Homunculus of death

Disconcertingly out of sync, perceptions jumbled, receptors misfiring, I remain immediately near but never fully within the self Iโ€™d always known, receiving on an unfamiliar, piercing wavelength.

Slowly, slowly, I have come to understand
this: My pulse has been attuned to loss.

-Me, ‘The Skeptic’s Kaddish’ #47, June 23, 2019

I thought of my above words (which I wrote towards the end of my year of mourning for Papa) just recently because I’d noticed an unexpected degree of darkness and morbidity increasingly manifesting itself through my Twitter poetry.

Inspired by Ingrid, a fellow poet-blogger, I created this Twitter account and began writing daily Twitter poems at the turn of the year. At first, it seemed a light, creative exercise for me – a way to get my juices flowing. Now, having written more than two weeks of Twitter poems, I am glad I took the challenge – for reasons unforeseen.

Obviously, Twitter poetry is short. From a technical perspective, this requires that poets consider every word; every syllable; every letter. I knew this, and I do, expectedly, savor the difficulty of producing snippets of lines and verses that resonate. It’s not so easy, and it’s often frustrating to have my poetry limited by length, but it’s been very, very rewarding.

However, as I mentioned, there is something much deeper that I’ve been noticing. The terseness of these poems is actually – liberating. You see, this medium encourages me to spit out ideas without expounding upon them, very much unlike this blog post, in which I want to explore a new idea of mine with you in some depth. Twitter’s restrictions, I am finding, have been freeing me – from myself.

Unlike some other mourners that I’ve known, I would not say that something died in me when Papa passed away. Rather, I would say that something new took root – something was born within me that day – an unrelenting and unsparing dreadful little homunculus. Ever since, this somber fellow has colored all of my thoughts in shades of death, but whenever I have attempted to express these morbid thoughts in verse or prose my mind has quickly taken over from the gloomy creature in an attempt to beautify, contextualize, or rationalize them…

But Twitter won’t allow this

Twitter simply doesn’t permit my mind the space it needs to blunt the heartache caused me by the homunculus. The creature eagerly spits out its ceaseless death and fatalism, and, finding purchase in the Twitterverse, its words sit there, raw and unanswerable.

Now, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an unhappy person; I am blessed in many, many ways, and I love being alive. Still, my perception of the world ever since Papa died bears a deep, flapping, shadowy gash, which the homunculus of death is constantly drawn towards. It simply won’t let me ignore the wound. The gash cannot be unseen, and the homunculus will not be subdued.

And… so… it seems a healthy thing to me to allow my homunculus free rein over my Twitter account, whenever it so desires. I cannot deny the horrid little beast’s existence, nor should I, for it is a part of me.

Perhaps, by reading its Twitter poetry, I will be better able to understand its mind – and my own.

49 thoughts on “Homunculus of death”

  1. You’ve articulated a perfect description for this phenomenon and I can relate to it so well. As you know, most of my poetry deals with intense sadness, loneliness and depressive themes. It really does feel as though a homunculus has taken up residence within me at some point in the distant past and keeps stirring the pot of painful emotions inside me whenever I write. I’m not sure it will ever change for me. Writing (or any creative endeavor) certainly eases the intensity of the feelings, so there’s that sort of odd backhanded inspiration to keep writing/creating, even if it’s mostly bleak material. Anyway, this was such an intriguing read. I know it’s been a little while, but I hope you’ll accept my condolences regarding your father. Keep writing, David. It’s healing, not only for you but for your readers as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It really does feel as though a homunculus has taken up residence within me at some point in the distant past and keeps stirring the pot of painful emotions inside me whenever I write. Iโ€™m not sure it will ever change for me.

      Mike, if I’m overstepping, please forgive me, but is this something you’ve sought any help with? I ask as somebody who did.

      I know itโ€™s been a little while, but I hope youโ€™ll accept my condolences regarding your father.

      Thank you.

      Itโ€™s healing, not only for you but for your readers as well.

      And ~ thank you.


      1. Hey, David. I’m in my eleventh year of counseling at the moment. I’ve had PTSD therapy (including EMDR, which backfired and resulted in some long-term physical symptoms I’m still struggling with three years later). In a nutshell, my childhood was hell. At my current age, a lot of this stuff is set in stone now and the best I can do is continue to manage it since it can’t be “fixed.” Obviously, the homunculus reference was metaphorical, but I do battle with my past trauma and I’m pretty sure it will continue. Writing about it helps, and I’ve written about some of it in my deaf essays on my blog. Suffice to say, I have some things on my plate that I’m still trying to deal with after all these years. As for over-stepping, no worries–I’m proud of my years in therapy. I’m still here, still trying, because of it. I wear it as a sort of badge of courage. Such is life. We all have our crosses to bear. I wish things were different, but they’re not. Thanks for your concern, good sir. Much appreciated.

          1. Boy, this is really profound… Thanks, David. This helps a lot. Maybe I can find a printable version of this and hang it on the wall above my monitor so I can see it every day. Thanks for your kindness, David. I sincerely appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thanks for sharing your homunculus. I must confess I have my own and she is peeking her head ’round the corner as the anniversary of my brother’s suicide draws near. I think I may let her rein a while to see where unlicensed driving will lead me.

        1. In Jewish tradition, when somebody dies we say the following to the mourners: “Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet”. This means: “Blessed is the True Judge.” Personally, I don’t know how much I believe this because I struggle with my faith, but it’s very comforting to have something like this in the arsenal of my tradition when my own words fail me…

          I am deeply sorry for your loss, Simona. Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet.


  3. We have multiple facets to our hearts and minds. It is good to acknowledge the differences within ourselves without giving control to a single emotion or condition….

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