We crossed into the vestibule together,
The door of a redundant beauty salon,
Alighting in a land of adverse weather
Where acid rain fell, ceaseless by the gallon
And ***** figures screamed on barbed-wire fences
Whilst others stood and mourned, awaiting Charon,
"You wanna know their heavenly offences?
I'd tell you but you'll think I've ******' lost it"
Said Jack as I recoiled from stricken senses,
"They saw the line but never ******' crossed it,
Preferin' just to sit in noncommittal,
These skewered birds are known as the 'agnostic',"
I knew the term for those whom faith was brittle,
Belief in 'maybe', ignorant of praises,
The will was there but sadly, far too little
And now, condemned they bled on metal razors,
Their bowels torn by their procrastination,
Immovable, sat in their fixtured places,
To Kerouac, I asked about salvation
But laughing, Jack denounced what I was saying,
"A good one, kid but in that situation,
When neither **** nor Heaven wants you stayin',
It's here you'll find your ******' revelations
Within those barbs and blades and no point prayin'",
My heart began to to race in fibrillations
And Kerouac, who sensed my faith disbanding
Picked up on my inflecting reservations,
"I wouldn't worry, slim; God ain't remandin'
Your soul for wantin' confidence and closure,
Unlike that lot, you seek an understandin',
Now, fix your make-up, kid and gain composure,
The riverboat is comin', don't you worry,
The other side, its just like Nova Scotia.",
I looked toward the blackened river slurry,
I saw the anguished ****** that congregated
And not a soul within a them in a hurry
To board the brooding ferryboat that waited,
Its captain, cloaked in charcoal roared and beckoned,
Compelled them all aboard with scorn and hatred,
"We'll mosey down and see him in a second"
Said Kerouac whilst rolling up tobacco,
"He ain't that fly, he's really just a deck-hand,
In fact, I think he might be ******' wacko
But so would you, aboard that ******' ferry,
It's like deportin' Jews to Kraków-Płaszów",
To this, my guide held up a glass of sherry,
"A toast to ****, our blessed alma mater"
Said Kerouac, his voice robust and merry,
He cried out 'See you later, alligator"
And waved to those who squirmed on fences, bleeding,
His smile, sardonic; impish like a satyr,
He led me down to where the crowds, receding
Were forced aboard by Charon's flaming lantern,
Receiving only malice as a greeting
And those that chose to run were dragged by phantoms
Then cast into the Acheron to languish,
A sight that chilled my soul's most inner sanctums,
We stopped and watched the scenes of fear and anguish,
As Charon now approached, I thought of Goya
And deities of ancient Eastern language,
"Well, lookee here! It's Huck and young Tom Sawyer!"
Said Charon in a mocking voice of gravel,
Propelling me to heights of paranoia,
"You cannot ride among this fallen rabble,
For only the deceased can reach Inferno,
Now go! Return among your herd of cattle!"
"Just back up, slick." Said Jack, now drinking Pernod,
"This guy has special sanctified permission
To learn where souls who challenge and demur go.",
As Kerouac relayed our expedition,
I sensed the awful captain's resignations,
He shook his head in abject indecision,
"Not this again, these ******* aggravations!
The last time Mary did this ****, I told her
In less poetic terms, it wears my patience."
As Charon moaned, old Jack massaged his shoulder,
"I know you do your best to expedite 'em,
I feel you, man; one soldier to a soldier
And now your work-day's just about to brighten,
'Cos here's a little somethin' here to pay thee.",
Said Jack, bestowing Charon with an item,
I saw the stone and whispered" Are you crazy?! "
As Charon walked away in satisfaction,
"Fat chance" Laughed Jack, "That diamond's a fugazi!,
I prayed to God that Jack's unfair transaction
Would not incense the ferryman to ******
And hoped the ****** provided a distraction,
At least until we'd got a distance further
Away from here and into ****'s aorta,
I cringed as Charon roared with hellish fervour
And off the vessel sped across the water,
I clung with whitened hands to ancient railings,
Expectancy of life now growing shorter,
"Now this is what I call efficient sailin'!"
Said Kerouac, unfazed by waves and motion
As I was thrown about, my body flailing,
Sulphuric rain and winds assailed the ocean,
A storm so fierce it rendered me unconscious,
My final thought, a disenchanted notion
Of Jesus, of Antipas and of Pontius
And all the pious pitfalls scripture conjures.
Canto Three homage.