Death’s Door Martyr, Cassie Hottenstein

I am a vagabond waiting outside the pearly gates,
a rejected St. Peter on petra throne
passing judgement on all who enter—
ye are welcome;
me, not—

not until my time as chosen
expires, counting down the milliseconds
stretched too thin for astral measurements.

Press a silver dollar into my palm
until it melts, white hot;
ghosts have no use for
human currency, instead

hum a little hymn in purgatory’s queue
to drown out the elevator muzak,
its bell trembles; I
anticipate the chime

with surrendered breath,
a survivor with long tubes
threading lungs to air
and shoulder blades instead of wings.

Now serving lost soul number 666,
both sets of keys jingle on my ring,
Pluto clashing with YHWH in toothed metal,

yet gates left unlocked for all to pass peacefully through,
a choice for modern mortals—

I have no more need for afterlife,

a lackadaisical receptionist
bearing the upside-down scars
of earthen sanguinary folly
on temporal carcass

before I shake hands with
the Great Tetragrammaton

and shot out the airlock
into Nada.


Cassie Hottenstein has a BA in English and a minor in Creative Writing from the University of North Florida. Her poetry and stories have been published in such places as The Talon Review, Every Pigeon, Inklette, Solid Mercury, and the Tampa Review Online. She was a lead editor for the collection Exothorpe as well as an editor and researcher for Anyways, That’s My Story. She currently lives in the Boulder area, and her absolute favorite poet is E.E. Cummings.

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