Dante’s Infernet

By: Jamie Brew


When, in the course of browsing, I grew bored
and clicked one link too many waywardly,
I stumbled on the Internet’s great fjord

by which all information flows to sea.
Concluding that I could not cross, I went
to double back, but found in front of me

a blinding, pixelated silhouette!
It took some time to load, but finished soon,
whereon with coarse and raspy voice, it set

itself to song, and eulogized the moon.
“We like the moon coz it is close to us,”
it sang, and I recalled this pair of loons,

the Spongmonkeys, who caused such joyful fuss
in that archaic year, two thousand three.
Stumbling o’er my words, I bade them cease

their bawdy instrumental revelry
and, awestruck, asked the beings to disclose
to me their actual identity:

“Are you then they? The mascots of Quiznos
who ruled the Internet in days of yore?
O spirits, pray, reveal yourselves as those

prosimians whom all the world adored!”
The singers now acknowledged me and spoke:
“Indeed we are, but who are you, and wherefore

have you traveled out so far, strange bloke?”
So I confessed to them that I was lost,
and must have come here by some wrong keystroke.

“Well, we can guide you home, and at no cost,”
intoned the primates cheerily, “Obey
our words, have faith, and follow us across

a bleak hellscape. It is the only way.”


I can but humbly ask you to accept
the sequence of events I now relate.
Down a ridge, with Spongmonkeys, I crept;

and at the base, there stood a mighty gate.
Upon its arch, it bore a warning sign
denoting contents inappropriate

for mortal apprehension such as mine.
But blithely I ignored it, clicking on
the button indicating “I’m divine”

and passing through, I came upon
a wide expanse, the realm of viral limbo,
whose denizens my hosts described anon:

“Residing here are those whose videos,
though worthy, chanced to live before the birth
of YouTube; so they have become mere sideshows;

prematurity meant unfair dearth
in viewership. We count ourselves among
such luckless memes, the has-beens of the earth.”

So they explained, and led me through the throngs,
who wailed and moaned, complaining of a major
slight against their souls, a slight that stung

and paralyzed their online selves. “Our pages
are ignored!” cried one, and cried another:
“Badger badger badger badger badger.”

As we trekked on, my sight began to blur.


There, like a lightning-ravaged bosque, before
us lay a broken webpage, badly scarred
by server error number 404.

And though a posted message gave its word
that admin personnel had been deployed
to remedy the problem, it was hard

for those poor wretches bound within the void
to think that this time it would tell the truth;
so long with their quick patience had it toyed.

“Found here are souls of spammers most uncouth
who hawked their hollow links ad nauseam.
Condemned are they to fates that dwarf the ruthless

hardships down in hell; it’s tedium
that makes up their unenviable lot.
They waste away down here, awash in scum

of their creation, forced to read through what
false ads they wrote, and click on them, and hope
that they will lead to happiness, and not

to viruses and bugs and other creeps
infesting the wide, digital domain.
But pity not these evil misanthropes,

for they have brought upon themselves this pain.”


Within the central circle of the site,
amid a swath of rotten data, here
I saw a pit devoid of any light.

My guides, inviting me to lend an ear,
began a rambling, seething diatribe
against the miscreants imprisoned there.

“Dislikers, heathen sinners of YouTube,
are guilty of that most abhorrent crime,
one even worse than clicking ‘Unsubscribe,’

or sullying the comments with their grimy
trollish filth. These fiends have had the nerve
to hate on videos; they’ve spent their time

deriding others’ work, therefore they serve
out sentences made by their peers to fit
the felony. For instance, NaStYcUrVe

decreed that all who disliked ‘Charlie Bit
My Finger’ should, by way of punishment,
see Charlie bite and gnaw upon their digits

for eternity; these souls in torment
writhing, seized by pure, untrammeled hate.
Or take another righteous comment

made by BALLERina518,
who saw that sixty people had disliked
a video of kittens lying prostrate

on a dog, and wished a thousand spikes
would come and run those cretins through
who dared disparage such cute, furry tykes.

And as they wish, so it is done unto
these hordes of villains.” Now I gauged
the Spongmonkeys were through; indeed, the two

told me I could return to my homepage.
But, strange, I found that I’d quite lost the will
to stop observing sinners in their rage.

I chose to stay; I had some time to kill.


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