Paid Late or Never

“The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists—that is why they invented hell.”
Bertrand Russell
We sober suits,
who take our pleasure, we invented hell; because good conscience
is our treasure, we invented hell.
Since we don’t like
to call it cruelty, just morality, to even up
our moral ledger, we invented hell.
For fear the latest
fashion does not mean that we are better, lest down-and-out
resemble leisure, we invented hell.
We hate to call
mere carelessness what wickedness we see; preferring sinner
to transgressor, we invented hell.  
Blame cast on women
is that they’re enticing, that’s their fault; because they’re such
laid-back aggressors, we invented hell.
Anger is
the easy thing to feel about an addict; as pity drops
too slow to measure, we invented hell.
As there’s no profit
in my plight, nor Bill’s predicament—love’s wounds, old debt,
paid late or never—we invented hell.


William Dennis has been attempting ghazal for sixteen years, as a way of engaging with great writers and the soul of the East.  In turn, he feels it fitting that his own cultural heritage be injected into the mix, making ghazal universal in practice as well as in principle.  As well as previous publication in The Ghazal Page, his ghazal have appeared recently in CONTEMPORARY GHAZALS, R.W. Watkins, editor.