The 21st Century Inferno, Part II

For your reading pleasure, Cantos Five through Ten:


CIRCLE TWO                                                                                                        Lustful

Circle two is where I see the first true occupants of the underworld. Whom Dante called the LUSTFUL in his day are those who commit sex crimes in the 21st Century. Upon their demise on earth, these shades of their former selves must do unto themselves what they did unto others in life.

The violent storm ahead was hard to reckon,

            yet I walked on with shaking knees

            as my guide, in his fortitude, did beckon.

Dante had not prepared me for these,

            a line of sinners in life

            now caused me great unease.

In the valley below a shaky stair, rife

            with torn rope and broken ties,

            was a monster with teeth as sharp as a knife.

Minos, his name, he judged and apprised

            the evil-doers with lengthened tail,

            wrapping round as many as nine times.

Each wound equaled the level that would avail

            them infinitely. Despite the cries,

            Minos cast them below as they wailed.

Peering around the beast, I saw the eyes

            of an Austrian with a metal pole

            being shoved between his thighs.

He moaned with others without control

            as it came out through his mouth,

            the impalement rupturing two holes.

Amidst a great tempest, the pole was taken south

            by small demons, a flying bane,

            the sinner reacted, lacking in couth.

With nothing to do but take the pain,

            he surely regretted the ruin

            and incest for which he now was slain.

To the existence not just of women,

            but his own flesh and blood no less.

            The Austrian was one of the worst of men.

Walking forward we saw The Gaffer, a mess.

            Of British renown while alive,

            his cries made it sound like he longed to confess.

Abusing his daughters, thirty years they’d survived.

            He now faced eternity of rape by shaft.

            Unrepentant in life, only now came tears, contrived.

Dante then pointed out the Gympie Man, daft

and known for atrocities against his spawn,

including bestial acts that lapse

over two decades of his children’s lives, gone.

Giving them to friends to use and return,

there was no remorse for the cries of a pawn.

Before we reached the next circle, we turned

to another group of damned who lay

with knives in hand, being made to learn

the laws of below that made them slash away,

removing their genitals as they did,

an invisible force making them pay.

The sins from above, all forbid,

caused this as their final act,

mutilating themselves as they had their women, sordid.

Under the guise of ritual, African to be exact,

they cut off the precious parts of females

to assure infidelity would never transact.

“How fitting,” I whispered as we continued our trail,

suddenly scared for the next story

and what circle three would avail.


CIRCLE THREE                                                                                                   Gluttonous


The GLUTTONS of Dante’s era remained, with the addition of millions more to their lot. With Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog, appeased by food from Dante, we walked among the slush, hail and snow to discover the most recent joiners of the third circle.


Thanking my guide for his memory,

bringing a distraction of a meat ration

to the dog with three heads in all their glory.

I pulled my coat closer, though water seeped in.

Surrounding us two were slobs of great size,

their jowls proof of all their sin.

There was one, however, that stuck out, I apprised,

his slight figure, suit and coat

all wrong for this slavering demise.

“Excuse me, sir,” I asked, clearing my throat,

“What brings you here?

You lack any bloat.”

Raising his head despite squalor severe,

I gasped in recognition.

He once had a white-collar career.

“Between here and several levels I do transition,”

he said, pointing forward to circle four.

“Glutton, hoarder and fraud, a difficult position.

“But in 2008 I was a money-grubbing whore,

and stole billions working on Wall Street.

Millions who trusted me now abhor

“my very name, and shunned me to this seat.

While still alive, my shade has come

to take up residence in hell, incomplete.”

I nodded my head, knowing the story of this scum,

though could not thank the Ponzi schemer,

for the hurt he had caused my nation’s sum.

Sickened by the circle’s nonbreathers,

I motioned for Dante to continue to lead,

to see who else resided here in the ether.

Another life whose soul did proceed

its earthly demise in my own sphere,

sat there with the GLUTTONS, though it did not feed.

