“Canto III The Opportunists” by Linda Johnson

Today, Lise and Kolleen explore “Canto III The Opportunists” by Linda Johnson, submitted to Zoetic Press for NonBinary Review #19 Dante’s Inferno.

I AM BUT ONE WAY TO THE CITY OF SUFFERING,
I AM A WAY TO ETERNAL PAIN, THROUGH ETERNAL FAME,
I AM THE WAY FOR A SELF-CENTERED PEOPLE.

SKEWED INTENTIONS MOVED MY ARCHITECT.
MY MAKER PERCEIVED ITSELF AS DIVINE,
AS ONE WITH WISDOM, INTELLECT AND LOVE.

BEFORE ME NO BEING WAS TIMELESS,
NO BEING WAS ENDLESS.
BUT THROUGH ME EXISTENCE IS IMMORTAL, ALL IS SAVED ETERNALLY.

ABANDON EVER HESITATION,
EVERY SENSE OF JUDGEMENT,
ALL WHO ENTER HERE.

These mysteries I read
inscribed in 12-point Times New Roman
I question their meaning.

My guide of understanding replies:
“Here one gathers their soul
against all cowardice, against all inhibitions.

For we have reached the space of which I spoke,
where you will see the fallen people, those of fabricated lives—
souls who have denied the good of the true intellect.”

Then with a wry smile he placed his hand upon mine,
upon the mouse, and clicked me in,
among the hidden things.

Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
were echoing across the heavily worded air,
overwhelming me to tears of confusion and horror.

Strange political utterances, horrible pronouncements,
angry accusations of fault and blame, words of insult
voices shrill and faint, without filter.

Voices screaming through words and keystrokes,
creating an unbreathable air of toxic filth
throughout the whole of the space.

In my horror, I ask my guide,
“What souls are these that click and post
amid this gray haze of trending air?”

To me he replies, “These are the sorry souls
who in life claimed no blame
and sought only self-fame.

Here they mingle, with the fallen angels,
those who touted alliance with all good and aversion to all evil,
but were truly faithful only to themselves.

The beauty of Heaven has rejected them in their indecision
and the depths of Hell will not receive them in their arrogance.
Forever they remain an unknown, an outcast from all.”

“But what compels them to weep and wail so loudly,
with such intent anger and pain?
What drives them to lash out with such coded verbiage?”

His reply, “As in life, they deeply desire that which they do not have
and for them, death is unattainable.
Therefore, they have no hope of final escape.

Now made known to them, the world did not remember them
They are but a mere fraction of a byte, forgotten in an infinite cloud.
Speak not of them: stare with disparagement and pass on.”

Upon closer look I saw a viral banner circling around and around,
then racing back and forth without warning, without pause,
moving at immeasurable broad bands of speed per second.

Fervently chasing the banner were all the souls
for each one’s name and profile were written upon it.
The great number of views was incomprehensible to my mind.

With the recognition of many, I realized,
these are those whose professed loyalty changed like the wind,
blowing this way and that way with the latest trend of the moment.

Those seeking full exposure in life, they now run naked,
being stung over and over by the hornets and wasps
of public rejection that swarm them constantly.

Despite all their efforts, the stingers strike relentlessly.
The wounds fester and ooze, mixing with their tears,
streaking their selfie faces with blood and pus.

The putrid fluids drizzle down their no longer photoshopped bodies
and are fed upon by the trolling worms and maggots
that make up the ground upon which they run.

Yet they continue to run with great speed, chasing their banners
with a false security of data, believed protection from hackers and viruses,
safety and defense from the very trolls they feed.

They continue to wail loudly and post,
to voice themselves and their perceived self-importance,
believing they deserve all affirmation and attention.

It pains me deeply to watch their endless efforts,
their infinite suffering and pain poured out in tweets, replies and comments.
I ask my guide of understanding, “Why? Why is this their fate?”

To me he replies, “They sought only self-satisfaction in life, never choosing good or evil.
Therefore, they attain only self-dissatisfaction after life, which is neither good nor evil.
Mental and physical pain that can never be relieved.

This is their eternity, for they have already received their viral rewards.”
And with those words I fell from the grid upon which we stood,
and logged off, into a deep sleep.