By Dr. John Telford

John-Telford-207x300Dante Andante,’ or

Dante Denied

My Mother Helen’s

Concept of Hell
In our lifetime journey’s journal,
Man’s un-Heavenly Inferno
May not be somewhere external.
Hell could truly be internal.
Though we tend toward errant turning,
And we’re slow to lesson-learning,
Yet we yearn to never burn in
Some place evil and Infernal—
And Hellaciously Eternal.
If there truly is a Hell, my late, sainted mother—who taught kindergarten in Detroit Public Schools for four decades—is in the opposite place.  However, despite being a devout Christian, Helen Telford always speculated that the exact locale of Hell isn’t external—off in the outer stratosphere somewhere, or far down deep in the earth’s bowels, as depicted in Dante’s Inferno.  Rather, my mother said that Hell could well exist in our own tortured psyches right here on the surface of bad old terra firma—and thus hopefully, not everlastingly.

On the other hand, the historic Florentine writer and poet Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) held that Hell is a fiery place deep underground where sinners go to suffer horribly when they die.   In Canto XX of his Inferno, Dante wrote that the false soothsayers, ‘educators,’ and scribes will have their heads twisted back-to-front by Satan so their bitter tears will wet the cleft of their buttocks.  If Dante’s fearsome dictum is real, the major local print and electronic ‘journalists’ who deliberately decline to tell the entire sordid story of the state’s 1999 Jim Crowist theft of Detroit and its public schools, plus its subsequent restoration of an emergency management law the voters rejected, have serious cause to be fearful.

Dante also wrote that the swindlers in public office, the crooked barristers and businessmen who betray their own people to enrich themselves, and any bribe-takers who go along with them and remain silent regarding their crimes will be prodded repeatedly into boiling tar by Satan’s fiendish imps wielding pitchforks.  Were this promise of retributive agony in boiling tar also to be real, I submit that folks like Governor Snyder, State Attorney General Schuette, recent U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevin Orr, DPS and recent Flint EM Darnell Early, Judge Stephen Rhodes, et al., plus those whom I call the ‘corporate crocodiles,’ the ‘gangster banksters,’ and again the moguls of the major media have plenty to worry about, as well (not to mention George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, that mendacious pair of treasonous war criminals whose illegal takeover of Iraq in 2004 has engendered current [and will engender future] massacres in the Middle East and elsewhere).

In Dante’s depiction of Hell, crimes like the Governor’s creation of the failed EAA (Educational ‘Apartheid’ Authority) and his devious Old Co/New Co plan for DPS would be cause for the boiling-oil penalty to be invoked when he makes his transition into the nether world.   Among other horrors, that disenfranchising and undemocratic plan allows traditional school districts like DPS to contract out educational services and my onetime position of superintendent to another ‘person’ or to forprofit education management companies.  It also further harms our schoolchildren by exempting the school district’s managers from hiring qualified teachers and administrators.

And within Dante’s storied inferno, what do you think would happen to Snyder, Orr, Earley, and others who have cooperated in their crimes involving Michigan citizens’ human right to clean and affordable water?   Whether the version of the punishments be Dante’s or my mother’s, I personally can’t understand how any of them can sleep at night–or how they can even be able to face themselves in the mirror.

Dr. John Telford is a Detroit educator and poet whose most recent book is a biography of the path-breaking Miller and Pershing coach Will Robinson.  The book is available on by typing in Dr. John Telford or by direct order from the author at (313) 460-8272 or via email at  Tapes of Dr. Telford’s shows on WCHBNewsTalk1200 and of his TV appearances can be accessed on his website,