Friday, April 19, 2024

Black Hole by Eric Chiles

Astronomers release image of Sagittarius A* during period of hyperinflation. May 2022.

Bills, nothing but bills, piles of them,
more than there’s money, such a glut
they turn the sweetness of dessert
into a bitter acid churning in my gut.

A moon of meals has passed my lips
before this night’s chore, the monthly
settling of accounts, the regular reckoning
of the costs of need and cupidity.

More yesses than nos, desires than denials,
have assuaged the paucity of my soul
with things to please the eye, touch and tongue,
with the satisfaction of filling some hole.

It’s the all consuming weight of things
tied about my neck that chokes and tears
at my throat. Not now. I need to breathe,
to think. But where? Outside for air.

The night is clear and black. No moon,
just the pinpricks of stars, the echoes
of light from the beginnings of time,
speeding so fast, so far, they’re shadows,

mere reference points, of where they were.
Light and energy released from matter
by the alchemy of fusion and fission
in uncountable suns – an ethereal scatter

of brightness and power that if caught
close enough by a leaf can amplify
brown earth into fruit and blossoms.
Such mystery in the sky, so far, so nigh.

Oh, to be star shine bursting free from mass
and the gravity of things into enlightenment.
Damn the desire to hold onto stuff
like the roots of a tree dependent

on the light of that burning, nearby star,
like the way my fingers gripped the pen
that scrawled numbers on so many
checks to pay so many bills when

none of it lasts longer than a spark.
Where in this darkness is the faint glow
of the Milky Way’s wavering disk, where
the light of stars layer their show

like beadwork on a great swirling gown
spun round and round around a gay
maiden wedded to the grasp of a hungry,
evil, gravitational gnome? They say

there’s a black hole at the center of things,
an upside down star whose raging flume
sucks all that comes close into a chaos
as hopeless as Dante’s dream of doom.

Blackness so dense that a teaspoon of it
could balance more than a billion worlds,
so strong and corrupting it can bend
the purest light any supernova ever hurled.

Just like a bat using its sonar to track
a luna moth following a pheromone trail
to its love at night, without warning a black
maw of hunger snaps its beauty as it flails.

That’s the sudden despair of Hell – a black hole
of gluttony on quiet wings, waiting in
the cold lull of midnight to pluck
careless lights, one by one, from heaven

until all that’s left is its invisible
malignant self and the grating, howling
of billions of billions of bills, bills, bills!


After a newspaper career, Eric Chiles began teaching writing and journalism at colleges in eastern Pennsylvania. He is the author of the chapbook "Caught in Between," and besides Disturb the Universe Magazine, his poetry has appeared in such journals as Blue Collar Review, Canary, Gravel, Plainsongs, Rattle, Sport Literate, Tar River Poetry, and the Voices Project.