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By Mary Karr

The Devil’s tour of hell did not include   

a factory line where molten lead   

spilled into mouths held wide,


no electric drill spiraling screws

into hands and feet, nor giant pliers   

to lower you into simmering vats.


Instead, a circle of light

opened on your stuffed armchair,

whose chintz orchids did not boil and change,


and the Devil adjusted   

your new spiked antennae

almost delicately, with claws curled


and lacquered black, before he spread   

his leather wings to leap   

into the acid-green sky.


So your head became a tv hull,

a gargoyle mirror. Your doppelganger   

sloppy at the mouth


and swollen at the joints   

enacted your days in sinuous   

slow motion, your lines delivered


with a mocking sneer. Sometimes   

the frame froze, reversed, began   

again: the red eyes of a friend


you cursed, your girl child cowered   

behind the drapes, parents alive again   

and puzzled by this new form. That’s why


you clawed your way back to this life.


Mary Karr, “All This and More” from The Devil's Tour. Copyright © 1993 by Mary Karr. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Devil's Tour (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1993)

  • Living
  • Religion

Poet Bio

Mary Karr
Mary Karr was born in Groves, Texas. She attended Macalester College and, after taking time off to travel and become involved in the anti-apartheid movement, earned an M.F.A. from Goddard College. She has taught at Tufts University, Emerson College, Harvard University and Sarah Lawrence College, as well as Syracuse University, where she is currently on the faculty. Karr’s poetry and prose frequently include autobiographical elements, including her hardscrabble childhood, teenage drug-use, failed marriage and adult alcoholism, as well as her subsequent recovery and conversion to Catholicism.

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