Nor have I heard any of this before.
Tax accountants were next to meet problems:
Standard depreciation allowances
Pre-calculated for certain items,
Pencils and wire coathangers, notably,
Now diverged from observed replacement rates.
Zoo tigers brought forth stillborn cubs.
Archaic well-water, pure from creation,
Turned salt-brackish and clouded with silt.
Then newspaper daily horoscopes
Began to lose their usual accuracy,
Forcing astrologers to postulate
Fourteen extra planetary objects
In cold, dark Trans-Neptunian space.
To chart even an approximate future
Defied the capacity of computers
Of the current digital generation:
The combinations and permutations
Of new orbits with old, and new with new,
And old with old, forward and retrograde,
Epicycles upon epicycles,
Induced in more than one of their machines
Madness and breakdown, fits and convulsions.
The public fountains and the shaded benches
In the parklands and along boulevards
Became the roosts for grinning, rabid bats,
Which are far worse than pigeons for excrement,
Far worse than rats for constant chittering,
And who attack small children and seniors
Without the victim's least provocation.
These subtle signs were mostly overlooked
By an already distracted populace
Until divine ire increased its pressure.
Isolated events began to unite.
They knitted fingers together, clasped hands,
And hissed out seething rage as though one.
Rivers dwindled, forests withered away,
Pollution poisoned the air, sea and earth
And attendance at sports events fell off.
The arts were sterile, all the pastries stale,
And landscapes plundered of all their beauty.
Our enemies grew stronger and we weaker;
Our currency's once-strong value decreased
On each major foreign money market
Until you could buy more gold with a quart
Of a twice-used low-grade motor oil
Than with shopping carts stuffed with banknotes.
Unemployment grew and inflation soared
And the bank's prime interest lending rate
To its most creditworthy of customers
Increased to a level that stifled profits.
Distressed donkeys began to bray constantly.
All the economic indicators
Indicated an impending disaster
No human agency could ever avert
Without some celestial intercession.
Folk grew pessimistic and neurotic,
And the work force grew surly and restless,
And even bureaucrats were dissatisfied
With the government's clear mismanagement
Of its ill-conceived, half-baked programs.
They played at badminton on their lunch times,
In white shirt sleeves on the ministry lawns,
Swatting urgent memos, wadded up,
Back and forth over untrimmed hedges.
The time was over for stopgap measures;
Time was ripe for a prophet of the Lord
To appear with a solution to our problems,
And yet no prophet of the Lord appeared.
Consequently government officials
Decided it time that action were taken,
Time that the State Oracle were consulted.
And so the King in edict commanded
That the College of the Oracle be convened
And some kind of efficacious advice
Be wrung out of the defaulting deity.
Liber Jonae Contents