Hell is to the North

They say the way is often well-paved and leads
down along the map. But I have wondered, lying listening
to the constant rain, about the benefits of concrete
and steel until it dawns on me.

The say that Mecca is to the east or west,
but when you’re on your knees, the direction is down –
to me, that means the South.

The sins in the cities of time are alloyed
from two parts innocence, one part greed and often,
a helping of guilt for good measure. Opportunity,
they say, canvasses more limited neighborhoods
than he used to. If you ain’t on his route, he won’t
knock.

But I know this – real chances don’t wait; they don’t
stand at the door and look in the windows. They’ll slip
in the kitchen by the screen, ’round midnight, like a thief,
and your wrought iron gates won’t help you none.

And further, when the sun won’t as much as shine
there’s not much chance of seeing the light, you dig?

You can sit here in darkness and cold, if you like,
But maybe you’ll be doing it alone.

I say, “That’s Hell.”

As for me, I shall move down to New Orleans;
and when the wind blows heavy with sweat I shall laugh –
for although rumor and sense might otherwise indicate,
the actual gates of Hell are located
much further North.

1995

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