You offended him in some way? she inquired.

If bad things should happen to good people
Who else but Godhead should shoulder the blame?
He might pretend it's all part of a plan,
And whatever happens, happens for best,
But deal with him once, you know how he works.
It isn't a plan that keeps things intact
But long-nursed grudges that plot their revenge.
Godhead hides and smolders underground.
He counts and re-counts age-old resentments,
Awaits a chance no matter how slim
To mete out vengeance for honest mistakes.
That omnipotent brute took offense
After one business deal went sour,
Due, I should add, to his own bad judgment,
And transformed me into my present shape.
The nature of that deal, what went wrong,
Is a long, twisted tale, and, in the end,
Of no concern to anyone but me,
To me and possibly a few close friends,
To me and small numbers of Ninevites
Who suffered divine collateral damage,
To me and that handful of researchers
Working in self-imposed isolation
In locations scattered across creation
On the long range effect of God's fury.
I've seen a few articles, here and there,
That specialist journals will sometimes run,
That might seem to bear on my current plight.
Radiation will rarely work well
But some success with herbal treatments
Was seen in rodents found nesting in labs...

I think, she observed, that there is no way
To stop you from telling your tale short of...

Short of what? But let us not consider
All of the various possibilities,
Which, I should add, I could easily do,
And perhaps I should do, notwithstanding
The narrative that awaits me just offstage.
I could generate all the many options,
Just march through them quickly once or twice,
I know already which to mention first,
The trick, you see, is knowing where to stop.

A compulsive talker? she said. Talk, then,
And until I have become entirely bored
I will try my best, oh parrot, to listen.

But don't call me parrot. Call me Jonah,
For so my parents, the poor fools, named me,
Believing it somehow a lucky name.
They were devotees of numerology
And churned out extensive calculations
To ensure that my luck was not impeded
By badly weighted consonants, by vowels
Divisible by five, by seven, by twelve,
By hidden sums that lacked quadratic roots
Or spun off into continued fractions.
But luck was against me from the very start,
Result, perhaps, of miscalculation
Or exotic algebraic concepts
Employed despite lack of rigorous proof
And which, in fact, have no other virtue
Beyond a scant, recondite elegance;
That is, they're beautiful but always false.
They sketched out treacherous, curvacious paths
That ever after led my life astray.

I think I'll name you Twinky, said she.
I'll cover that socket with an eyepatch
And set you up next to Barbie and Ken.

The chances are that our names mean nothing,
With no impact on how events unfold,
Too soft, too formless to injure much,
To kill or maim a foe, to dent fenders,
To make the slightest nick in stainless skies.
And there's no ink indelible enough
To make signatures stick on covenants
After the hand that wrought them rots away
Or paper that took them turns to dust.
A name, even spoken slowly or spelled,
Is understood by neither ants nor gods.
It's only noise that dwells in ear canals,
That reverberates, echoes there awhile,
Softly repeating first detonation
Yet never achieving denotation.
It does its best to make itself essence
And style itself a body's overlord
And gather up rich possessions for itself
Should any such be left lying around
And unattended by some other name,
But time comes when proud sounds must fade,
Dissolve, vanish into background noise,
And leave numbers free to fend for themselves
And build their sums to transfinite heights
Without any human hindrance or let.
True numbers, I say, can't be known.
They come from God, then back to God go
Without taking stop in human locales.
Those numbers we use are man-made thoughts,
All imperfect, fake, flawed through and through,
All false, all except log nine cubed,
True just enough to make pedants weep.

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