type writer

Mapping Hell

Country of Origin: United States of America

Trigger Warning: Mentions of Sex and Self-Harm

hell is a dank, dark basement apartment 

once a home for two 

but now only housing one who perpetually breathes in mildew 

while learning the meaning of the phrase ‘crawling with bugs’ as he sits alone on a queen sized bed

and binges Game of Thrones 

because even the most brutal fantasy is now better than reality,

and he’s so listless from the booze and the weed that masturbating seems pointless

so instead 

he draws maps of places that don’t exist, detailing precisely the curve of streams and the rise of mountains, the run of shores and the breadth of oceans, defining geography and topography, building nations and inventing history, telling himself that one day it’ll go into a book but knowing full well all he’s doing is creating even more elaborate fantasies than the one he’s just left, more lies to tell himself at night so he might sleep 

but sleep never comes 

instead it creeps around his mattress 

like a monster from a child’s dream

 while accordion music leaks down from the ceiling 

because even Hell needs beauty if only as a reminder of what is missing, 

and so he sits watching bugs crawl up the walls, over the counters, and atop the tables 

where he once shared meals 

before he began imagining himself sitting in the tub, 

arms opened, 

face flushed, 

cold water running to numb the cuts 

now so real he can feel their curves like sanguine streams rushing down past the pale rising mountains of his knees, 

running along the scarlet shores of his feet, 

and emptying into the velvet red ocean gathering broad and deep enough to drown 

but just as the current’s swell starts to overwhelm, 

the waves break, 

the tide abates, 

and he swims back to land 

where he puts away the maps, stops telling himself stories, and instead begins to write a book. 

Thank you to De’Amber Harris for their inspired edit on this piece and everyone else on the Fiction team.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to the DG Sentinel, please visit our submissions page here.

DJ Leary is a traveling poet with a passion for storytelling. Most days, you can find him sitting on a street corner with a typewriter, writing impromptu poetry for strangers. He owns one cat named Jack.

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