“It’s Blago!” I said, noticing his tears.

He was confused for certain

with no idea why he was here.

“A glutton for power,” Dante told me then,

“not to mention capital and cash,

equate with the rest of this pigpen.”

Sorry for the others in this muck and mash,

overeaters and disordered

who couldn’t help the endless rash

of food and junk they constantly ordered

from restaurant and market alike,

turning them into this circle’s boarders.

Nauseated then, I started to hike,

motioning for Dante to steer

as Circle Four I prepared to strike.


CIRCLE FOUR                                                                              Avaricious and Prodigal


As time has passed between Dante’s time and mine, the circle holding the AVARICIOUS and the PRODIGAL has grown and grown. The more society has learned to make, the more miserly some have become, while others’ greed has overtaken their need. Consumerism has become a disease in the Western world and the punishments of the 1300s are not enough in the 21st Century. Those who hoard, inflicting poverty on others in the process, must suffer the filth and disease of their victims in life. The wasters must hack themselves apart, ridding the underworld of their own waste in themselves.


A wailing and screaming filled our ears

long before I saw the inmates

paying for the crimes of their lives’ careers.

Instead the demon Plutus did wait,

aiming to halt our progress;

seeing Dante was enough to sedate

the fiendish guardian of the nasty mess

that was this level of the inferno

we aimed to traverse with success.

White-collar criminals like the glutton in the snow,

executives from high-end corporations

had souls spread out below.

Avarice and prodigality became amputation,

as well as an infinity steeped in decay.

Consumerism was no longer a temptation.

The vital forces of the deceased here lay.

I saw shady executives who had shaved from the top,

depriving others their livelihoods without a say.

Their lack of ethics is a trait I’d never adopt.

“Why aren’t these souls lower?” I asked my guide.

“Destroying lives is wrong and they never did stop!”

He looked at me then and said, “I can’t lie.

But you’ve yet to see the other levels

on this rollercoaster ride.”

I walked forward, still closer to the devil,

curious to see more torture

for these harbingers of evil.

Tearing at themselves in their enclosure,

as they consumed in life,

so did they rip themselves like vultures.

Using each nail like a sharpened knife,

there were incubi I recognized,

some I knew were still living in strife.

“Those two right there,” I verbalized,

“They ruined thousands of jobs.

Enron’s Temple and Duncan! My eyes don’t lie.”

Dante acknowledged the truth of these snobs,

detaching their own arms from their shoulders,

their screams louder than thousands of mobs.

To their right among the mar and molder,

was a Canadian not yet dead,

yet his soul could not be colder.

Ebbers of WorldCom, I recalled as he bled,

the loss of billons to his investors,

his history rang out in my head.

Scratching his skin off, his wounds did fester.

A better punishment I could not think,

than to become his own molester.

While other souls I could not link,

my guide explained why

they were in this hell of decay and stink.

From AIG to thieves of identity,

their eternal fates had been founded

in this level that did not belie.

The truth of their sins forever bounded,

fated for mutation as they cleaved

in circle four, by peers surrounded. 


CIRCLE FIVE                                                                                Wrathful and Sullen


Coming upon the fifth circle, the River Styx leads us into the level containing the WRATHFUL and the SULLEN. Those who in life inflicted pain against those who angered them, seeing their victims as inferior to themselves. The lot now includes ageists who hated their own appearances, homophobes, racists, anti-Semites and the like. Many of them who have let their anger lead to murder have souls torn in two or three, with parts inhabiting lower levels of Hell as well.

A rancid river before us weaved,

            part poisoned water, but

            mostly soulless bodies heaved.

Decayed and naked, their mouths weren’t shut,

            but open and crying

            despite all the smut.

Angry and bitter, they kept on trying

            to tear at the others, attempting to rise,

            unconvinced they were all done dying.

At first I could not believe my eyes,

            like the circles before,

            seeing self-hatred, visceral on each guise.

