Swans Commentary » swans.com July 14, 2008  



A Hell Of Heaven
And Vice Versa


by Karen Ritenour


A Short Play



(Swans - July 14, 2008)  


Act I


Scene:  Hell, where there is no light, only a deep red moon, black flames, and shadows of a tree, of flames, of Satan. Twilight colors in background.


I, i          Satan pacing furiously up and down.


I've been hogwashed, bamboozled, besmirched.
Say they I am the author of Hell? They lie.
Me and mine to Hell are forever consigned. But
The Eternal made that unholy die. Not I.

It was He who invented these sights of woe,
These regions of sorrow, of war, of turmoil without hope.
Torture, prison, black fire—
All these got up, not by me, but Him, His lunatic ire.

Red lightening, abyss undeep, in which these He also keeps:
Unsatiate and unbounded fury, countless and unrelenting foes! huge heaps!
These are His, belong to Him.
I could no more make them than I could spit.

By His will I am chained to this hellhot lake,
Never to rise, except by His permission,
To reiterate my crime, and thus, apparently,
To make Him shine. This, too, is not mine.


I, ii          Satan pacing calmly upside down.


Is this domain full with gold? (Though Pandemonium has it bold).
Golden idols only in Heaven sold,
And bought and bought and bought with lives,
'Til only gold and death there, three or eight times over, thrive.

Plural-sex, strong flesh,
So what if on our heads fierce animals sit;
No war in Hell is;
Torture, greed, war are His—and they're a hit!
When in the next act my enemy in Heaven gets His chance to speak,
He will boast about that which I only squeak,
Of death in Heaven, joy in destruction, Armageddon, angels
Perverse, and astounding disunion, all which, false, He calls love, or worse, mercy.

But hate, there in God's abode, is "wrath."
Evil "good."
God knows well how to gull.
Such bull!


I, iii          Satan reclining.


Peace: a bedroom, soft and sticky,
Dull and heavy, like sleep.
In Hell it's true there is no rest; but neither is in Heaven,
Where gold and worship are each never-ending "cheep."

When did I ever say, "Me or Death?" OK, I tormented Job, slew his family,
Took all he had. But I never said, "Sin or breath?" God promised "free," not me.
(His promise though, has a lot of gumption because it's more like force by compulsion).
And Job is one. God has billions—there's no comparison.

The dictator terrorizes, thereby wins cooperation.
God, The Dictator, does the same.
All who follow God do so to save themselves.
"Cooperation" gives them life and safe passage out of low delves, like Hell.

Terror and tyranny are God's true reigns,
Wreaking havoc on sinners, endless pains,
Death. Simple, as with any Dictator, but the dull are blind, compelled by greed
And love of self to overlook gruesome threats from their savior.


I, iv          Satan pacing frantically up and down.


These last centuries are taken straight from the Bible.
All nations dictate, and all humankind takes dictation.
Humankind follows what The Dictator models,
(Then covers this up, like God, but with pretended socialism, pretended democracy,
pretended freedom-piss-poor libations).

Terrorists declare war on terrorists,
Declare war on themselves, which no one of themselves resists.
Terrorists made in God The Dictator's image are good
(Though all good terrorists surely are winked together under hood).
Democracy shoots and one-third dies.
It shoots and painful sores appear on its enemies.
It shoots and the sun's heat burns (friend and) foe.
It shoots and its armies are loosed to kill one-third more.

Blood, lust, confused love—mere secondary images in Hell,
Which in Heaven are primary, perfect, clear:
Wrath, vengeance, honored hate—
Hush! Here God comes, and, as usual, late.


Thunder in the distance. Stage darkens.


Act II


Scene:  Heaven, the exact duplicate of Hell, except there is All Light, a gold tree, gold flames, gold streets, a gold sun (rather than a moon). Heaven is in the shape of a large throbbing and gleaming white rose. There are white shadows (gold-foil): a shadow of the tree, of gold flames, of Satan in the gown of God, of many Angels carrying trumpets, adoring Him. Satan is immersed within the flower on a hill called Armageddon. Earth is below to the east (represented by a small globe with human figurines upon it).


II, i          Standing are Satan in the gown of God and numerous Angels with trumpets.

SATAN          To audience.

Heaven! Here is my goodness made manifest.
Did the Devil say else? You can't believe Him! No. The Devil always lies.
Now witness pure light full of pure love, of pure joy, of pure sweetness, of pure good.

Light brightens, blinds audience. The host of Angels becomes a host of bees, wings of gold. The bees descend into the white rose, wings beating "Peace! Peace!" then reascend to adore and do good work. Satan speaks to Angels.

All who surrender to My love are adorned by My light,
And by their own smiles and their own grace.
And All are drawn by me from bondage to liberty.
Satan has, as he has before, misunderstood.

Satan, still speaking to Angels, begins pacing up and down.

Go, dear angel, sound the trumpet and cause one-third to die.

Exit Angel, who sounds the trumpet off stage.
One-third of the figurines on the replica earth fall.

