“The Year That Burned” by Brett Petersen

Reading by the author

In the year 2020, God decided to murder the world.

He cast down a plague of germs

To fill the lungs of the sinners

To choke them

To drown them

To make them cry out through plastic

To shovel them into a pit

To burn the piles

So that the smoke might rise

And fill the nostrils of the One

Whose demands can never be fulfilled

Whose throne is made of bones

Whose goblet is my grandfather’s skull

Who drinks to the sounds of coughing

Weeping, bleeding: the shards of dreams tinkling.

When this plague is over, we will shuffle into the light.

Our feet will touch the earth and we will shiver.

Contact with others will terrify us

And we will slither back into our holes

To become one with the laundry and dust

Our air stinking of old food and masturbation.

We’ll no longer know what to do

When confronted with the world.

Our will broken by the plague.

Our capacity for thrill atrophied by fatigue.

We all died long before the plague arrived.

Our death came the day we were born.

Our slow, long, unavoidable fate

Has followed us all our lives

And has driven every desire and resentment

Above and beneath our awareness.

All that’s changed is now we’re closer to the truth.

Our youth has been cast into the flames

Our childhood charred and disintegrated.

2020 was the year that burned:

A pitiful, anguished, ugly thing

About which praises will never be sung:

An abomination whose architects should be hung.

But everyone knows the guilty always go free

And the innocent feed the worms and trees.

If any good can come of this

Perhaps in the future it will be written

That those smitten in the scourge of 2020

Were enlisted in a divine army

Not commanded by a tyrant

But a noble General fighting for justice

In a place far worse off than this.

If we could see that other world

And watch their children die and mothers scream

Maybe we would understand

Why we were left to fend for ourselves.

Yes, 2020 was the year that burned.

It smoldered in a pit

And we’ll be glad to see it go.

But as some religious mystics say

Suffering is the temperance of the soul.

The soul of the human race

Needed to be cleansed by fire

So that the healing process might begin

In 2021.

Brett Petersen is the author of The Parasite From Proto-Space & Other Stories,frontman of Raziel’s Tree, and drummer for Dionysus Effect. All things Brett Petersen can be found at jellyfishentity.wordpress.com.

Image: “Immortal F*ck” by Brett Petersen

Special Feature: F2020

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