(With a nod and a deep apology to Dante Alighieri, b.1265 d.1321)
wrote his Divine Comedy more than 500 years ago. In the Inferno,
part one of the three part allegorical poem, Dante described how
while walking through the woods he became lost. Confronted by two
wild beasts, Dante began to run. He ran deeper into the swamp and
became hopeless and confused. In the depth of despair, the shade
of the deceased Roman poet Virgil appears and leads him out of the
swamp by taking Dante on a journey through Hell. Dante created an
underworld with different levels of punishment. He populated the
descending rings of the Inferno with people from Dante's own
society: the villains and wrongdoers of early Fourteenth Century
Italy. Dante placed them in their appropriate circles of Hell,
each subject to the personalized punishment suited to their vices.
At the center of Hades, Dante put the most evil people eternally
devoured and re-devoured by Satan. Were Dante alive in the
Twenty-First Century, might this be the Inferno he would have
More than two hundred years into the history of this land
How I had gotten here, I do not know,
I stopped to rest, to think upon an exit plan
I turned to run, but there, too, stood another one
But as I ran and stumbled through the muck running to save my life,
I cried out, “Save me,
He said, “I am, or was, your leader once,
“Then tell me, Abe, you see our peril,
Abe said, “there is another way that you must travel
“And so,” he said, “You should now follow me
Of hopeless men, and C.E.O.s,
I said, “I am afraid to walk through Hell,
He led, I followed, we walked for miles
ABANDON ALL HOPE ALL WHO ENTER HERE
I saw these words flash through the mist
I heard at once the sighs and moans and wailing in the air.
“Who are these spirits, President Abe?,” I asked my guide and mentor.
These are the ones who did not think
Half-man, half-sheep, and half asleep,
But as we passed, I saw the shades of folk I knew,
Sharon, boatman of Hell, rowed us 'cross the sulfurous stream
There was Ken Lay and Frank Quattrone and here the GAP stores' C.E.O.
There were the off-shore toy makers, and Nike's Knight
These men who lived like Kings could own their yachts and summer homes,
But here, in Hell, the table's turned, and here the Kings would groan.
I stopped in awe, but Honest Abe
It was so cold inside this ring, it made my fillings tingle,
Yet deep inside the glacier pack I peered, and what a shock I had!
And there, as well, like Popsicles, were all the neo-liberal fools
Their tongues were blue, their blood was cold, their brains too neo-conned to function,
“Let us move on,” said Honest Abe,
We stumbled out of frozen waste and entered yet another ring
I saw there shades of powerful men, all suffering tortures made for them,
Ms. Jackson, with her chest revealed, from Howard Stern, his foul mouth blared.
And there! There were the New York Times and CNN reporters,
The screams and smells were almost worse than any man could stand,
“Abe Lincoln, say, was it this bad when we had civil war?”
“All war is Hell,” Abe Lincoln said, “It was bad then;
“Let's now move on,” Abe Lincoln said,
We walked for miles, or so it seemed,
It was that part of Hades where lost souls were packed like lice.
Here dwelt the Engineers of Money,
Here also dwelt the court advisers, counselors, courtiers, and the others;
Condi Rice and Chalabi, Richard Helms and Karl Rove, too;
But Abe and I kept walking through until we saw another stew
They were the motley talk show fools,
But still Old Abe bid me to walk, we had further to go.
And so we plowed
on through the fog into a hotter hollow.
The stench was strong, the smoke was thick, I could not see one step before the other;
There ran a dog like Tony Blair, and one like Berlusconi,
There ran Musharraf on a leash, and Fox, too, had his tether,
They barked and yelped and tried to speak but made no human sounds,
I almost stopped to pet their heads, but didn't when I heard
So left we did, my guide and me, and trekked into the heat
The ground was hard and strewn all 'round with shards of broken glass
This was, Abe said, the home in Hell of those who in their former lives
Turned into mothers on welfare:
There also I saw Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer and Don Rumsfeld,
There also I saw Wall Street men, stock analysts and bankers;
The privatizers were there, too, who thought it was their right to loot
Now, all of them, lived in a slum, while acid rain
Abe Lincoln told me “Let's Move On,
We entered now the core of Hell,
They were all bound together in a single lump of flesh,
Their bodies joined forevermore, blasting each others' fraud;
The hottest bowels of Hell held here Osama, Bush and Cheney.
With blood and hate they sowed the earth, made so many downtrodden;
So now, I'd seen the world of shades and all the pain within it,
He said, “There's one way out; look past this ugly doom.
He pointed past the smoke-filled room: there was a tiny door.
I put my hand upon the knob, but I was scared – what might be there
Abe urged, “Go on!
Admonished so, by Honest Abe, I grabbed and turned the door knob,
And fifty stars flashed through the air, each comet representing
A comet blazed for fair trade rules that trump the colonizers,
A blazing star to end disease, a star to end world hunger,
My eyes were blinded by the light this other side of Hell,
Zbignew Zingh can be reached at Zbig@ersarts.com. This Article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at www.ersarts.com.
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