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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

'Heaven and Hell' by Kurt Luchs

One of the Apocryphal Books tells of a Heaven very

different from that envisioned by the ancients. In this

particular paradise it is always a clear moonless night

with as many stars in the sky (so they say) as there are

redeemed souls. The housing is modern and well-lit.

There are rooms for everyone. One has a deep echo,

and here the sycophants recline on lush couches, testing

their singing voices. Another room built especially for

theologians holds nothing but a spittoon and thousands

upon thousands of texts, all in unknown tongues or with

print too fine for reading. However, a reading lamp

is provided. For those who prefer the taste of blood

there is a kitchen where they may kill small animals

with their bare hands, after donning a white apron.

For those who love money there are halls filled with more

gold than Montezuma's ransom. There are pleasure rooms,

opium for the sleepy, whips for the cruel, lectures for the bored…

Hell is an anteroom where waits a group of persons

not noticeably different from those in Heaven. Here a polite

receptionist reminds them not to smoke and they read

dated trade magazines. Every few minutes the girl promises

that if they will just be patient, in a little while someone

in authority will be ready to see them.

All Rights. Kurt Luchs.

Kurt Luchs ( won a 2022 Pushcart Prize, a 2021 James Tate Poetry Prize, the 2021 Eyelands Book Award for Short Fiction, and the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He is a Senior Editor of Exacting Clam. His humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017), and his poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up (2021), are published by Sagging Meniscus Press. His latest poetry chapbook is The Sound of One Hand Slapping (2022) from SurVision Books (Dublin, Ireland). He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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