'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 (kurtluchs.com) 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.