Category Archives: Issue 4

Death and Life in the Power of Google

by Shifra Montag

People who know me laugh at me for Googling everything. What can I say? I like having the answers. To be honest, I don’t understand people who don’t. How can you live with not knowing the definitive answer to whatever it is you are wondering about, when it is only a few clicks away?

Right now I am wondering about suicide. I have already decided to do it. I know the how (fatal overdose of over the counter medications), the why (too complicated to go into, and honestly, I don’t know you that well) and the when (tonight). I just wonder whether there is something I have overlooked. I mean, I might as well go out with a bang.

I spill the hundreds of pills I have been accumulating for over a year onto my pillow. It looks a little bit like a ball playpen for the Borrowers. White, green, red, blue, and yellow…. I am probably the only person to see these colors and immediately think of the Google logo.

There is something appealing about all the colors of the pills covering my pillow. Nothing else about a fatal overdose is remotely glamorous, yet that is the method of many famous suicides. I can’t shake off the feeling that there is an element of suicide I have neglected.

I type the words “famous suicides” into the search bar and press enter. The first couple of entries are from Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia almost as much as I love Google. It provides a list of notable people who terminated their own lives. There is also an entry about… suicide notes!

I knew I was missing something. I can’t kill myself without leaving a note, can I?

I already told you that people who know me laugh at me for Googling everything. I believe I can stop whenever I want (please don’t remind me that all addicts say the same thing) but I don’t see why I should. Google can help with nearly any problem. Even if it can’t provide the answer, it can usually point you in the right direction.

Google can give me examples of suicide letters. I wonder whether anyone put up a guide to writing a suicide letter online? After all, there are “How To”s on everything from tying your shoes to kissing.

I Google “how to write a suicide letter”. I’m not sure whether or not I’m surprised at the number of articles on the subject. One article in particular catches my attention. It poses the question: “Should You Leave a Suicide Note Before You Kill Yourself?” Maybe I can kill myself without leaving a note. I click on the link to the article.

“Should you leave a suicide note before you kill yourself?” it begins.

If you are asking that question, you are asking the wrong question. This is the question that you need to ask: How can I get HELP? If you are thinking about writing a suicide note, I mean REALLY thinking about it, then you undoubtedly have a mental illness, such as clinical depression.

No shit, Sherlock. I’ve been convinced that I am severely depressed for ages. I’ve completed something like a million online quizzes and mental health tests. All of them reached that same conclusion. It’s pretty easy to figure out that I’m not happy. After all, I am sitting here and planning my own demise.

The article went on.

So, that is NOT you talking about the “note,” it is the illness talking. And don’t listen to its bullshit. A serious mental illness, like a serious illness of any kind, is potentially stronger than any of us. So you need HELP. And reaching out for help does NOT mean that you are weak, it means that you are smart. VERY smart. Period.

This is bullshit. Who am I supposed to reach out to, exactly? My parents are out of the question – they would get hysterical. I’ve skimmed enough articles on the subject online to know all the things any teacher or counselor would say. I don’t trust them to help me. If I go to an “authority figure” they’ll just label me as crazy, put me under suicide watch and feed me Prozac or something. Anyway, I don’t need help from anyone.. It doesn’t matter whether this is a disease or not, the only solution is death.

The words “solution” and “death” join together like search keywords and pull stuff up from the recesses of my mind:“Death is not a solution, it’s an escape”;“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”; blah, blah, blah.

Aiming to push away these thoughts, I click on a different link. The title of the piece is “How to Write a Suicide Letter”. I skim the beginning, and find myself drawn in, reading with attention.

You feel that you simply can no longer cope with the immense pain of this world, and you want to escape this reality, so you’re going to commit suicide. But first you will write a letter. In this letter you will explain that no one is to blame for this situation, because you don’t want anyone who knows or loves you to blame himself, and then you’ll commit the act of suicide in the cleanest possible way to minimize bother for other people.

I barely even considered cutting my wrists. It would take forever to clean the bathroom of all the blood. Just over a year ago, I filled my backpack with rocks and was going to jump into the river. At the last minute, I thought about all the people whose time and efforts would be expended, dragging the river for my body. I put the rocks back where I found them and started collecting pills.

I glance at my capsule covered pillow for a moment, then turn my eyes back to the screen and continue reading.

You were always so wonderful. Thoughtful. Minimizing yourself in family pictures so as not to take up too much space. Taking care of everything. Refusing to even leave a mess after you and choosing the location and method that should cause the least trouble to those you leave behind. Refusing, up to the last, to be a disappointment.

