Liber Jonae CAPUT ONE Page VAU


I slept standing up, legs locked akimbo,
Regenerating in standby mode.
My dreams, for most part, weren't noteworthy,
Except for one prescient dream that came
Shortly before my chance to make escape.
Perhaps this dream foretold the future,
And perhaps not, perhaps it was pretense,
Mock prescience sent to goad and confuse;
It was dislikeable enough to be either.
I dreamt of myself, as always my habit,
Not as I once was and not as I am,
But fully, finally evaporated,
As a mere shade of my former fine self,
For this was afterlife, the hereafter,
The nethermost netherworld herein,
The place some call Sheol, some Hell,
And some Hades, easily recognized
By those who have spent any time at all
Sampling the charms of its rugged landscapes,
Its crags and chasms, its alpine vistas.
It's not as bad as many might have thought.
Much is made of torments suffered in Hell
By souls consigned to damnation and flames,
But this is all calumny, falsehood,
Malicious lies designed to discredit,
Spread around perhaps by jealous rivals.
There's no tormented souls, and no flames.
Heavy traffic has had some impact,
Brought more crowds, more noise, more litter,
And put under construction vacant lots
That once were just wind-haunted wilderness,
But overall the place is still unspoilt,
Still offers a relaxing holiday,
And timeshare condos, I understand,
Can still be had at bargain basement rates.
There are many mansions in this resort
With private rooms booked and prepared for guests
Where each is sent to meet his just reward.
The place assigned fits you like a glove,
The perfect match, the right microclimate,
The situation best suited for each.
And my own place in Hell I knew at once,
The same moment I saw it introduced,
A hospital bed with morphine drip,
With eager half-clad nurses on hand
To fetch me snacks and drinks around the clock,
To gush praises as if I'd really done
All of those deeds that I'd left half done
Or undone or never even considered,
For my own unreconstructed view is this:
An undeserved praise is solid profit,
All the more so if it comes unsummoned,
Achieved without the work of prior boast.
Just usher me in and pop me in place.

I grew fond, very fond of that room,
So fond indeed I almost threw fits
When someone came by and spake a name
Meant to compel strict cooperation
From all local or year-round residents.
I won't repeat the name, now or ever.
In Hell the unanswered receives reply
In that season fatted cattle are slain,
At slaughter time when roadside ditches
Fill up, flood and spill over with blood.
Thus the tourists flock there then in droves,
And all will come armed with burning questions
For which only the dead, prophets by choice,
Can satisfy with unadulterated truth.
This tourist who'd conjured my attention
Followed up with queries designed, it seemed,
To chart the course future events would take.
After brief confusion we worked it out,
That I'd predeceased him, I dead, he not,
By countless years, by half an epoch at least,
And was thus unlikely to give much help.
It's true, of course, that my visions still came,
But not the sort you'd share with fellow man,
And not the sort that holds out much hope.
Before he turned away to rush along
To attempt interrogation elsewhere,
To find seers who work at closer range,
I brought up a few questions of my own
On futures my death had left curtained off.

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