Friday, October 19, 2007

200 : 10/27/98 : Interlude in Hell, A Minor (Canto 22)

We were hustling down a path, and not far behind us
The hell patrol were fishing out their fellows
To my surprise my poet guide said let’s stop and discuss

The shape of the bellows
that stoke the great fire
And the characteristic reds and yellows

Of the clay that line the sullen mire
And several other things of similar import
While our former guardians back there reacquire

Their fallen comrades from their hapless port
Give them a chance to get back on our trail
Just some facts and figures to fill out your report

When you return from this travail
up to the lands above
Where you must carry on the search for your grail

I said man you’re crazy, those fiends are gonna throw down the glove
when they see the way we’ve slipped away
I know we’re on divine duty sheltered by divine love

That doesn’t mean we should invite foul play
At the hands of that slimy mob
Let’s live to chat hell another day

And anyway why this sudden urge to natter and nob
We’ve had plenty of better chances
than here pinned between those who steal and those who rob

He said to put it plain your tale advances
too quickly from its guided track
You’ve gotten ahead of yourself, you’re missing subtle nuances

So I have to stop and hold this tack
Of pointless exposition for a little more
consider it an interlude in hell, a minor setback

And anyway you could use a breather before
You get along to the final pit
There’s lots of evil and nastiness in store

Ahead so for now let’s make the best of it
We’ve a few moments to linger, and talk while we sit.

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

199 : 10/26/98 : Tarpits (Canto 21)

Down the next slope we came to another plain
Much like the first but not with open graves
But rather boiling tar ran in the lanes

Chiseled into the rocks as an artist engraves
a stone for the printing press
My guide said watch that you behave

Yourself follow my word and do not second guess
me the devils that work the tarpit are a wily crew
As is fitting here where the yes is no, and the no is yes

And seeing some approach said do not let them see you
hide yourself behind the rocks and watch
I’ll signal you when it’s safe and don’t come out until I do

As he approached them I watched through a notch
in the stones I hid behind
The leader sneered and grabbed his crotch

That perverse and grotesque lot still chill my mind
their plastic heads and three piece suits
They carried briefcases and gnawed on skulls like rinds

Of pomegranate, tearing at the deep red fruits
There seemed to arise an altercation
But my protector stood firmly in his boots

And when it seemed he had the situation
in hand, he motioned me to join
The leader said imagine my elation

To hear a mortal had girded up his loins
And made the crossing to our bitter land
Where all the varied malefactors pay their dues in all their varied coins

So honored guest take me by the hand
We’ll take you on a tour of the tarpits
We’ll make a jolly band

My guide whispered aside to me its best we keep our wits
about us, this twisty lot’s not to be trusted
This snake oil slick routine’s an act, it’s

A safe bet that we’ll soon be disgusted
by the nature that all fiends share
The tarpits are where grafters and extortioners get busted

The demon leader declaimed with a tour guide air
The sticky fingered lot, ha ha they’re hiding now
But I think one’s peeking up over there

Then he barked out hey let’s show ‘em how
we do things here boys and in a flash
his minions, with a satirical bow

To my guide and I, made a dash
for the soul the demon foreman pointed out
And no sooner had him out but put him to the lash

The poet said well can we have a word with the poor lout
Your boys are beating into paste
Let’s find out what he’s all about

Although that sorry inmate’s face was a tarred and bloody waste
I thought maybe I’d seen him on the television
And seeming to sense that I had placed

Him, he said if you’re gonna feature me in your revision
Of a better story by a better scholar than you are
His voice dropped to a whisper he said well that’s your decision

But I tell you a’lurking back in the tar,
A sorry lot of stellar congressmen
Lawyers, bankers, and accountants are

Waiting for my signal to come out in the open
Fade back and I’ll whistle up the whole brigade
And you can the bipartisan session then

And leave me out of the whole charade
One of the pack piped up and said it’s sure a shame
It’s been so long since we had an all out raid

