I dreamed I went down into darkest hell
and drifted, shadelike, across that sad plane,
while all around me walked others who fell
into the abyss, though few howled in pain
and even fewer seemed tortured. But where
was the lake of fire or the brimstone plume,
or the cloven hoof’d taskmaster’s rank lair,
with its golden scourge? Rather than the gloom
foretold by the book, I found there the Earth
in all its modern glory: a suburb,
vast and sprawling and devoid of all mirth,
tree-lined, franchised, weekly trash at the curb.
I gasped for breath and I began to weep
when I realized I hadn’t been asleep.

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