Their mangled faces were cut still more,

            by their own hands within which

            knives and scalpels they bore.

Looking into the water, a mirrored ditch,

            their stares could not be removed,

            though they still struggled to unhitch.

A fallen pop singer, whose lack of nose proved,

            he had sought to change his face,

            a visage God himself had approved.

A horse-faced female, the red carpet she’d embraced,

            had her skin pulled back with plumped up lips,

            so that now her reflection was disgraced.

Walking on, more fame eclipsed,

            from models to actors and all the high rollers,

            each with a fear of aging, none had come to grips

with the reality of life – there are no age controllers.

            Despite Botox and lipo, silicone and tummy tucks,

            we all decay even with all of these buffers.

In eternity these sad souls continued in their flux

            and attempts to alter what He had made perfect.

            Eyes glued to reflections, their flaws were the crux.

Intolerants of growing old gave way to similar rejects.

            This time, the homophobes were left to rot,

            in punishments on the same-sex lovers to which they did subject.

A reverend from Kansas was the first of the lot,

            tied to a cross under which firey fags enflamed,

            burning him constantly, blistered and hot.

I turned up my nose at this man who had claimed

            that homosexuality was a sin and  protested at graves

            not only of those lovers, of which he belonged, though ashamed;

but at the funerals of soldiers, the bravest of brave,

            who had given their lives for their nation,

            including the reverend, that knave.

Deserving of a lower level, a true aberration

            of an understanding human being,

            though religious, he had no revelation.

“Henderson and McKinney,” Dante told me I then was seeing.

            Kidnappers and murderers all because of Shepard’s love.

            He’d never done a thing to incur their hate, seething.

Tied to broken fence posts, I looked on from above,

            as the demons pistol whipped and tortured them;

            with splintered sticks, in their eyes they did shove

Surprising it was, the men of cloth here who’d wreaked mayhem,

            each abusing their power to hurt fellow peers.

            at least here they would be forever condemned.

Nor those intolerant of another’s race, they too were here.

            The racists who harmed and killed for their hate

            before me then they did appear,

along with brothers and sisters who determined the fate

            of ethnicities and religions they called “less”

            and completely refused to tolerate.

From James Earl Ray, the killer of King, he did oppress;

            to Hitler, Columbus, the Hutus and Pol Pot,

            many members of the KKK who also refused to confess

to any wrongdoings committed in many murder plots.

            But here they stood, or sat as may be,

            each suffering as the victims they had caught.

A gunshot to the head, repeatedly;

            suffocation by gas and destruction by sword;

            cut down by machete, or starvation by degree;

lynched to the hellish trees, each shade abhorred.

            Turning to Dante, who looked on in glee,

            both of us pleased to see these infinite rewards.

Coming around the pond, amidst the debris,

            I saw a tall tower from my seat on the boat

            of Phlegyas, who had agreed

to transport us, as my guide wrote.

            Taking us to the city of Dis,

            where Dante had faltered, I must quote:

“[O]ur adversaries, slammed the gates,” a twist

            in my master’s journey, though not my own.

            Dante knew the way into the next abyss.



As Dante and I head into Dis, we are greeted by the Furies and their Queen, Medusa. Just as Dante had been instructed by Virgil, I was ordered to shut my eyes.


“You must not turn to stone,”

my master said at the tower’s base.

“Look away, for it is unknown

“whether Medusa will show her face.

Be careful of these serpent females

who forever inhabit this place.”

I did as he told, my skin growing pale,

taking his hand in mine

feeling small and frail.

None too soon appeared a figure behind,

from Heaven he had come

through all the Styx’s brine.

On Dante’s urging, to a bow I succumbed,

before Paradise’s delegate

who lit the way, though still so glum.

Without any trouble, we didn’t have to wait,

for the angel to aid

by opening Dis’s gate.

With a silent thank you from Dante, the shade

returned to where he came,

leaving us no reason to evade

the next chapter that my guide had claimed

led to “lamentation

and atrocious pain.”

