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2022 Pi Day Contest First Prize

Brighter Than a Thousand Suns

by Mark Alberto McKnight


A burn.

A white explosive so bright; white sun ivory eyesight emptiness, Rothko’s emptiness,

and he saw bleached suns carved in- burned into his eye.

Silently, all in Anatoli Bugorski’s brain.

Researcher in Protvino.

Bugorski woke.

A temperate morning.

A simple breakfast.

Egg scrambled.

Communist ham.

‘Seventy Eight.

A physicist’s labor - Bugorski, he discovered particles’ violent cost: Invisible, zero pain.

Toxic roentgens in his encephalon induced seizures.

A cosmic beam barbecuing dreams.

An ordinary breath.

An unmerciful personal Chernobyl.

Invisible particle debris, so absently weightless, yet near infinite in power.

His mind is a…

A singing starstruck violin playing beautiful melodies in a cage, poisoned, irradiated…


“Soviet Union”, a way to nickname an old loneliness.

Golden heaven king.

Scarlet saccharine secretary man.


Cold fire vodkas gracefully swallowed under faint buttermilk light.

Bugorski at an inn.

A strange… an empty bar.

Smoky cigarette…

Beef stroganoff unwanted…


“I am possible..!” says Bugorski.

“I- I- I- picture blue skies. Wilderness. An eternity with a brilliance!”

He inhales feverishly.

A stillness.

He’s coughing blood in a… a tablecloth.

Again, death comes beckoning.

August will come, surely…

It is beautiful here,

Bugorski concludes, whose mind remembers the brightness.


(196 digits!)

Published: April 15, 2022