The Air of Hell Will Tolerate No Hymns!


How a song chastened him, chasing them when
his demons from within went after it,
this bleeding desire that purple heart ate
aching out of myrtle bows words cut down.

As on an altar folding broken in
a wintered corridor where only thin
breath can be discerned—gunpowder scryed in
black coffee warring against its blast’s pound

stirring an abyss—false light pulled from bent
shadow—fate and faith sharing an unmade
bed—laying there before both an often
ignored portent pouring inward from pain

          pouting portions of some unseen current
          carrying caring concerns of innate


immortal warning followed, once bidden,
unheeded, drawn along an underground
river others call Night—eyes of gods plagued
by shades of kinsmen and noble ghosts round

on all sides as Desire pulls him hard through
the Universe, forward through needling
holes where stars are said to emerge from scars—
he ventures, unheroic, to stand now

in front of vicious hordes. Bones ache, spoken.
From marrow’s hollows flows in urgency
a whistling pissed arrows of tongues dart then
to know. No obligation to narrate

          obfuscated misfortune or open
          wounds to show them and share his apostate


honesty with the world, no, not again:
the air of Hell will tolerate no hymns!
Not anymore, not since aggregate Fame
doesn’t exist without growing fans—crowds

won’t return unless he performs. To burn
into fullness of bloom—to impassion
and enrapture with scratches against its
caving walls—ochre hand-prints princes crowned

before royalty’s stamp ever even
was, caking off the earth’s hardening bowels.
Dumping confessions cavernous, craven,
and cacophonous—dissonant delayed

          echoes returning dirtier weapons
          the farther they pour—drip and postulate


as, like mud running with flawed blood’s darkened
song gone blacker, then blackest, spit against
modesty’s veil—soil impaired by what shamed
idea deems its potential redound

infertile: that perhaps god’s the biggest
Narcissist of all! Glimpsing always bent
a Creation that mirrors his/her/their/
its mess of whatever heaven is now.

Assimilating then enslaving an
image in perpetual repetition,
making a living from syndication
of a simulation—the consummate

          of those participating in some faked


Christ’s lame imitations. Worship of them,
the brave victims—each sacrosanct as thieves
destroying everything culture’s vain
discomfort deems to seem offensive. Clowns

of cloned converts converting Art’s temple
to its ashen, burnt sepulchre. Amen!
Well done, everyone! All unquestioned
intentions less blasphemous left by vows

unanswered. He survives this trip’s torment
by ancient depths of transgressive sadness
evoking exile as an ornament’s
inexpressible privilege—a plague’s

          performative passion ignored by sin’s
          masses unconverted through its gay,


ubiquitous camp. Dragging hard as an
impenitent dressed in scars appealing
to the Devil’s love of frayed masquerade,
fraught costume, and injured posture. A clown

unsure of himself but certain his hurt’s
allure will win over the one who can
judge this punishment’s worth—its torture of
having to confront the Self purged! He pounds

his breast as though its door were unopened,
his bared soul more than meat encasing no
jewel within its hollowed core—taken
for tribute by instincts ignored—this fate

          craved by martyrs he abhors! Flesh glistens
          to glowing a blush his prayers immolate…

Notate Bene:
☞ The title of the poem is derived from a line in Arthur Rimbaud’s «Nuit de l’enfer» / “Night of Hell” in Une saison en enfer / A Season in Hell of A Season in Hell / Une saison en enfer & The Drunken Boat / Le bateau ivre: Translated from the French by Louise Varèse: Preface by Patti Smith, published at New York by New Directions Publishing Corporation in 2011; pages 26–27 (parallel text in French and English). In its original French, this line is rendered «[L]’air de l’enfer ne souffre pas les hymnes!»