I believe I recall a mention made
That some tried to avert this grim fate.
Efforts were made to scotch the holy war
Long before it got so out of hand.
But these efforts must have come too late.
Nineveh had reached prime, and rot was next.
First handfuls, later hordes, turned aside
From wealth's pursuit to put their questing trust
In hands of the born again mystagogues,
Glib and smooth-talking, out for a buck,
Who came from nowhere to supply demand.
Dhul-Nun was one such, the worst of all.
He came into Nineveh and started to talk
And once his seed spilled on a fertile ground
It took root and grew, an invasive vine.
It spread through town like the morning glory,
Entwined itself around companion plants
In so tight an embrace it strangled life
And redecorated gardens it found
Until they grew with uniform bloom.
And what happened to Dhul-Nun in the end?
No one knows, he said. He disappeared.
But holy war continued without pause
Bringing his good news to all the nations.
Large portions of once-civilized realms
Have been thereby returned to desert.
I've inside information on the man
That doesn't quite jibe with what you've described.
I have formed a far different impression
And believe you err on many key points
And give distorted truth on many more.
But it's what I remember, not what was.
If we knew now what we one day will
Then we'd surely attend more to what is.
Today's wisdom is tomorrow's negligence,
Though, I must say, the opposite too is true,
Tomorrow's wisdom is today's negligence.
Have you heard, I then asked, of a parrot,
An electric parrot of the same era?
You speak, I think, of that sacred relic
Venerated still by the Holy War.
It first enters historical records
At around the time that the prophet flourished
At a murder crime scene in Assyria,
The grisly aftermath to a bloodbath.
A couple, man and woman, were found dead
In a small one bedroom apartment.
The corpses had been hacked and mutilated,
Organs had been removed, possibly eaten,
And wallpapered walls were splattered with gore,
And pools of clotting blood covered carpets.
Despite this no tracks, no footprints,
No fingerprints were anywhere found.
Baffled homicide investigators
Could find no motive and no suspect,
And yet accident seemed so unlikely.
Could two persons, first one, then the next,
Stub a toe, stumble, and then end up
Falling repeatedly on a sharp object
Until disemboweled and flayed to shreds,
Hacked up and possibly partly eaten?
No, that didn't seem to explain things.
Although homicide investigators
Are predisposed to suspect homicide,
They made attempt to keep an open mind.
Was this crime, in fact, a double murder,
Or was it rather murder suicide,
In that order, or suicide murder,
Or even perhaps double suicide,
The end to some strange, tragic romance?
At thought of this last possibility
Detectives only shook their heads and wept
At all the heartrending pathos invoked,
Taking care not to contaminate
With stray tears the crime scene underfoot.
But if, as seemed likely, double murder,
Were they then looking for a double culprit,
Twins or siblings or two perfect strangers?
If so, both had used the same weapon,
A toy bird found abandoned at the scene,
Plastic beaks smeared over with dried blood.
They bagged and tagged this bird as evidence,
A prosecution exhibit at trial
Should ever they happen track down and trap
The perpetrator of such a grave offense.
The bird, they planned, would stand witness,
A mute, blood-caked appeal to jurymen
To hang the fiend who'd so pervert a toy.
That day, they trusted, would surely come.
Sins like this cannot go unpunished:
They're predestined to draw retaliation,
Bred like moths to snuff themselves in flame.
And darkness, by nature, seeks to draw sight,
To highlight the lines of decomposed flanks,
To show just a glimpse of its flaking hide.
Devils, sly though they are, leave debris,
Disturb dust, drop fibres, leak semen,
Litter the letters that spell their true names.
And Nineveh, foul cesspool that it is,
Has so much darkness its pavements are slimed,
Clues drift hip deep by piss-stained walls,
And misted evidence discolours air.
If not for guilt loudly spewing out guts
Into each gutter, each cul de sac,
The native background noise of that town
Would not exceed those mumbled confessions
That insects make when dragging broken wings.
Liber Jonae Contents