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.

44 thoughts on “Homunculus of death”

  1. 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.


  2. 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….

  3. This post resonates with me. I’d like to think mine was born after ending a relationship with my boyfriend, but if I’m honest with myself, it’s always been there, the foul beastie, or came into being when I became a virtual orphan at a very young age. I love this part of what you write: “I cannot deny the horrid little beastโ€™s existence, nor should I, for it is a part of me.” What irritates me is when there is a huge push to be light and happy and give the appearance of perfect peace, especially lately, when there is already so much darkness afoot. To me it feels like an unfair denial of what many are feeling right now. If that inner homunculus wants to do a dance under the full moon let it. Much better than chaining it in the basement where it will stink up the place.

    1. If that inner homunculus wants to do a dance under the full moon let it.

      Lisa, this is my conclusion too… thank you so much for your kind support ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Laura, I’m very sorry to hear of your father’s death. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me. In Jewish tradition, when somebody dies, there’s an expression that we use to comfort mourners: “Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet” – this means: “Blessed is the True Judge”. I’m not entirely sure how much I believe this idea, but I do find that having something to share from the arsenal of my tradition is very helpful when my own words fail me.


  4. I read your poems on Twitter! So much said in so few words… Awesome David

    Grief is just so hard to let go….each time we find an answer, we find more questions

  5. This is a fascinating insight into your grieving process, David. Thank you for sharing. I hope the homunculus is helping and not reopening wounds that are trying to heal!

  6. Writing out our feelings is so cathartic – even when you don’t realise that’s what you are doing. I hope you are feeling better now. My father was the first person close to me to die and I found it bewildering – where was he – he couldn’t just not be. I haven’t worked it out yet and it’s more than 30 years ago.

      1. I discovered a prompt in 2014 that led me to the Writing Community there on my old account. I took a nearly three year social media break, & Twitter poetry was what I missed the most. I came back April of last year for National Poetry Writing Month & I’m glad I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Yes, when you said “that something new took root โ€“ somethingย was bornย within me that day.”

  7. Human beings are complex creatures. I think you are right that it is a healthy thing to express this aspect of yourself as well as the intellectual, creative, and and other forward-looking aspects. I think that where we get into trouble with this is when we are oblivious to some of the more negative or painful thoughts we have and deny their existence. They tend to come out of hiding and bite us unexpectedly.

    For several years after my husband’s death eighteen years ago, these thoughts would be triggered, and I would suddenly be in tears, even though normally, I seldom cry. I had tried for four years to finish a poem about my husband’s death before finally finishing and publishing it on my blog six months ago. I am glad that you have discovered an avenue to express the feelings you need to express. All the best, David. โค

          1. Oops ๐Ÿ˜ณ

            I thought you were referring to one of my poems, but I see that you were actually referring to Cheryl’s! I absolutely agree with you ๐Ÿ™‚


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