Reading "Dante’s Inferno" on the Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by Sarah Browning

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


In Hell’s lowest circle, the Betrayers stand
half-submerged in icy waste, and frozen.

Archbishop Ruggieri locked Ugolino in a tower
with his four small sons and there they starved, the boys

calling to Ugolino for aid he could not give. Now
Ruggieri may not even cry, eyes so crusted with ice.

The children died first. The father watched.


Photo by Lynda Koolish

Photo by Lynda Koolish

Sarah Browning is Cofounder and Executive Director of Split This Rock: Poetry of Provocation & Witness, and an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007) and coeditor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004). With Don Share she edited a special Split This Rock issue of POETRY Magazine in March 2014. Sarah has received artist fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, a Creative Communities Initiative grant, and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. She co-hosts the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC.