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the art of decomposition

by Hijinks

i fear that i am wasting the happiest years of my life
on fungal emotions: hyphae that start deep within my alveoli
and slowly thread themselves up through capillaries,
migrating towards my heart.
i feel them in the way my breath hitches
when i take the stairs to third period biology -
a physical manifestation of the fact
that i spend all day crunched up on my bed
manufacturing reasons for people to hate me.
i smell them in the smoke i could have sworn
was creeping in through the open window; it turns out
it is just my lungs on fire.

and before i can neglect to feed the hyphae
the receding bits of my sense-of-self,
they dig their way into my nerves. they make me shiver
with synthetic hypothermia while i force myself
to sit through a meeting in a room full of strangers.
even when i am safe under my sheets,
the mycelium does not desert me.
it grows around my left ventricle,
squeezing so tight that finally my heart spasms
forward against my collarbone. it is racing some phantom
fear that creeps up my spinal cord in the bluelight of my phone.

soon a lone hypha will break through my skin,
leading the charge, until they all explode out of me
so that i look nothing more than a pincushion.
i think it has already started, in the way dandruff
flakes off my hairline. i am disintegrating as dead things do
under a fungus's touch, from the inside out.
i will not pretend it is not preoccupying to know
i am wasting the best years of my life on decomposition.

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1065 Reviews

Points: 185
Reviews: 1065

Sat Oct 15, 2022 4:06 pm
vampricone6783 wrote a review...

I really enjoyed this poem! I like how you write that decomposition is the emotions that can kill. Like decomposition, overwhelming emotions can destroy someone from the inside-out, making them unrecognizable to those around them, until they are nothing but an empty husk.

I wonder if this someone is bleeding from the maggots eating away at their flesh? I would like to see this in the poem.

Overall, I’d say that this was very lovely to read. I wish you an amazing day/night.

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684 Reviews

Points: 84248
Reviews: 684

Sun Sep 18, 2022 3:26 am
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Plume wrote a review...

Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Ooh, this was another great poem from you! As both a bio and poetry nerd, I loved the intersection between the two you drew in this poem. As always, I absolutely adored your imagery and word usage in this—those last four lines are absolutely gorgeous.

One thing I enjoyed was the way the poem felt... detached, in a way. I'm not sure if you've ever heard of those fungi that can hijack ants and sort of turn them into zombies, but that was what I kind of had in mind as I was reading. The overall narrative felt like an exploration of both burnout and also depression in a way, but both focused on that sort of helpless, wasting-away feeling that happens in both of them. The speaker sounded tired throughout and almost resigned to the disintegration and their ultimate decomposition. I thought that the speaker's low (or even lack of) energy contrasted well with the images of this thriving fungus that's essentially "feeding" on the speaker—it turned it into this parasite that I thought was a really nice feature. I especially liked the descriptions of it in the third and fourth stanzas; you did an excellent job of visually showing the decomposition of the speaker and the thriving fungus.

I also liked the almost circular ending you had; the subtle change from "i fear that i am wasting" to "i am wasting" gave the poem a nice, yet depressive, finality, and the difference between the more human "fungal emotions" versus full on "decomposition" also added to that nice finality while also calling back the first lines. (I also just really love patterns in poetry and I thought you executed it nicely here.)

One thing that might be interesting to explore is seeing if the poem could decompose itself, in some way. I found that it seemed very composed for something about decay. It could be interesting to play around with the physical shape of the poem, or even doing something with sentence structure to show decay both in the subject and form of the poem. This is by no means a requirement, but it could be interesting to play around with, and also add even more unique choices.

Overall: nice work!! I think you used some wonderful language choices here to build a quite interesting poem. I hope to read more of your work soon! Feel free to ask any further questions; I'd be happy to answer them! Until next time!

I like to create sympathy for my characters, then set the monsters loose.
— Stephen King