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  • Michael Barnes

In Favor of a Lesser Hell

I'll take a great view

over money or accolades

any day of the week.

A wide view

from a bridge

stopped at a light,

a thousand meters to the east--

hills of rubble progressing upward,

a thousand meters to the west--

tips of tall buildings

like empty bottles lined up on a fence

for shooting practice,

the taunt of the grandiose city,

cotton clouds

cut by the shooting sun,

a cascade of purplish-pinks

splash the sky

like an artist rushing

to answer the doorbell,

knocking over his paint cans

in a panic.


Have you ever been held in a cell?

Have you ever been held against your will

by your self?

Have you been held in a room

as a punishment?

Thru a misunderstanding from a night out at the bar?

For a night until morning?

For 3 months until sentencing?

For a true crime?

I know a man who will never walk free again.

Stemming from a lack of control of his basal instincts

leading to a gruesome fit of jealous rage,

unredeemed love, rejection, murder.

Maybe there are trees

outside the fences there,

maybe there are birds who frequent its branches,

maybe there's some grass too,

it's myriad shapes, on a halted green.


In favor of a lesser hell

I'll take a wide view around me,

absorb it into my eyes,

try and make some sense of it all,

then give up

and give it back

and drive on.