Hell, A Prose Poem by Peter Johnson




“If you want to understand the social and political history of modern man, study hell.”

~ Thomas Merton

It’s probably like the excitement of your first cigarette, but it lasts forever, that dizzying nausea — the Unknown: with imitation human heads on their buttocks, bats leaping from black books, dragon tails waving, monkey glands everywhere, hope dying slowly like a bad marriage, “I am nobody” the only conversation.

But then again the damned might be as unrecognizable and stupid as the living: men who use the same condom twice, women who let them, the degenerate who molested Spider-Man — everyone perpetually suing each other, holding hands in a circle whose rim clangs like a counterfeit coin.

But more likely it’s the general humiliation of being dead, realizing your own personal Beelzebub might be the least weird guy you know.
© 1997 by Peter Johnson. 

10 Neurotic Quotes

10 Neurotic Quotes









Mignon McLaughlin

(born 6 June 1913, died 20 December 1983)

I tell you this, and I tell you plain
What you have done, you will do again
You will bite your tongue, careful or not
Upon the already-bitten spot.


10 Neurotic Quotes

  1. Everybody can write; writers can’t do anything else.
  2. Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.
  3. Most sermons sound to me like commercials – but I can’t make out whether God is the Sponsor or the Product.
  4. We would all like a reputation for generosity and we’d all like to buy it cheap.
  5. When threatened, the first thing a democracy gives up is democracy.
  6. Neurotics are anxiety prone, accident prone, and often just prone.
  7. It took man thousands of years to put words down on paper, and his lawyers still wish he wouldn’t.
  8. No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you’ll see why.
  9. It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.
  10. A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.

McLaughlin was an American journalist and author. She wrote two volumes entitled The Neurotic’s Notebook and The Complete Neurotic’s Notebook . She became a journalist and write short stories for RedbookCosmopolitan, and other women’s magazines. She worked for Vogue in the 1940s, and was Copy Editor and Managing Editor of Glamour magazine in the 1960s and early 1970s.

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

The Writing Life …

Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s shit.

These are the things all the great philosophers

Just won’t tell you flat out about life. 

So you just keep moving, keep living, keep breathing

And you keep writing-creating because that’s what you do

And that’s who you are.

There are no magical voices to guide

You except your own.

Make it count.


~ R.M. Engelhardt

The Article

Article In The Times Union Newspaper on "The Resurrection Waltz" March 2013
Article In The Times Union Newspaper on “The Resurrection Waltz” March 2013

Read It Here:


I was born in a time when …













I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had had it — without knowing why. And since the human spirit naturally tends to make judgements based on feeling instead of reason, most of these young people chose Humanity to replace God. I, however, am the sort of person who is always on the fringe of what he belongs to, seeing not only the multitude he’s part of but also the wide-open spaces around it. That’s why I didn’t give up God as completely as they did, and I never accepted Humanity. I reasoned that God, while improbable, might exist, in which case he should be worshipped; whereas Humanity, being a mere biological idea and signifying nothing more than the animal species we belong to, was no more deserving of worship than any other animal species. The cult of Humanity, with its rites of Freedom and Equality, always struck me as a revival of those ancient cults in which gods were like animals or had animal heads.

And so, not knowing how to believe in God and unable to believe in an aggregate of animals, I, along with other people on the fringe, kept a distance from things, a distance commonly called Decadence. Decadence is the total loss of unconsciousness, which is the very basis of life. Could it think, the heart would stop beating.

For those few like me who live without knowing how to have life, what’s left but renunciation as our way and contemplation as our destiny? Not knowing nor able to know what religious life is, since faith isn’t acquired through reason, and unable to have faith in or even react to the abstract notion of man, we’re left with the aesthetic contemplation of life as our reason for having a soul. Impassive to the solemnity of any and all worlds, indifferent to the divine, and disdainers of what is human, we uselessly surrender ourselves to pointless sensations, cultivated in a refined Epicureanism, as befits our cerebral nerves.

Retaining from science only its fundamental precept — that everything is subject to fatal laws, which we cannot freely react to since the laws themselves determine all reactions — and seeing how this precept concurs with the more ancient one of the divine fatality of things, we abdicate from every effort like the weak-bodied from athletic endeavours, and we hunch over the book of sensations like scrupulous scholars of feeling.

Taking nothing seriously and recognizing our sensation as the only reality we have for certain, we take refuge there, exploring them like large unknown countries. And if we apply ourselves diligently not only to aesthetic contemplation but also to the expression of its methods and results, it’s because the poetry or prose we write — devoid of any desire to move anyone else’s will or to mould anyone’s understanding — is merely like when a reader reads out loud to fully objectify the subjective pleasure of reading.

We’re well aware that every creative work is imperfect and that our most dubious aesthetic contemplation will be the one whose object is what we write. But everything is imperfect. There’s no sunset so lovely it couldn’t be yet lovelier, no gentle breeze bringing us sleep that couldn’t bring a yet sounder sleep. And so, contemplators of statues and mountains alike, enjoying both books and the passing days, and dreaming all things so as to transform them into our own substance, we will also write down descriptions and analyses which, when they’re finished, will become extraneous things that we can enjoy as if they happened along one day.

This isn’t the viewpoint of pessimists like Vigny, for whom life was a prison in which he wove straw to keep busy and forget. To be a pessimist is to see everything tragically, an attitude that’s both excessive and uncomfortable. While it’s true that we ascribe no value to the work we produce and that we produce it to keep busy, we’re not like the prisoner who busily weaves straw to forget about his fate; we’re like the girl who embroiders pillows for no other reason than to keep busy.

I see life as a roadside inn where I have to stay until the coach from the abyss pulls up. I don’t know where it will take me, because I don’t know anything. I could see this inn as a prison, for I’m compelled to wait in it; I could see it as a social centre, for it’s here that I meet others. But I’m neither impatient nor common. I leave who will to stay shut up in their rooms, sprawled out on bed where they sleeplessly wait, and I leave who will to chat in the parlours, from where their songs and voices conveniently drift out here to me. I’m sitting at the door, feasting my eyes and ears on the colours and sounds of the landscape, and I softly sing — for myself alone — wispy songs I compose while waiting.

Night will fall on us all and the coach will pull up. I enjoy the breeze I’m given and the soul I was given to enjoy it with, and I no longer question or seek. If what I write in the book of travellers can, when read by others at some future date, also entertain them on their journey, then fine. If they don’t read it, or are not entertained, that’s fine too.

Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) – The Book of Disquiet



R.M. Engelhardt is an underground writer whose poetry and writing has been widely published in many online magazines as well as in print magazines over the last  20 years or so. He is the author of several books such as “The Last Cigarette, The Collected Poems Of R.M. Engelhardt” and many others and in style is comparable to such writers as Nick Tosches, Charles Bukowski, Pessoa and even a bit of the mystic and Rimbaud are thrown in as well. What speaks to you in his poems is the crafting of the ordinary and its beauty as well as the gritty, daily reality of life and living in the 21st century. Engelhardt’s poems in this book, ”The Resurrection Waltz” Engelhardt also speaks about the questions and the relevancy of poetry and the place of the poet in a technology driven future age where it seems that the poem and poetry has been forgotten and or has been left for dead (Saint Poem).
There is even a piece in here where the poet turns to the late musician Warren Zevon and a bottle of scotch for answers to some of life’s more romantic questions. Overall? I enjoyed this book quite a bit and am glad I bought it.

~ inthedancingwave (Barnes & Noble Customer Reviews)

 *Thank You! ~ R.M. Engelhardt