A Worm of One’s Own

Brad Baumgartner


Carelessly, a man sat on a stoop in the corridor of his own misgivings. There was no shelter there, and it was an ignominious stain on his “hierarchy of needs.” For what seemed like aeons, a worm painstakingly crawled its way up to the stoop. It said to the man: “You need to reverse this thing you call yourself.” The man cringed and wriggled.

After nine minutes, he sat up and proceeded to walk out into the desert of thought.

After seven years, the man came back. He glowingly hovered above the stoop in the corridor. The worm returned, staring in amazement. The man thanked the worm for its teachings. Then, he reached into his belly button and pulled out the universe. Twenty-one galaxies, the Baoding balls of his existence, floated in his hands. He said to the worm: “I once sat on this stoop as a derelict of the divine. You, worm, are a saint.”

He then put both hands into his belly button, pulling his flesh wide away from the cosmic opening of himself to reveal his sacrum to the worm. The worm entered this sacral dimensional space, an immense pyramid wherein inside the world is and outside houses the tomb of the man’s former life. The point of the pyramid points inwards and sits on the point of itself, sucking itself out of itself like the look of the sound of an octahedral bee buzzing about its own hivemind. “What was once an ignominious stain on his hierarchy of needs is now a sacral pathway into pyramidic self-evisceration,” thought the worm.

At the top of this triangular apex of the inner world sits failure; this is the accord of all who have been born into the world. It will remain. And at the bottom of this apex is self-actualization. It is reserved for those who have walked out of the into, and into the out of, that is, have reversed failure vis-à-vis being absolutely squeezed by it. Diamonded, failure’s reversal is actualized by pulling itself through itself. The worm sat, awe-struck, as stars twinkled. “You can stay if you want,” said the man to the worm. The worm acquiesced, and the man closed back up his body. He walks among us, worm inside, as a living token of the Eternal.



Brad Baumgartner is a writer and Assistant Teaching Professor of English at Penn State University. His digital chapbook, Quantum Mechantics: Memoirs of a Quark, is forthcoming from The Operating System (2019).