Live from LimboSubmitted by Tom Sorrell at 2014-12-18 18:17:48 EST
Rating: 2.0 on 4 ratings (5 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
I could use some feedback on this. It's the new version of something I posted a while back, so if it seems familiar ... right.
Greetings, dear reader. I sing to you from the misty shores of the River Styx on the outskirts of Hell. Limbo, to be exact. The name’s Publius Virgil Maro. Most folks just call me Virgil, as in “The Poet, Virgil.” You may have heard of me. I’m a big deal. People still know me in the 21st century and I died two decades before the first one began. That’s impressive, yes? Yes.
And yes, I wrote The Aeneid. So? I hate that poem. It’s an epic pack of lies – mythos and propaganda, woven together to legitimize the new reign of Augustus Octavian and keep the Roman citizens in line during the transition of power. I only agreed to write it because I had to. All modesty aside, I was a popular artist in my day – the John Lennon of Rome – and after the Ides of March people came to me saying things like, “Write us a poem, Virgil. Help us claim divine right, Virgil. Say Virgil, did you see the dagger in my associate’s toga? It’s sharp.” Imagine this said in rapid-fire Italian by a sneering John Belushi, drunk on wine and power, demanding you write a poem or Dan Aykroyd will cut your balls off. That’s what it was like. How does one say no to that? One doesn’t. One shuts up and writes a poem.
After ten years of struggling with the damnable thing I went to Athens, stumbled up to the Emperor and drunkenly told him to shove The Aeneid up his ass. I said I was Virgil, damn it, and I was going to write what I wanted to write (which, at the time, was a 40,000 word poem about grapes). Octavian's niece fainted, he held out his left arm and sent me away. On the trip home I died. Two jerkoffs you’ve never heard of edited my poem and handed it over to be published. After 2,100 years The Aeneid is still the dominant book in my catalogue. Of my millions of words I’m known for my least favorites. Ah, Limbo ... irony is at its richest here.
Speaking of "Here," it's like any other place – Naples or Fargo, Cairo or Tokyo, Oslo or Rio – all in the eye of the beholder. Limbo looks and feels like reality, whatever that means. You can kick a rock and it feels like kicking a rock. When I step out my front door I see Mantua, Italy. It looks like whatever year it really is. 2014, I suppose, and the dominant culture seems to be the American one. It’s well-lit and mostly safe, though I see more and more concrete each year. I wonder if it’s like this for everyone. I find it tragic. I love nature. I wrote about it often. Perhaps if people knew me for The Eclogues or The Georgics this urban jungle would be greener.
Then again, it’s nearly impossible to locate quality reading material. Penny novels litter the ground, but ask about Gallus or Propertius and people look at you like you're the crazy one. You have to know someone who knows someone to find old books. It’s easier to find drugs and only slightly less dangerous. I suppose libraries still exist, but who has a month to kill trying to locate one? Might as well stay in and watch TV. I know it's strange, me talking about electricity and modern amenities, but I'm dead, folks. When you exist outside of time you add and remove things you or others like (even if you don’t know you’re doing it). To most modern people electricity is vital. They use it and love it. They talk about it all the time. Dead or alive, the word spreads and almost overnight we have electricity and Limbo's lined with long black wires going from pole to pole. That’s all you see if you look up now - wires and poles.
I suppose it was inevitable. After all, electricity allows things unseen a way to travel while providing people with things such as light and unlimited programming, streamed live from The Source to a glowing screen in their living room. Might as well watch, eh? It is Limbo, after all, and there’s plenty of time to kill. Few things accomplish that task better than television-based entertainment. One of those things is alcohol and, thank the gods, there’s plenty of it. We have more liquor stores than people, most of them nestled in strip malls between Cash Advance Express and Rent-A-Center – liquor stores, that is. Not people – they only leave their homes to go to work. You rarely find them out in the world and when you do, odds are good they're being controlled like puppets.
Along those lines, daily and weekly news rags are still around, though they’re being replaced by second-to-second electronic coverage. The news will never, ever die. People always want to know what’s going on, even if they don’t quite understand what they're seeing. It makes me chuckle when I pick up a paper and see a fat kid in Asia Minor trying to destroy his Limbo because he figured out how to build better weaponry than everyone else, or flip on the glowing screen and watch a housewife in Pleasantville see colors for the first time, tell everyone what red looks like (to her), and watch a chain reaction that starts with ice cream and ends with the local basketball team not being able to make a jump shot. ... I may have just confused the news with a Tobey McGuire movie. I’m a bit scatterbrained. And drunk. Quite drunk. Cut me some slack. You’d be sloshed too if you lived in this place for 2,000 years with these people.
When I say "these people" I mean all these people. They’re the same in Limbo as anywhere else. They lie, cheat, steal, fuck and fight. They do these things while speaking English, Italian, French, Latin, Mandarin, Swahili … you name it, it’s all basically the same. In fact, we are all basically the same when we get right down to it – we're stuck in an endless loop running in circles like a semi-retarded monkey. We run and run, faster and faster until we pass out, wake up and do it all over again. We retain nothing, most of us, anyway. Not me, of course. I’m learned. Damned learned. Refined, even. Smarter than your average bear as Yogi would say.
And that's it, the main difference between most humans and me, aside from poetic flair. I'm self-aware. I know I’m dead and this is Limbo. The others I meet rarely do. It’s a burden more than anything. I have so few meaningful conversations. I’m usually teaching. Many lost souls have shown up expecting me to guide them on a journey of self-realization. I do my best, leading each wayfarer though the depths of their mind, into the fires of Hell and on to freedom. It’s the most daunting task a soul can undertake. Why am I involved? Simple…
Dante Alighieri is an asshole. A narcissistic asshole. A narcissistic asshole with an immense talent for thievery and a heap of writing ability. I hate that he’s as good as he is. Still, back when Dante was out of money and irrelevant, the fool dropped me into his nightmare world of allegory, celebrity, mythology and liberal “borrowing” of other writers’ work. The insane little Italian was the first to disturb my riverside slumber. His actions opened the floodgates and my afterlife has never been the same.
Ever since his Dante's Divine Comedy was published I’ve been bombarded with confused idiots showing up in my home to request safe passage through the Pit. It never fails, the only person who can help them is me, Virgil, a simple poet. They’ve turned me into a magician. I was a farmer. I liked that role better. These days I’m just bored. Bored with all of this and more than ready for the end to commence.