Depeche Mode, the Killing Silence of Space & the Void Inside Us All by Charles L. Crowley

Nothing will kill you.
Nothing will tear you apart, limb from aching limb.
Nothing, yes, just beyond these walls—nothing will rip you to—

“People only listen to Depeche Mode on the weekends,” he says, as he fills my cup. Our fingers lightly touch and then he goes to change the song—
Enjoy the Silence[1]—enjoy this breath that is suddenly a tornado.

I eat granola on the way to mars. Freeze-dried ice cream is alright, but I prefer granola.

“I remember those two seconds between songs on a cd, that momentary emptiness”—
I was in the fifth grade when I got my first CD-player.
Enjoy the silence between songs because it’s the only rest you’ll get between drafts of noise—the outside air creeping in through gaps below closed doors. The drafts I try to keep out. The air I try to keep separate.

“Open a window, it’s getting stuffy.”
You can’t open windows in space.

The CD-player was made by Virgin.
I was too embarrassed to tell my friends the brand name.
Don’t talk about ‘sex,’ don’t ask questions about the practice; memorize this biological data, and check yourself for bumps here and there—don’t ask questions—just pray, just pray.
My Virgin CD-player, I’d listen to the cd spin—“don’t put on the headphones, just listen to me spin, faster and faster.” Only if you listen to me and my sins and my Christmas list: one light saber and a spaceship. Please.

“You’re dreaming,” says the spinning.

Sometimes I dream of paper cuts. Sometimes I dream of coming undone—unwinding as I listen to the shrill drop of the needle on my Panasonic record player, or the popping just before the record starts to play—

Enjoy the nostalgia that suddenly overwhelms you, the terrible hands of nothingness, the weighted fingers of space, that tear your tiny fibrous being to shreds —of carbon, of hydrogen; the strings that vibrate deep down, subatomic, will -snap too—they will break to nothing, and Mother Space and Father Time will hold hands as they lament the passing of another one of their children to the void—to the colorless future—to the aimless world, open wide—

Was it there that I first met you?

“Do you want to be an astronaut? The Apollo missions were a scam, you know.”

I think God gave us the Old Testament because he knew all that nothingness would scare us.

“You’ll never find what you’re looking for out there—it’s all just darkness—with speckled light like dust.”

Dark Matter—I think it’s the souls of all the people who lived with such rage and violence, and found, at the end of their lives, that they were never really made to live—made to live at all—
at least not here.

SOMETIMES I DREAM OF PAPER CUTS—and when I can stop focusing on the pain, my skin separating, my body—two from one—the contiguous torn—I focus on the blood falling to the floor. And often I realize that there is no floor. No floor at all—no place to stand—Only space— & I am falling, drop by drop into it.

NOTHING WILL KILL YOU. NOTHING WILL TEAR YOU QUIETLY APART: ATOM FROM ATOM, WOVEN STRING from skin and arm from shoulder and aging mind from ageless thought.

“I am too embarrassed to tell my friends that I am still a virgin,” he says after his third shot of vodka. Later that night I watch him vomit and I go to lift his head up and wipe the mucous from his lips. “I’m not like this. This isn’t me,” he says.
I walk outside and I look up. Why didn’t Santa bring me a light saber?
Why I am here and not there?

“Imagine being in a space-shuttle and seeing Jesus outside the window. He keeps asking you to open up, but you know that the nothingness will kill you. Ya, that’s kind of like what living is.”

I wish the priest had said that on Sunday. But instead I am left here with two and half sermons on abstinence. And my sins tallied on my arm. And I’m waiting to go home, so that I can tell my CD-player about all the black holes I’ve created and sustained.

My friend reads my poem about getting lost in the vacuum:
“People are less likely to listen to a poem about space travel, Charles. Make it personal. Make it about a boy and a girl. Make it about loss. Make it about detachment and how we all just want to find connection. Charles, write about that time your father asked you to take out the trash; write about how he said you could wear his shoes—write about how they were too big for you. Singularity is not so interesting, as a boy trying to fit in, trying to find out who he is, trying to live up to expectation.”

Those two seconds of silence between songs—they said it all. They said it so much better than I ever could. If Jesus asked me to open the space shuttle for him… I don’t know if I would. I know I’d save him some granola, in case he somehow made it inside.
But the nothingness is too frightening for now.

Because nothing will kill you and nothing will tear you quietly apart.
And so yes, sometimes I dream of paper cuts; and sometimes I bleed and sometimes nothing comes out of me.
But other times, I dream of us,
underneath a willow tree,
counting stars beneath its boughs and eaves.
“Santa never brought you a light saber?” he says. He laughs… he’s gone.
Up there, down here, I find, outstretched, the truth stays consistent,
unlike the sun and her dust brothers:
“All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms.” [1]
[1] “Enjoy the Silence,” Violator. Depeche Mode. Mute. 1990.

Charles L. Crowley lives in Pasadena, California. His work has previously appeared in the West Wind literary journal and The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s watching Hesei era Godzilla films or playing shows with his band in dive bars and clubs.