So let’s hang back and let Mr. Doesn’t-Want-His-Name
In the papers up topside set his trap
And scare us up a fine flock of game

To give a good taste of the strap
And with that word they faded back
And the erstwhile prisoner they left there in the gap

Jumped up with out warning and leaped into the crack
of bubbling pitch he’d been pulled from
Only a heartbeat passed and two hellspawn launched an attack

screaming catch that dirty cheating bum
I couldn’t help but whisper in Eliot’s ear
That our guides here were awfully dumb

to trust the sort of criminals who wind up here
He just shrugged and said call it a vice
Just then one of the demons gave a shout of fear

He’d ventured too far into the tar and paid the price
And in his struggle pulled his partner in as well
Who bellowing in rage, was carving a slice

out of the first demon who fell
Into the trap they’d sought to set
And T.S. rolled his eyes and said another day in hell

But say he continued while the rest try to get
their fellows out of the tar
for a moment they’re sure to forget

To keep an eye on where you and I are
And things as they’re going it might be wise
To make ourselves scarce and make sure we’re far

away by the time they realize
That we’re as good for sport as anyone
And try to take us by surprise

You’ve seen what they are and what they’ve done
So we’d best take this chance to run

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Monday, October 08, 2007

198 : 10/25/98 : Unfortunate (Canto 20)

890 ?

“Wow” I said “T.S. that’s really unfortunate
The way these cats are twisted up is very cruel”
Stumbling slowly round a massive course circular and flat

Heads between their legs like some contortionist fool
Their tears leaking back into their ears
“These are those unfortunates who sought to use the arcane tool

Of the future to seek fortune through their years
Those who twist the spirit to gain
Will always wind up in hell’s gears”

I said “this seems excessive for fortune tellers’ lane”
He said “you’re not seeing the whole show
All seek the future but the difference is plain

Of those who seek the path they go
And those who seek fortune in the paths of others
Too many are led astray by what they claim to know

The future is denied the sisters and brothers
of the fall: we should not seek to co-opt what we lost
Nor should we contribute to another’s

confusion in facing roads not yet crossed
We should seek to live in our own time
We should seek only our own costs

And he said finish up your twentieth rhyme
And let’s get on with the ever descending climb

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Monday, October 01, 2007

197 : 10/24/98 : Mockers (Canto 19)

884 ?

We dropped another ledge down
I was sullen, silent from my guide’s rebukes
And the poet kept his council his face drawn in a frown

But as we approached a strange scene he said “there are no flukes
here, my son, but understanding
is hard, but even so these miserable pukes

May improve your confidence in the divine commanding
of hell’s bleak punishments”
Ranged out around the circle where we were standing

A multitude in sour and soiled vestments
were stuffed up to their shoulders in television sets
That sparked and crackled as if they received some signal sent

Down into this pit And my guide said “I bet
that especially jerky clown over yonder
Will give you a lesson you won’t forget

And some fine points to ponder
and a much needed chance to vent your spleen
And curb your tendency to maunder

over the cursed and unclean
Well these are some who may indeed deserve their fate
These are the very same you’ve seen

in every age they pass the plate
more often than they praise God’s name
their eyes ablaze with greed and hate

they take it all and play a game
of guilt and lies and threats of damnation
Here their ironic fates are all the same

So I bent down and fiddled the knobs as if to change the station
And a voice called “Jimmy is that you you hound
Finally come the final mockery of my ironic situation”

and I replied “well stuck in your tube you mistake the sound
of my voice for your fellow confidence man”
And he replied “so why have you come around”

And I said “Mocker I came to tell you what a huge fan
I am of the charlatans like you
who prosper in your sordid little clan

By the lies that you tell and the evil you do
perverting the truth to line your pocket
How many have been deceived and led astray by you few

Mockers yeah you talked a lot but could not walk it
And I must confess watching you squirm gives me a thrill
It’s good to see you firmly screwed into the socket”

And my man gave me a fine big hug but said “we have no time to kill
We gotta get on down to the next hill”

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here