Go, sweet, sound the trumpet that releases the wrathful plague
And causes the death of all humankind but 144,000.

Exit another Angel, who sounds a different trumpet and tune off stage.
All but 144,000 of the figures on the replica earth fall.

Go, pretty angel, sound the trumpet; send to earth rain, blood, fire, and hail.

Exit Angel, who sounds a different tune on a trumpet off stage.
All 144,000 of the figures on the replica earth are afflicted. They moan.

Go, little one, sound the trumpet and loose the plague composed of my wrath.
Cause painful sores to appear on all moral quacks.

Exit Angel, who sounds a different trumpet.
All 144,000 of the figures are again afflicted. They moan.


II, ii          Satan standing peacefully now in the flower.

SATAN          To audience.

Behold My greatness. This garden, this respite—
Repose in this place is such love, such delight.
At my pleasure I endow all with grace and plenty.
None of this company is more or less excellent.
Within this realm, inequitability can have no place,
Nor thirst, starvation, sorrow, or hate.
I am the Primal Love. In me is Mercy, Pity, Munificence, Goodness.
My Light is True. All Good is all gathered in all Love Light, and is thus proved.

Satan turns to the Angels and begins pacing up and down in the flower on Armageddon.

Go, angel mine, sound the trumpet; throw a blazing ball into the sea,
Turn one-third of it to blood, and destroy one-third of all creatures in and on it.

She goes and sounds off off stage.
A third of the sea on the replica earth turns red and a third of all ocean creatures in and on it fall.

Go, angel swine, sound the trumpet; let go another wrathful plague.
Turn ALL the sea to blood, and kill ALL the creatures in and on it this time.

She goes and sounds a tune on her trumpet off stage.
All of the sea on the replica earth turns red and all ocean creatures in and on it die.

Go, angels with laurel twigs, sound your trumpets.
By the music of one, let a star fall and let one-third of all rivers and springs turn bitter.
By the music of the other, send another plague [a third one]
And turn all rivers and springs to blood.

They go.
One sounds a new tune on her trumpet off stage.
One-third of all rivers and springs on the replica earth turn bitter.
The other sounds a tune off stage and one-third of all rivers and springs are turned to blood.

Go, pigs, sound your trumpets.
Let one-third the sun, the moon, the stars, the days turn dark.
Let the sun's heat burn up all sinners.

Only 144,00, all much afflicted, still standing.

Let the abyss open up and armies of locusts appear.
Let the abyss then turn to darkness.
Let the angels at Euphrates loose to kill, again, one-third of all men,
And turn that river [for a 2nd time] to blood.

They go, sound other trumpets off stage.
One-third the sun, moon, the stars, the days turn dark.
One-third of 144,000 on the replica earth fall.
The abyss opens up, locusts appear, the abyss goes dark, the Euphrates turns a deeper red.

Go, angels perverse, waken and kill those who are cursed.
Sound your trumpets and let men be destroyed by hailstones, one hundred pounds strong.
Sound your trumpets and let ALL the stars go out.
Turn the sun and the moon black four times more.
Loose earthquakes, swarms of locusts, storms.
Remove ALL mountains and islands, two times.
For good measure, turn all waters to blood again [the Euphrates for a third time].
Give even the olive trees and the lampstands power to turn the water to blood [again],
And call up more plagues. Marry the city of gold to me.
Go, angels worse, for I am Love.
Let men be eight times more wiped out, harvested.
Go, Go. Get out.

They go. They return.



The harvest is all in.

Satan has climaxed—stands exhausted.
The miniature globe now has only fallen figures on it, and blood, and gore.


SATAN          To audience, as Satan.

God's new wrath, like His old, is not new dumb.
And as God in Revelations demonstrates, His wrath is never done.
God and Love and Satan are a guilty infinite fiction,
Wrought by man to aid him in his will to power and lust for murder and destruction.


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About the Author

Karen Ritenour is a writer and an author. Born in Ohio in 1959, she grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois, and moved to Oregon in the mid-1970s. She went to Oregon State University and graduated with honors and a Master of Literature. Ritenour wrote Donna Quixote of Our Post-Millennial American Empire (Publish America, December 2005, ISBN-13: 978-1424106868, 79 pages). The editorial review on Amazon.com states: "A modern adaptation of the Quixote story, Donna Quixote of Our Post-Millennial American Empire parodies our romantic ideas of the ideal woman and critically examines postmodern American life: the lower, middle, and upper classes, welfare reform, American imperialism, the new world order, modern romanticism, and so forth. In this modern mock epic adventure narrated by an Iraqi journalist (edited by an American), Donna Quixote and her servant, Chosan Patsy, make their way through postmodern America in an effort to banish war, famine, evil, and hate. One on her horse, the other on her mule, together they wander through the American landscape, attacking evil wherever it presents itself and leaving love and goodness in its place." Karen lives in the heart of Oregon's ruralness, near Corvallis. She has no phone or Internet connection outside of her local library. Her next book will be about American poverty, which she shares with millions.



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Published July 14, 2008