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Hell's Gate

Updated on April 21, 2014

By: Wayne Brown

Tumbleweeds rolling nowhere across a wind-swept plain

Days and days of dust; not one drop of precious rain

Heat beats down from a china-blue sky devoid of cloud

All is barren to the sun in this land; no shelter shroud

A quiet solitude rules the whole of the hot, dry, desert air

No movement, no sound, could anything be living there?

No shade, no water, no plants on which one can feed

How can things survive, even a rattlesnake or the centipede?

Is this the lonesome road that leads to a devil’s paradise in hell?

Does it just get worse as one goes further down this trail?

The surroundings mark the truth, there can be no turn around

One who follows this lonely path too far can only be hell-bound

Night falls and with it blindness; I have a thirst I cannot quench

The desert wind begins to stir about; upon it rides a stench

The smell of rotting flesh; of mankind long since from this life past

There by that pile of rocks lays a man who has breathed his last

Coming closer I see his face; the ravages of the desert in full array

The buzzards and the coyotes have been here each dining on the prey

There’s not much left to bury; the human in him is long, long gone

And I have not the strength to bury him; I must struggle to move on

Staring across a moonscape horizon as the morning sun returns

I see an endless land ahead; no choices, no hills, no turns

It looks the same in all directions; one’s choices are very clear

There is no reason to go there or there; no reason to stay here

Looks like it won’t be long until the desert will have its say

My lips are cracked; my tongue is swollen; I won’t last the day

Soon the buzzards and coyotes will over my carcass fight

And I’ll join that poor soul of man I came across before daylight

My desert’s fate comes closer with each, slow, weakening step

No one will come to my aid; not a soul for miles to lend help

But I’ll not give in to death just yet; maybe further up this trail

Where I can draw that one last breath outside the gates of hell

By that pile of rocks over there, a sparkling pool of water floats

It beckons to come and drink; wash the dust from my throat

If it really is there in this God-forsaken, hellish, land of waste

Bet that I’ll drink my fill and spit the rest into the devil’s face

And from the wretched dream I suddenly am wide awake

Exhilaration and relief fill me; my soul, the devil will not take

A vivid dream driven by the excesses of life’s long trail

One last chance to stand and gaze upon the gates of hell

A love long lost; only the memories of her presence remain

Even that was not enough to wash out whiskey’s stain

Remembering her now, my heart beats fast; blood runs cold

Deep down I know the Devil has traded his whiskey for my soul

©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.

9 June 2012


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    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @Dim Flaxenwick...Thank you...I hope you will share it! WB

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 5 years ago from Great Britain

      Incredible descriptive verse.

      Wonderful story behind it too.

      I can´t praise this poem enough so I´ll share , if you don´t mind.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @Vincent Moore...Yes, more like the epiphany of a man waking from a bad dream coming to the realization that elements of the dream were true as his love of whiskey had destroyed his relationship and traded his soul to the devil. The dream might represent what is to come for him. Thanks much my friend. WB

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      Vincent Moore 5 years ago

      I felt the heat, the sun burning my skin as I walked and then crawled with not a water hole in sight. My throat parched like the desert itself. My brain shrinking and causing me to see visions of angels wings spread and guiding me to a safer place. Yet I also see the snake twisting and turning towards my soul the serpent of evil who wants to stake his claim and eat me whole.

      Then like a flash and fire from Hell, I awaken from this HOT nightmare and find myself in a cold shower and Bud sitting near. Hallelujah, I'm saved. Great scribe my poetic friend, I felt every ray of that intense sun and desert heat. Now I take a gulp of my cold Bud beer.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @Dusty 50....Thank you, sir. This dry trek turned out to be a thirst for lost love which was the result of a long traded soul for whiskey to the Devil...kind of complicated, huh? WB

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      Dusty 50 5 years ago

      Wayne, olds son, you drug out a picture from your mind and skillfully as ever, painted a dry throat that seems to me a feller just about has had to have had be it 4 hours or days to paint so well, the picture of dried out, brownie like portions, curled up is common sight here in tank bottoms more than as far as you can see, but I have been to the panhandle and seen larger cases than here.

      That's where I start to ramble, reckon this time I'll try shutting up and give due kudos along with all votes up maybe I'll punch funny for the sheer fun of it,

      Thanks for the fine read,



    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @teaches12345...Yes, good thing it was just a dream though there is a reality which is obvious at the end. Thanks much for the comments and the read! WB

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      True portrayal of a cowboy's defiant stand against the gates of hell! It's what makes men men. Great read for me today.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @A.A. Zavala...Sorry about that, Augustine! Guess that's a compliment though! LOL! Thanks much! WB

      @breakfastpop...Thank you...glad it was only a dream for this guy, otherwise...toast! WB

      @Gypsy Rose Lee...Thank you. I like the line "no reason to go there and no reason to stay here". WB

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      WOW Voted up and awesome. Brought pictures to the mind of those scenes in movies where someone is crawling in the desert and the vulture is following. Love this line -

      Deep down I know the Devil has traded his whiskey for my soul

      Fantastic and passing it on.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      Have to say I had lunch with a couple last week that made me feel that I was in Hell's Gate. I love your poetry. Up in awesome!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

      Parchness. Thirst, extremem thirst is painful. Dying form it must be agonizing. Just reading this gave me the cottonmouth, going to get some tea...

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @writer20...Thanks so much. Have to try to get the traffic back up a bit...been most spam as of late. Hope I didn't tire you too much with that journey! LOL! WB

      @billybuc...Thank you are too kind. North Dakota does have its moments! WB

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      With all due respect to Paula, it is called North Dakota. LOL....great piece of writing my friend. You are the master of descriptions.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Wayne, you're poem is great. I felt I was trudging along with you through that dead land.

      Voted up and awesome, Joyce.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @rahul0324...Thank You! WB

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India


    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      @fpherj48...Ha Ha! Been there myself and seen it first-hand! LOL! Glad I could help you with the brain stretches! WB

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Wayne...As always, a wonderful piece. I should remember to thank you for the brain aerobics and afternoon stretches. Gets all the cylanders movin.

      For a few seconds, I had this passing image that I'd been to Hell's gate.....I spent a couple of weeks there with my sister. I think she called it, "Oklahoma." lol