Modern Dante

1 min
Image of Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
I wandered ‘cross a glassy field of ice,
The lowest ring of Satan’s dreary realm.
Here, at the bottom of Inferno’s pit,
The treacherous and those who have betrayed
Their friends or kin or humankind are found.
Lodged waist-deep in the center of the ice
Is Lucifer, most treacherous of all.

Far from the grasp of Satan, near the edge
Of this expanse of ice, I found a man
Whose sin had not condemned him to the roars
Of Satan, but had still confined him there
Waist-deep in ice as well, and near an odd
But working microwave. I walked to him,
And asked him who he was.

“You there, good sir,”
I queried, “What deed brought this awful fate?”
He turned his forlorn face t’ward me and spoke:
“I am the man who, heinous as it is,
First placed the button labeled ‘popcorn’ on
Contraptions like the one that you see here.

“I knew full well that it would never work.
I lied to all who use a microwave
In promising a perfect cooking time
For popping buttered kernels when, in truth,
This button causes either acrid smoke
By burning all the kernels freshly popped
Or, alternately, won’t cook them at all.

“And so, my punishment well-warranted
Is that I’ll spend eternity fixed in
The ice, right next to this here microwave
Which has, as you can see, one button on
Its face. It’s labeled ‘popcorn,’ and it burns
Or undercooks whatever I put in’t.

“It will not open for me ‘till my nose
Fills with the pungent stench of kernels burned
To ashy gray, my only sustenance.
On these I feast, unless I deem instead
To swallow kernels whole while they’re still cold.”

Hearing his words, I then lamented, “Sir,
Yours is an awful fate indeed!” I left,
And, wand’ring on, thought on how fittingly
His fate had left him there. And for
A moment, not much longer, I’ll admit,
His story left me tempted to lament.

But then the thought of countless movie nights
And hunger striking during winter’s cold
And disappointments due to this man’s deed
Left any sympathy within me dim.
So, thinking on his well-earned fate, I smirked,
Then o’er the icy field I sauntered on.

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