Dante’s Gate. (none fiction)

The following poem has purposely no specific form.
It is not an easy or comfortable read.
It is what it is.


Son taken from father
daughter taken from mother
brother taken from sister
family destroyed like many other.

Not too far really
but might as well be a million miles away.
There is no way back
for child, adult, doctor or lawyer.

Provision brought over to sustain life
and left at fortress door.
No chains or bars, but no escape
the only life – is a new one.

Marriage is allowed – but any child
is removed immediately, never to be
seen again, agony on agony –
in this endless pain, both physical and mental.

Dante’s gate is the point of entry, with no return
for these pitiful creatures, and is aptly named.
As they are directed through the dark tunnel,
all hope is truly abandoned.

The invincible German army, hell bent
on world domination, stopped three hundred
yards short of hell. This was their bridge too far.
No occupation here – their courage at last failed them.

What is the crime that warrants such
inhuman treatment? No crime at all,
just the misfortune to have the awful tag of
Leper attached to you.

This island place which housed those wretched souls,
living in these isolated conditions until the late fifties,
holds lepers no longer.
But its name will live forever –
The island of Spinalonga.


© gerry 2023
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You are right…a disturbing read. Great stuff Gerry.


Good reading, if a little bleak. I’ve been to Spinalonga, it was back in the 80’s. It was unsettling to walk the street and look across at Elounda on the mainland, only a short distance, but no way back. Lots of books have been written about the place. Thanks for the memory of my time on Crete.


As you say it is what it is, I hesitate to say I enjoyed this, but I did, a very strong and disturbing read but made me want to know more, and I shall certainly find out about the island of Spinalonga. Sue.


Yes I heard about that. This life is hell on earth. One man’s freedom is another man’s slavery. Just the way it is Gearoid…..

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