IN HELL

“In hell, nothing you have done will not be watched.” From Household Gods by Anne Stevenson.

In hell, your every indiscretion
will be picked over endlessly
on freeze frame repeat
and your life will be condensed
into daily half hour slots of pain.
In hell you will live forever
and learn how to attract flies.

In hell, each blinkered and unworthy thought
each curse, each brief display of hate
will be broadcast at high volume
to anyone who cares to listen
with running commentary from smug demons
who’ll pull at their sharp suits
and smile inscrutably, while you scream
into your pillow of thorns,
as they edit out your achievements
to please the crowd.

In hell you will dress to kill or be killed
and in the evenings go out to the hot spots
with a host of others,
all of you hoping to be saved.
You will be cut to pieces
by paper knives each morning
and will have to stitch yourself together
in time for interviews,
in which your gut-wrenching past
will be dragged out and given
new, unpleasant meaning.

In hell you will be a celebrity
amongst thousands of celebrities
all of you famous for nothing more
than an unending scream.
You will long for the still,
silent heaven whose gate you missed
on the way down,
lost in an unending conversation about yourself.