Fresh Hells

by Kate Angus

1. Limbo

Hello, Facebook.
Hello, Facebook Silence.

2. Lust

You do not want to go on a second date with that lawyer, just admit it; you only wonder if it’s possible to be fucked out of your loneliness.

3. Gluttony

Is there kale?
There is no kale; all the bins are empty.
You know who else doesn’t have kale?
All those people dying.
What’s wrong with you that you aren’t grateful?
Your cupboards are a cornucopia of all you have that you don’t want.

4. Greed

Sandals with gold straps of a finer plastic, blue necklace, black dress.
For your book to finally be published on some minor but still notable press.
To love someone who loves you back.
Kids, maybe, even if your fertility might be an hourglass as the sand runs out.
An apartment where the faucets do not leak.

5. Anger

The nail salon radio station plays an extended version of “You’ve Got a Friend” the week after one of your favorite friendships ends. The anxiety that comes from terrible music. How much more than stifling the slide towards crying you want to type out “James Taylor can go to hell,” but one hand is in the bowl of water, the other stilled motionless as Lucy paints meticulous red upon your nails. This is probably for the better — you’d have wanted to send the text to the one who isn’t speaking to you now anyway.

6. Heresy

“The soul dies when the body dies” — so say the Epicureans
It took so long to love the body; hating spiders, having spider veins.
Sometimes the body outlives the soul as any late night bar might show you.
I want to believe that something will outlast us, but I’m so often wrong.
There is an actual website called

7. Violence

Dante counts violence against the self: profligates, suicides
A pack of cigarettes at the bodega costs $14.50.
The night of drinking will run another $35.

8. Fraud

Fraud involves intentional deception: a willfully false representation
that harms the other for personal gain. In this it is different

from mistakes or false cognates/friends; for example, “fast” means “speedy”
or, in German, “almost”; as in, we were swift and almost friends.

9. Treachery

Those who betray fidelity, confidence or trust
are found star-fished and limbs pin-wheeling
beneath the frozen lake; eyes open, they can stare,

but cannot speak. So saith Dante,
who with his Virgil, climbed down Satan’s ragged fur
to escape. There are so many different paths

to what either person could call betrayal. I would trade
being right for an ice-ax or a bonfire
to loosen the ice-clogged rivers of our throats.

Kate Angus’s work has appeared in Indiana Review, Barrow Street, Subtropics, The Awl, Gulf Coast, Court Green, Third Coast, Verse Daily and Best New Poets 2010, among other places. She lives in New York where she is a founding editor of Augury Books and teaches at Gotham Writers Workshop.

Photo via Brian Auer/flickr.