Far from feeling any elation,

I suppressed an urge to flee,

steeling myself for coming aberrations.


CIRCLE SIX                                                                                                           Heretics


Dissenters of accepted belief and doctrine, almost always religious at that, inhabit the sixth circle of the Inferno. The more modern HERETICS have led believers astray through the creation of new, false religions. Similar to the contrapassos of Dante’s Inferno, these perpetrators are forever sealed in individual, firey tombs. Each, however, has an added punishment relating to their specific crimes on earth.

As we stepped further, a heightened degree

            overtook my senses, and I placed a hand

            over my eyes, protecting from debris.

The soot surrounded us amidst flames quite grand.

            They sprung from billions of open graves.

            I approached one in order to understand

the types of offenses these sinners behaved

            to warrant eternal blisters and heat.

            In the first tomb, a man, whose information I craved.

In between sobs and screams I tried to greet

            the creator of a religion of much dispute;

            profiting as prophet to those who were weak.

L. Ron Hubbard, a name of repute;

            sailor and author, scientist and “Commodore,”

            his accomplishments many, his sins a pursuit.

Scientology the product that his life bore,

            claiming followers to a new belief system

            that makes little sense when you dig in and explore.

Descendants of aliens, expressed as thetans to them,

            and ridding their lives of all other concerns,

            makes the religion seem a cult to condemn.

One cannot follow without paying to learn.

            A business at heart, Hubbard knew

            he could capitalize on any weakness he could discern.

He could not speak for he was subdued,

            by not only flames but electricity as well,

            the E-meter of his creation shocking him through.

“A true contrapasso,” I told Dante over the smell

            of burning flesh and hair that rose all around.

            I then sought another sinner, approaching another cell.

 “Here’s another prophet, or so he had found,”

            my guide said of the ex-Mormon to my right.

            “Abusee became abuser until his cult was bound.

“It was then that the murders began without much fight

            from the Avery family, all five who died

            at the hands of Jeffrey Lundgren on one fateful night.”

It was then that I gasped as a gunshot cried,

            the soul shooting himself in the back of the head,

            just as he had to that family who tried

merely to save their souls instead

            of perishing without their prophet’s love.

            Only to death their misguided loyalty led.

Heresy the crime, another culprit thereof,

            sat beside Lundgren in a burial box,

            having killed 900, to their suicides he shoved

false beliefs down their throats like a pox.

            His “Peoples Temple” was anything but.

            Paranoia of nuclear war led him to flock

along with his people to Guyana to build his hut.

            Calling it “Jonestown”, a heaven on earth,

            he called out the Bible as the ravings of a nut.

Though an integrationist nearly since birth,

            Jim Jones abused the rights of his people, too,

            resulting in a suicide of sensational berth.

An “inhumane world”, it may have been true,

            but that was no reason for killing en masse.

            Suicide or not, Jones brainwashed his crew.

And now he suffered the flames that did pass

            along with the poison he forever sipped

            within an inferno he could never surpass.

Flanked he was by a man of a similar script,

            the Branch Davidian prophet was encased,

            further punished when his penis was ripped

directly off his body by demons flying in his face,

breaking bonds of attachment that he

had done to young girls, stealing their grace.

Taking the name Karesh by his own decree,

            he brainwashed the Apocalypse ranch,

            wedding every female with guarantee.

Refusing surrender, no white flag or olive branch,

            David sacrificed himself along with seventy-five

            Davidians who stayed, all entrenched.

A selfish crusade that so few survived

            just so Karesh could conceive with kids

            whose childhood he knowingly deprived.

In death as he perished in life, forbid

            of the pleasure of his pedophilic ways,

            thinking only of the memory of what he did.

So many occupants amid the blaze,

            Dante told me, “The worse the deed

            when alive, the closer they lay,

“deprived of comfort they might receive

            by gaining some space to spread out.

            The further we descend, the less these tides recede.”

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