Fiction - Dropping Balm, Summer 2001

by Ward Kelley

Random Details of Hell


The first thing that strikes a person is

its remarkable similarity to earth, as if

one were walking on the Jersey shore.


The ocean of hell rolls its surf, off to

my left, as effortlessly as the Atlantic,

and though I had expected an avalanche


of crimson here, the color scheme is little

different than Wildwood, although there

appears to be no boardwalk. The other


people on the beach are no more distraught

than any other vacationer and they possess

similar looks of happy disorientation. I think


I would like to speak to one of them, but I

resist this temptation for I realize I could

not explain my present situation any better


now than when I was alive. What would I

ask? “How long are we going to be here?”

or “When does our suffering end?” These


questions appear just as inappropriate

now as they once did back on earth. So

I continue down the beach, kicking surf.




The Death of the Moon


We are done howling . . .

we arise from all-fours

and brush off our knees.


We feel a tad sheepish,

after all this baying and

eye-popping exhortation.


The moon itself appears

embarrassed, then rattles

a few seconds on its hinge.


Abruptly it drops, falling from

the once mothering black sky as

gracelessly as an uncovered tryst.


We do not hear or see the great

splash, yet we know it hit the

Atlantic and is gone forever.


Those things for which we yearn

never seem to bear up under

our pleas, for we usually tend


to ruin what we love most. The sky

is empty; we think to howl, but now

restrain ourselves and try to hide.


© 2005 Ward Kelley

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