Not Quite Hell Tonight

It’s dark out and crowds abound

Dragged to a line to stand and wait

Sound blasting like Baskerville’s Hound

Wary of what to anticipate

There’s a thick buzz in the air

Smoke, sweat, and strobes streaking

From the dark of the Mad Hatter’s Lair.

Out of the depths, sin is leaking

Too late to turn back, in too deep

Trapped in the mindless, gyrating mass

Forced to dance, to sway, a pretence I can’t keep

The fog, the light, the hats crushing my soul—my sass

Where am I? What have I done?

This crowded, lonely suffocating place

Darker, deeper, blacker than the ends of space

Where am I? What have I done?

Locked into the steps of the dance

My mind tells my arms and legs to move

Losing my will to the mindless trance

Fearing throwing off the Mad Hatter’s groove

My soul cries out for breath

Wishing for the solitude of my mind

Yet lost in the dark dance of endless death

Feeling the pressure and sweat of the grind

My skeletal, Anglo- self swaying to the beat

Books and peace only in my dreams

Longing for the crisp, lonely noise of the street

My soul cries with a thousand screams

As dark and bleak as it is, yet—

It’s not quite hell tonight

Still free from the tempter’s net

Not quite, not quite Hell tonight

2 thoughts on “Not Quite Hell Tonight

  1. Such a cool change in tone from the short story. An impressive transition from insecure personal reflection to emotionally charged viscerality. Beautifully done.


    1. Thank you! This was actually written first (essentially immediately following the experience) and then I was trying to capture the same transformation in the short story (written 18 months or so after the experience), but something wasn’t working–I might keep playing with it, but we’ll see. Interesting application of the importance of form and genre, I suppose.


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