Disappointing people is the thing I hate most. Maybe that’s why I Google everything. When people ask me something, they expect an answer. If I don’t know it, I can’t disappoint them. I have to try and find out.

After I kill myself, people will ask why I did it. I have to give them an answer. Even if I don’t share my reasons with strangers like you, I have to explain them to the people who know me.

No matter how well you explain, they won’t understand. You can read the letter and know it is finished and right but you didn’t just lose a loved one. They won’t read it the same way.

I didn’t think about that.

Well, so what? So lets say I disappoint everybody for once. They’ll live!

Those who lose a loved one to suicide have dramatically higher chances of killing themselves. Those whom you are trying so hard to save trouble; you could kill one or more of them with your explanation.


The only real disappointment you will cause will be as a result of this act. This act, the first truly selfish thing you do for yourself and no one else; the final twisted outcome of your stifled desire to be yourself, to be happy. It can’t bring happiness or peace. So you can write your letter. It won’t work. It just won’t convey your message.


You don’t have to decide tonight. You can just as easily decide to write it again tomorrow morning. No matter the reason for writing it, you must agree there is no hurry to finish it.


I wanted tips on writing a suicide letter. Instead, I was suckered into reading arguments convincing me not to commit suicide at all. None of the similar articles I skimmed in the past spoke to me. Tonight, these ones did. Maybe it’s because I didn’t just skim, I really read them.

It doesn’t actually matter why these were the ones to break through my lust for death. What’s important is the fact that they did. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to hurt and disappoint the people around me. And I most of all, I don’t want to be a contributing cause of another suicide. Suddenly, I don’t want to kill myself anymore.

Nothing in the articles made the reasons I wanted to die in the first place go away, though. I still don’t want to go on living. Not the way I have been till now. Something has to change.

I flush all the pills down the toilet. I delete all of today’s history and close my browser without saving the session. I have hit rock bottom and survived. Now I begin the journey upwards.

I double click the desktop icon to open a new browser. My homepage appears, comforting in its familiarity. My homepage is Google, naturally. I type in a phrase and hit the enter key, ready to enter a new phase in my life.

Which words do I Google now? I’m sure you can guess, but since you asked, I know you expect an answer. I can’t disappoint.

The query I type into Google is: “How to change my life”.

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From his Deathbed

by Thomas March

It’s over—weary with the weight
of all imaginary sins—
the leaning, closing crowd has wrapped
in turn with burning hands around—
my own—final constellation—
dark stars against the warm, awaiting light.

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Sonnet in Trimeter

by Thomas March

The morning I left town,
I saw it on the tracks—
the bottle we drank down,
to ease us on our backs.

If it no longer stood,
I’d let our goodbye stand.
But you made sure it would.
You steadied it with sand.

I could have let it pass—
considered it a sweet
coincidence in glass
and gravel from the street—

no more than I could stay—
the weight of waking day.

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Shady Lady

by Netta Granit

On a magical night starry and bright

Beauty dexterously steps on strands of pure light

In a silky smooth flight

Treading softly the brown muddy ground

Releasing tremulous fragments of the slight

Figurines melting into a scented air of delight

Stepping in and out of the harmonious bright

Shadows and shades turning into rays

Of diamonds and emeralds and sad lonely lays

Of mermaids in shreds of some silky smooth hay

Rolling in the dust

Releasing their crust

Evolving into the free and awesome night

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First Suicide in Heaven

by Paul Fox

I was told that Heaven would be anything that my heart desired. A thought, a place or a memory from which I derived a true satisfaction in life.

For me that is a crystalline sandy beach, at that precise time of the day, where the fiery sun is just waking over the remote horizon and the moon hangs as a phantom of the night in the placid cherry sky.

The early morning mist, breaking overhead, as a flimsy cobweb in the invigorating dawn breeze, the kind that wakes humanity with a tender kiss upon the cheek.

I sit pushing my hands into the grainy sand about me, cold to the fingertips and moist beneath its dusty veneer, feeling the resistance of a billion years of life caress my palms.

I sit alone hearing only the untamed waves roll against the shore and the soft breeze in my ears. Timeless splendor and countless daybreak’s, to just immerse myself in a definitive freedom and meditate upon the vastness of life, except after life.

This is what I wished Heaven would be when I died, if only I’d known it was a literal situation. An undying suspension in a single thought, a single place, this ungodly memory.

