Open the file marked ‘your biggest fear’:
watch the paper disintegrate, leaving
a void. Step into it. Fasten the seat belt
that’s not provided; feel free to scream
on your way down. Here’s everything
you staked against the certainty that death
was the end. Here’s Charon as croupier
scooping the coins from dead men’s eyes —
the house always wins. We apologise
for the loaded dice, the stacked deck
and the fact that your cocktail waitress
has just revealed herself as the reaper.
We regret the banality of your experience,
the absence of that shimmering white light
Hollywood conned you with, the lack
of pearly gates or stairways to heaven.
No wings or harps or fluffy white clouds,
and long before you relinquish
the definition of eternity and accept
the meaning, you’ll relinquish also
the fascination of fire and brimstone,
the promise of pain and pleasure
in exquisite ratio. There’s no hell. Sorry.
There’s only this: a place to reflect
on the life we loaned you and what
you did with it. Welcome. The floor show
has been cancelled. Your credit’s no good
at the bar. The go-go dancers have gone.
Neil Fulwood (UK)