Let’s not posture!
Says the Legate as I wend
From elbow in the Styx
To elbow. I would seem
To be nowhere bound,
That hell’s too-triumphed
River runs in circles
And at points, to feed
Its folly, crooks its neck
While father reaper laughs
And all the pause of current
Is the netherworld’s play.
He stiffly taps the rear of
Our spittoon, goading it,
As though it breaks from time
To time, and needs a prodding
For the mechanism to begin.
I half-curl up in chuckles—
Sad witness to the belly of the
Dark, I know, but what of
Satan isn’t broken, I thought,
And that deserves a laugh.
He thought stoics best, I’m
Mostly sure, and took to glaring
At me from the cavern of his
Drooping mantle. I hushed
Myself, berating such revelry
As laughter must, in darkness,
Be, and imagined what great
Distress the lady Bingen must
Have foisted on herself, and her
Undue sexual eroticisms, writhing
From a fecund God in bed and
Revelations muster for posterity.
So I beat myself repeatedly in
The groin—Satan should be pleased
I was half-pleased myself to think. Though
Just as I was sure the penance
Made Master Death awash with
Blackened grins, our gondola
Started to again, and forth we went
From elbow, to the knuckle,
Beneath stalactites and their
Dripping scum, the rock, self-
Effacing and the steam a mockery
Of human’s painting of the deep.
And on forever, I think it is, that
Hell must be this winding riverbed
Which has no levels, nor destination,
But most disappointingly, is empty.
I think it not impossible, as I settle
Into thinking at the prow of demons’
Modest skiff, that Satan is a man
Who bears a reaper oddly, skeletal
Though he is, and doomsaying as
He must; he is a creator-being much
The same as I, though less in love
With black I am. Such a sad creation wants
Company, no more; conversation
From a babbling brook (that often
Fades into a whisper) cannot present
Our Satan much reward for living.
Yet he smiles at me now, bends his fingers
To a wretched curl, and wheezes.
I think he likes me here.