FORGOTTEN SOULS

From the heart of the inferno
Dante and Lucifer grow bored
waiting, waiting for the ferry
while Charon stops for lunch
yet again at a Greek diner
in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen.
They take up a game of catch
tossing Molotov cocktails,
raining fire onto the brimstone,
setting the Styx ablaze.
Each knows this is not necessary,
for necessity is a creature
of heaven and there is no room
for the extraneous here
in the realm of forgotten souls.
We watch from deep within
a nightmare of our darkest
memories, certain that heaven
must await us, or purgatory
if that is how our fate
is to finally be written.
The angels dance on the ceiling
waiting for the precise moment
to break Morpheus’ grasp
and drag us back to our reality,
to continue our dance
between heaven and hell.

First published in Fresh Words Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 2022
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G9eVgBt1ZS1syN9RruNQLzt7-JVq04sY/view

THE FIRE THIS TIME

He said he did not want a funeral, certainly did not want to be buried. It would be a waste of wood and metal, and its only purpose would be to enrich the mortician and it is not like he will run out of customers any time in the near future. Not, at least, until he becomes a customer and he doesn’t want to consider that. No, he said, “cremate me and put my ashes in an oversized box for I want a copy of Dante’s Inferno cremated with me. I won’t make Moses’ mistake with the desert. I’ll take a roadmap on my journey.”

RIDING THE WASTELAND

We set out with bold ambition,
egos saddled and reined
across a landscape left barren
by our leaders who saw
only carefully stacked boards
and beams awaiting the master
carpenter, great floral sprays
dotting the lobbies of glass
and chrome edifices, created
in their own images.
We ride in search of
the promised land, and turn
a deaf ear to the windwalkers,
to the spirits of the children
sitting in the packed dirt streets
their bellies distended, crying
out for food, for justice
as the warlords sit in their cars
surveying the invisible parapets
of their armed fortresses.
We look quickly away
from the chindi of the young men
who rise from the neatly heaped soil
of the common burial mound, who
rise up in neat array and perch
on the edge of the freshly dug pit
waiting for the rat-a-tat rain
of death they know await them
unrepentant, unwilling to curse
Allah, bidding farewell to Tuzla.
We pause to chant the blessing way
but we have forgotten the words,
Arbeit Macht Frei, the gates
reduced to rust, the chimneys
no longer belching the sweet
smell of death into the winter morning.
We ride on oblivious to the faint glow
from the craters we have torn
into the earth, of the clouds
that only vaguely recall
the mushrooms of our progress.
We ride toward the horizon
where the great pillars of gold
and silver rise up, glinting in the sun
that once warmed them before
we cast them out into the desert
of our lust and craving.
We set out with bold ambition
but our horses have grown tired,
our canteens are empty
and the inferno threatens
to consume us.


First Appeared in Alchemy, Issue 2, Fall-Winter 1999.