(not quite) a literary journal


A Circle of Hell + Another Circle of Hell, by DM Rice

A Circle of Hell

There was no
-where else to go so
the spot-
light suited
at the front
of the room
those bodies
still being
tossed against
by harpies
with fiery
the spines of
those children
were sliced open
with the entrails
staining the
harpies' lips
the lesson
was over
, though I
can't remember
what wisdom
I shared
my mouth never
stopped moving
though maybe
there were no
words that
anyway, none
of the kids
interrupted me
, they just sat
with blank
faces hiding
their fear
because they
knew the
demons were
always watching
a single file
down the hall
past gray lockers
without locks
I followed the
children, always a
few paces
           there were no
           demons in sight
but it was
still my first
day so they
thought they'd
have some fun
and let me
follow the
children down
the cavern
with its
hanging stalactites
and lava
lamp red glo-
   that was just
   a front because
   after a few
   steps into the
we fell and
everything went
black though
I could still
hear children
running for
safety and
being devoured
so I ran
forward to a
fork in the
path on the
right was
darkness on
the left
light and
I walked
to the light
and from
crag a giant
, wearing a
brown sleeve-
less wool dress
with a black
belt, began
chasing me very
the giant had
a baby's head
with a blank
and didn't seem
very hungry
or, rather,
seemed more
interested in scar-
ing me than eat-
ing me
the lighted path
led outside of
the school and
I managed to
make it to the
street and close
the chain link
fence on the
giant who
quickly accepted
my escape
and returned
to its
in the
moments that
followed I
scanned the
quiet streets
littered with
carcasses but
devoid of
life and
knew with
the full force

of a well
-told rumor
that I could
walk down
the paved
road away
from the school
forever and I
would not
meet another
soul for many

until the road
became desert
and the
soul that
I might
meet would look
just like me
but I
n't rec-

ognize them. 

Another Circle of Hell

I was back in hell.

Along the beach the red
sky billowed with gray

A few stray lightning bolts
flashed above.

Of course, there you were
, in the distance; there is none
  other, still.

As I walked down the way
condemned souls began
having their way
toward me with
dark intent.

I brandished my fountain pen
and plunged it into their jugular

I felt no remorse or pity
as I did this.

The night before I had
perfected my technique.

They went down easily
and without a sound.

I moved through the crowd
where you had been, but were
no longer.

A flash of lightning rang forth
over the cliffs descending upon
my sweeping footsteps onward.

There I made my way along
a narrow mine shaft where 
the light hung from strings 
like in an interrogation

I saw my great uncle, Severo
, the widower, disappear
  along a limestone

I peered ahead at my grandmother, Olivia
kneeling over a lifeless corpse.

She may have been eating him, though
I don't remember any blood staining her

My silver fountain pen shone
in my hand, though I moved
along without wielding it 
against her.

Down the way the walls were concrete
, and I plunged my pen in the necks 
  of the condemned as I moved forward
, searching for you.

And I walked down
into the basement
without hesitation.

There a group of three 
surrounded to consume

There was one more on the rusted concrete floor
, with braided hair and beautiful ebony skin 
  that glistened under the conical lamp
  swinging overhead.

Was it you?

I feared her in her victimhood
, not knowing if it was some 
  duplicity on the part of 
  the architects of this
  torturous place or
  if it was you there
, struggling in blood
  along the soil of your
  ravaged form.

Before I ever learned
, I awoke.

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