Days became infinity and the sun rose and fell like a cosmic yo-yo, beauty became the most wearisome of mundane and lonesomeness (albeit my own choosing) became my own private Hell.

The vicissitudes of an endless moment had manifested in me, a state of too happy happiness and had led to a depression of unmatchable proportions. I cried for millennia,

screamed voicelessly for an eon more. My selfishness in death had made the water of my life poisonous and as I drank deeply from my lonesome chalice, I could feel in me a second death. A fatality of such sorrow, that tears crashed upon my face like the surf slapped the sand.

It was in but a millisecond of the universe that I had stood from my divine destiny, shook away the golden sand and walked toward the halcyon sea that called me forth.

The kind wind that had gracefully washed my face, whipped at the tear stained flesh of my corpse. The tide grew dispassionate and fierce, wave upon wave crashing and roaring with all the ferocity of history.

I strode with the determination and energy of a mission led man, watching as the footprints following me became dark chasms of hurt and neglect. The aquamarine breakers spitting shards of watery beryl beads developed a frothy rabid smile and the sun grew cheerless, passing from luminous ochre, through a muddy umber, before dipping behind the far off distance as an enraged hueless ball of fury and contempt.

Darkness enveloped the heavens that day, as I paced purposely toward my salty grave. I cried out for love and hope but found none, the heavens had ignobly given up my cause and I waded out, into the shadowy abyss.

The shore behind me crumbled away and fell into the cavernous tread marks of my scandal and I ploughed onward to my momentary demise. My lungs filled with a venomous saline sea and all the waters of memory coursed through my fibrous body. I had died for the second time. All was black, all was gone and like Adam and Eve of old, I had turned my back on Paradise.

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Ferris Wheel

by Colleen Eren

He gestures for me to enter quickly . A cigarette between two fingers, his arms are a dark green jungle of tattooing. A few whistles from those in line behind me ends my hesitation. I slide into the ferris wheel car with its half-blinking bulbs and rusted bar and feel a pinch. Torn vinyl seating scratches my legs. He jams the bar down across my lap and I wonder how long he has been working these cheap nighttime festivals with funnel cakes and ring-tosses and drunk teenagers. His face is hard and wrinkled, the thinning hair pulled back in a rubberband.

The car jerks forward and up in a swoop. A cacophony of grinding wheels, as the obstreperous voices in the cars above grow louder. “Holy shit!” Popcorn falls between the metal beams to the cement below.

I am the only one alone, and with a delicious sense of artistic solitude I seek the deepening blue skies above the neon lights of the carousel tent, seek the delicate marine wind above the fulsome waves of fried sausage burnt sugar hotdogs and popcorn. Another lurch forward and up. And another. And up…

Suspended on top, I swing, and have lost the sound of the others. Beyond my vision, the sea is there, exhaling salt and the promise of the unknowable. A dull white noise is all that remains of the crowd below. I resist looking over the side, having consigned my life to the man with the tattoos.

His cigarette’s done

next one tucked above his ear

I get in line again

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Mechanical Sharks

by Ron Alfano

They have invaded the land

in their vastly growing,

ever changing numbers.

They have changed their shapes

–some too drastically—

so that you can’t call all of them

these types of creatures, that have

made their way onto land, but in a

more highly sophisticated form.

But I know their true embodiment.

They deceive other, unknowing eyes,

but not mine.


I watch them as they make their way

over the land’s bumps and hills,

willfully obeying the established laws

of the land’s territory.

Even at night they play it

cool and slick.

Moving along on their

grooved, black discs; their eyes

shining to light up

the darkness around them.

Once they’re in their living state

of motion around us,

they know how to breathe well

from the air passages on their sides.

The land’s air they roam through

goes in and out of their system in this way.

Yes, these creatures have had

their shapes modified well

for living among us.

Low to the ground—

sleek, slick and so maneuverable.

these creatures, in their most

perfect form are controlled by

a master who knows how to have

the best one of them.

To match his sleek creature, if possible,

he’ll garb himself in sleek, black coating,

sport reflective eyes, and hold onto

the round leash

that tames and steers this creature.

Yes, this creature and its master

work together, in unison, beautifully.

For it know where its master’s path goes,

just by his simple

left or right turn on the leash.

The creature mechanically obeys, and even

smiles, constantly, through its

permanent grillwork of shiny teeth.

This make me wonder why

these mechanical sharks still

haven’t been recognized by their

automotive shape.

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