To worship the leader is to worship our god, say cult members before they’re arrested. How does religion make you feel? Certain death, stake chips on the hereafter, or spin earth for a sunrise tomorrow? Truth is, you’ve been duped by your broker and hoodwinked by your minister out of your promised immortal treasures.

“You’ll see your whole family in heaven, my friend,” said the minister as he lay dying. Certainty grows when we parrot dogma. To get into heaven, the test is quite simple: Choose kindness before your self-interest. Only one in ten makes it. So many sublets in heaven they can’t even charge rent. In perfection, complaining is frowned on.

Here on Earth, assholes figure they’re going to heaven. Always got their way. Why not paradise? They’ll find where to purchase the next revelation, the next rung to climb the holy ladder. So you shot the last tiger, huh? Put its head on your wall, then fuck on its fur by the fire. Pay the church, pray to Jesus’ mother. Wash, rinse and repeat. Now you’re ready to knock at the gate.

Sad to say, they don’t allow assholes like you into heaven. It’s not paradise if you’re never happy. “They didn’t try half hard enough. Three out of five stars. Did you see the way that angel looked at me?” 

For you, they’ve reserved a place away from the others, because to you, your pain feels like a comfort.

You anticipate finer things and old friends, but in the afterlife your family has choices. That’s why they aren’t here to greet you. At the end of the tunnel you see the white light, but those blobs become alien creatures. You’re being stroked by their tentacles. They need your soul for a cosmic experiment. 

Say you do get in, how long before the T-cells of heaven reject you? When you cut someone off on your flying carpet, or flip the bird at one of God’s angels? The third time you complain? Because you can’t be depressed. It drags other souls down from the aether.

The dead infest caverns locked deep in the earth, along rivers of underground memory, but it’s too dark there, so we raised the skyline, making gravity fully negotiable. You can fly like in Quidditch, but without all the brooms. Just think it and then you are there. Why limit your vision? Free yourself from the doctrines of others. 

Do crushed dreams ice your cocktail? That is your shadow rising. What is heaven if you can’t enjoy it? “Pleasure is the first step on the long slide to Hell,” is what they told you when you felt desire, until you wanted nothing but to tear it all down. Burn Earth for a ticket to heaven.

Get on board the train. The conductor is restless. The train passes into a tunnel. The tunnel gets tighter and tighter around you. You’re expelled from the tunnel, aka the canal, in a burst of light. 

Meet your new family.

Fred Pierre works at the public library near the new book section. Fred wrote a satirical piece about internet cooking culture for High Shelf Magazine, Vol XVII, and Fred's poems have appeared in Tiny Seed Journal, on Poet's Choice YouTube, and in Outdoor Voices for an Indoor Wold vol. 6. Fred's dog is a lover, but she would battle a thundercloud to protect him.

Art by Crow Jonah Norlander.

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