Hell and back

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“Lost” by Charles Bukowski

they say that hell is crowded, yet,
when you’re in hell,
you always seem to be alone.
& you can’t tell anyone when you’re in hell
or they’ll think you’re crazy
& being crazy is being in hell
& being sane is hellish too.

those who escape hell, however,
never talk about it
& nothing much bothers them after that.
I mean, things like missing a meal,
going to jail, wrecking your car,
or even the idea of death itself.

when you ask them,
“how are things?”
they’ll always answer, “fine, just fine…”

once you’ve been to hell and back,
that’s enough
it’s the greatest satisfaction known to man.

once you’ve been to hell and back,
you don’t look behind you when the floor creaks
and the sun is always up at midnight
and things like the eyes of mice
or an abandoned tire in a vacant lot
can make you smile
once you’ve been to hell and back.

“Lost” by Charles Bukowski, from Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame

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