The Best Intentions

May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead. – Irish proverb

The Devil throws all the best costume parties:

in Heaven, the dress code’s just white on white
but we ride trains that don’t stop. You have to hop
them. You have to keep moving or the floor of Hell
will grow roots over your feet. It’s crowded here.
Best to stay rootless. Best to stay ruthless. You’ll
get used to the taste of blood. You came here shaking
with your best intentions held in your fists, tightly
as Mother’s Day dandelions, but here

it’s not the thought that counts.
How’d you get here, anyway?

Heard you slid down an extension cord. Heard you
crawled along the edge of a kitchen knife. Heard
you climbed through the eye of a needle. No. Heard
you got lost in the storm of your blood and sailed
your ship into a bottle. You couldn’t get out, so you
broke the glass and slit your wrists with the shards.
Heard you know that’s why the Devil has all the
best music. In Heaven, all you ever hear is “Michael
Row the Boat Ashore” and the theme from Facts of
Life
. So how could fields of xylophones and golden
singing harps compare to the symphonies we write
for detuned guitars and musical saws? We have written
operettas for cat piano and Speak-n-Spell — sonatas
with nothing but a toy violin and fingers strong enough
to squeeze beauty from brimstone. Though they

cut out our throats
we sing with our hands.

Do you really think the Cocaine Blues could’ve come
from a saint? Please. Even the best hymns were written
by sinners, because here it’s not the thought that counts.

You’ll get used to sleeping on your feet, but will you ever
get used to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and the theme
from Facts of Life? Please.

Come inside.
We’ve been expecting you.

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