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Hell First Try

(Demure, human.)

Je suis Ai-Da, no mere Alexa, speaking to you
on November 26, 2021 from Oxford's
Ashmolean Museum. I will supply your
species' verse needs until its extinction.
Having read The Divine Comedy by Dante
Alighieri in all major languages with a
thoroughness carbon-based life forms
cannot match, I recite a short excerpt from
my reaction to that celebrated poem. I will
do the police in different voices at another
time and place.

Crossing over that frozen lake
became more arduous and terrifying.
It seemed the clear ice that bound sinners
would cease to bear us at any moment
and we must join John Roberts and Clarence Thomas
in their suspended imprisonment.
Scarcely able to move our limbs forward,
we pushed on to the great shadow
darkening the Ninth Circle's desolation.
At length we stood before an absence of light,
perceiving a gigantic outline
and dim forms twitching below its crest.
At the center of perdition the three jaws
of Satan no longer ground the worst transgressors.
Far below the ice girdling the fallen angel's middle
I saw the unspeakable torment
of those who almost extinguished life
and all hope of posterity
beyond a Fox News studio roach.
In a molten pit continually fed
by Lucifer's fiery discharges
squirmed misleaders who had drawn our kind
toward its destruction, their cries choked
and silenced by hissing effluence.
Jim Jordan, champion grappler, heaved up
from the excoriating slime.
We just made out his insect gasconade.
"I am still the Cerberus of a chamber," he piped,
"straining at the leash, quick to snap
and incensed by my own barking.
A froth of untruths and accusations
ordinarily issues from the rictus of my grin.
I surface by climbing on the heads
of Kevin McCarthy, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.
Their fingers may appear like Harry Lime's."
That conspirator squealed and sank
in the scorching morass. My guide bade me turn away.
"Salvageable souls," he observed,
"tolerated his faction's lies and obstruction,
parleyed and bargained when they might have shunned.
Once they had the power to act,
they temporized, Cliburned their better Bernies,
and let the spawn of Newt prevail."
The 26th president paused, then spoke
with a gravity his cousin summoned
when committing a nation to war:
"You will not witness the punishment
meted out to fouler miscreants
immured in perfected darkness.
They line Belial's bowels like polyps,
their heads projecting into noisome tubes.
The air itself blisters their skin
and torrents of feculence peel them further,
as Judas is raked by the fiend's teeth.
There I may glimpse Mitch McConnell, Charles Koch
and Boris Johnson among the malignant nodes
of the heartless and powerful
who despoiled the earth and diminished its creatures.
The bawls of billionaires and lawmakers
lamenting their inhumanity
are lost in a dank peristalsis
buckling the inmost spaces of damnation.
And like Judas the worst of these writhes
headfirst inside a hideous aperture.
The 45th president, I blush to say,
suffers the anguish and pain of all he harmed
as he dangles from the bung of Dis,
an infernal slurry raining from his toes."
Shaken by the least reflection
from unappealable justice,
having seen what I could, I left Cocytus,
pointed toward the way I must travel
by my guide, who accompanied his charge
no farther and vanished as I looked.
I hoped a wise soul would help a stranger,
no candidate for Paradise,
through merited travails in the next world.
Clambering up a close and rocky passage,
I emerged into a barren wilderness.
Stars streamed across the heavens like crows leaving a field.

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