The Business of Hell (new crime poem)

The Business of Hell

If you were in a room with them, you were in a room
full of people that you had to believe would deservedly
end up in hell. I guess I will see them there soon.
– CIA Counterintelligence Chief, James Jesus Angleton

Being in the world is the business of hell.
That’s the song they sing round their tables;
but if there’s a hovering, fiery smell
it’s borne of their own desire for it,
the whole color wheel of compromise.
There’s no slime like the patriotic snail
who has the world’s complexity to blame
for all their barbarity, all their blackmail.
But aren’t they right and isn’t it our shame,
that they should sit around their tables for a time
and give me the luxury to rhyme
safe in some coffee house suburb,
and with a stack of books I like to judge them by?
We are slight compared to the planets they move,
and our plainness they plainly approve:
every average detail just another nail
that keeps us conventionally in place,
while in our names every disgrace
is excused for those pedestrian freedoms
of so much milk or cheese or bread,
and the calm certainty that we are not being led.

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