Dante, Inferno Canto 25 (2nd part)

My master said:

—Cacus this is, son of Vulcan, who lived in a cave set into the Aventine Hill,
And a devourer of human flesh, call him a cannibal, I don’t know,
Nailing the heads of victims to the doors of his cave.
He is not with his brothers who guard the first round of the Seventh circle,
Because he stole.
He stole the cattle Hercules stole from Geryon,
Leading the cattle backward to disguise their path.
Taking a thief to catch a thief,
The strongman’s club came down a hundred times,
Mashing to pulp the body,
The body having felt, I guess, ten at the most,

While my companion spoke, the centaur rushed past,
Nowhere to nowhere, how much of nothing is nothing, how futile,
The hellish merry-go-round, the hellish Petri dish.

Below us, three new souls crept up,

—You, who are you two there?

At that, Virgil stopped his tale
And we gave heed to them alone.
I knew none of them, and yet it happened
– As often happens by some chance-
That one had cause to speak another’s name,
Asking: ‘What’s become of …?’
Came across the air the name: ‘Cianfa’

And then it came to me.
Sssh, these I know.

Dear reader, another chance for surreality to trapeze in through the door,
Carrying its burden of unnatural, how we slither down the watches of Dali,
How much we have to fight distorting perspective,
An olive reptile with six legs propelled itself along,
Like a kimodo dragon, or something,
Some reptilian from Alien Planet 9

Fastened itself to him, one of the sinners,
Grabbed his belly with its middle claws,
Held then, with its forepaws, back his arms,
Stretched hind feet down the other’s thighs,
Thrusting its tail between them and curled it up behind, above the buttocks.
And began to bite him on both cheeks.
At which, a transformation began.

Clasping copula clinging ivy in flux fixed itself with darkest green,
Vinous tendrils of tan and olivine
Commingled, their colours licking into paper a flame running across parchment,
The brownish chrysolite, the liquid travel of scorch
They were fusing together, as if made of molten wax, mixing their colors,
Thigh calves haunches merged, coalesced,
Conflated cranium united, two sets of features blending,
Both lost into a single face.

—Agnello, you are lost.

They said, bitterly, but did nothing,
Nothing they could do.

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