfully rotting away

Among a morose city of drunken industrialization,

Strewn with defaced graves

Of shared heroes we’ll never meet.


I’m tracing little whispering cherubs

Carved into your chest,

As phantasmagoric ballets creep through

Our frozen windowpane

Cacophonous delirium swells between

Thin, mold-encrusted walls

We swap and swallow our pills

Our bodies involuntarily dancing

To bells in a violent confrontation,

Ancient surrounding stone buildings

Resonating with madcap sirens

And overwhelming

Young adult decay.


You don’t remember,

I couldn’t ever imagine

Any of this



Those unwanted last days,

My mind spun unendingly

With fear of returning to

The perpetual gray place of once abandoned home,

And nonsensical visions of love

Even after your still unbelievable betrayal.

To reach out and hold you forever,

No matter where in the disgusting, collapsing, meaningless world,

No matter our illnesses, upsets,

And compounding panics of the encroaching unknown,

The feeling I was forced to suppress,

Waiting for the anger to take hold,

Erase my intoxicatingly loving perception of you,

But it never came,

I’m stuck in a haze of rejection

And abandonment.


Caccooned in a barbed wire quilt

Of your making,

Grafting and bonding to my scabbed,

Infected skin,

Coiled in fervent, isolated nightmares

Not ready to leave

The place we once agreed to call our home.


Hollow deadness of winter descends,

I’m screeching my empty,

Frozen voice

Through the rolling plague of silence

You’ve infected between us,

Still unable to accept


That you’re long since gone.

It’s already been a year,

Nothing changes,

Nothing ends,

For the rest of my anemic, crippled days,

You’re nowhere to be found, and I’ll never understand

Why won’t you care?




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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