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by Michael Chao

"1. an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale"


Under fever and ash, smoke of consumption chokes, incineration fueled by the fiber-optic cables and twenty-four hour news cycles. Mercury creeps upwards until the bulb bursts, slivered glass and silvered sweat stain the faces on every screen. An abandoned cup of tea left sitting across the room on the table, lazy spirals of steam, billowing, lessening, diminishing as the chill of the room seeps in.


"2. the complete final destruction of the world, as described in the biblical book of Revelation"


I have heard there is no sound beyond our atmosphere, without the resonance of air there can only be silence. I imagine it must echo like the entropy of being alone, echo like the feeling of an empty room, echo like the scream muffled by pillows, echo like the quiet before a roar.

The world I imagined into being tears itself apart in this vacuum, my universe cascading into the gravity well of a black hole. Destruction will always do what it does best, in the only way it knows how. I will hear my own voice echo, watch as the single lightbulb hangs above a tea-stained table in a bare room. Synonyms for this occurrence sound like stepping on used chewing gum, the reverberating ping of a drop in a tin bucket, exponential silence after goodbye.


"3. from the Greek apo and kalýptein meaning 'to uncover, to disclose, to reveal.'” 


Everything here happens silently, the rise, the fall, the shattering. Simultaneous beginnings and ends where stars still burn; gently swinging in the dark at the ends of their strings. This is all they know how to do, and it is enough. Their light loosed across a quiet universe - minutes - hours - days - years - millenia pass before their glint finds my eyes in the dark, always just out of reach. A familiar pull to this point in space, an inescapable singularity where everything is torn apart and born again. Every moment is at once future, present, and past. The cup of tea is remembered, water reheated. Transform to escape once more, the vapor making slow ascent, combustion and collapse of a million bright pinholes the only illumination, until nothing.

About the Author

Michael Lee Chao is a photographer and poet originally from the Hudson Valley region of New York. He voluntarily moved back east from warm and sunny San Diego in 2018 and some days he doesn’t remember why. Michael is currently a third-year MFA candidate at Emerson College and a teacher in Emerson’s first-year Writing Studies Program. His poetry work has been published in City Works Literary Journal and Tempered Runes Press.

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