“Devil’s Reign” by Joseph Devon

TWA 65 Joe-01

Sitting on his throne one day, clawed fingers softly thrumming,
The great dark lord peered out upon his minions’ constant humming,
With teeth like fangs and eyes like fire and deep voice ever-booming,
He glared out at his endless realm and fire all-consuming.

His throne was made of skulls and bones and teeth and rotten elbows,
His footrest was a living man who’d long since decomposed.
In his mug there was not wine but tears of mortal sadness,
And standing up he waved an arm and laughed at all the madness.

He barked, “My lands are never-ending, my job is never done.
I have fresh souls to torture and my jails fill one by one.
Life is rich and lovely as we dish out hurt and pain,
I can’t think of a better heaven than this hell o’er which I reign.”

He walked down iron stairs that flowed out darkly from his throne,
And through his screaming agonizing kingdom did he roam.
He stopped at all his torture shops and paddocks rife with screams,
Taking stock of his great lands, as the king of all dark dreams.

He craned his thick red neck and turned his eyes up through the smoke,
Where new fresh souls were pouring in, ready for his yoke.
They fell from some far distant spot, unknown to any eyes,
Hundreds, thousand, millions, they came raining from the sky.

Their forms did flail and crash as they tumbled to the ground
Off rock and platform, crag and bluff, off hillock and off mound.
Each turn and bash, as they fell, directed them in turn
Into the final level where their wicked souls would burn.

This one fell just short a bit, careening off a rock
And landed with a plaintive moan inside the liar’s dock.
All around her were deceivers, wily scoundrels, and sad cheats,
Molten lava burning daily, the skin right off their feet.

Look that one bounces further still, deeper into hell
Careening off a bluff into the place where he will dwell
The den of thieves will be his home, surrounded by his kind,
Ravens pecking at their eyes anew each day till blind.

Murderers fell with screams and cries into their own small place,
A pit of feces thick with bodies struggling for some space.
Their legs and arms and chests were ever-changing in their weight,
They thrash in hot excreta and forever suffocate.

Lazy slothful souls fell down in tiny iron cages,
Their bars pinned tight around them till the end of all the ages.
The greedy had a banquet hall where meals did never stop
Forever down their maw was stuffed an endless flood of slop.

Rapists, bullies, arsonists, warlords who once had reigned
All fell to their respective spots to be forever pained.
And the great dark lord saw all of this while walking through his land
He smiled, proud and boastful, his goblet in his hand.

Returning to his throne he sat, his eyes did still survey
He settled back, put down his drink, and thought about his day.
It would continue on like this with no real end in sight
He smiled as he listened to the screams of those in plight.

On and on, without an end, their suffering would go,
And his smile faltered just a bit, his shoulders slumped just so.
It never stopped, it never ceased, the job was never done
Nothing got completed, his accomplishments were none.

And in his head there flashed a thought that echoed in his eyes.
He grunted, fighting back against this thought that did surprise.
With nothing ever changing in this world where he did reign,
Was he even really reigning? Were his actions all in vain?

The notion hung about his head; he struggled to recall
What was it that was said to him when first he was installed.
Pondering and uneasy he looked out at hell’s expanse,
Was he really king here…or just the first one to the dance?





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IMG_4358Joseph Devon: Hailing from New Jersey, Joseph is sarcastic, caustic, abrasive, and yet a surprisingly good cook. As the eldest member of the arena’s cadre, Joseph has come to rely on discipline over flash and dozens of rewrites over bursts of creativity. He also sometimes remembers where he put his dentures. Joseph grew up fighting for attention over loud guidos and even louder New Yorkers and polished a knack for concise, striking imagery. A fan of most anything silly, Joseph also has a depth hidden under his love of talking animals that can rope in unsuspecting readers and make them think before they realize they’re reading anything of substance. Joseph is the author of the first two books of the Matthew and Epp trilogy, Probability Angels and Persistent Illusions and is hard at work on the third.

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  1. Two thoughts:
    1) I’d be hard-pressed to find any other piece of writing that described a steaming shit hole so eloquently.

    2) I didn’t know it was possible to make the devil sad, but I’m pretty sure you succeeded.

  2. You wrote a poem about Hell, and the Devil’s place in it. You need to be rewarded for even attempting that, because the immediate competitors you have ain’t Tony Southcotte, it’s Milton and Dante.

    I’m not going to talk about this as a poem, save to say that poetry is the home of the image and the metaphor, and nothing I say about this actually matters because never in an Age would I have approached this as a poem, but you did, and that’s crazy.

    It works, too. The zinger at the end could only work if you’d written it like this. I’m impressed as hell.

  3. This is beautiful, and ambitious, and effective. I loved the descriptions of the general domain of hell, and the specific punishments each of the denizens had to endure, but I’m not sure I completely bought into the ending. After all those terrors so eloquently described I’m not fully convinced that the worst of the punishments in hell could be boredom. I think maybe if we understood a bit more about our Satan character I could believe that his punishment was in keeping with his crimes, but as it is, that revelation didn’t have quite the same impact for me that it seemed to for other readers.

  4. First off, you bastard. I seem to recall Mr. Devon not really enjoying when I put poems into my stories. And then he fires off a story completely told in verse. That enmity quickly dissolved, though, after the first few sentences when it’s apparent this is some excellent prose. I really can’t think of anything else to say about this, except magnificent work, you magnificent bastard. Yes, I called you that twice, but it’s meant with much love.

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