The fish is talkative, said Marguerite,
Almost as talkative as a damn parrot.
Not only that, he has similar style.
But do be careful, oh wise fisherman!
Inflected one way this spell I teach
Will release all who listen from the venom
Of the infamous black one-step viper,
From whose bite death is one step away.
One step, any direction, is all you get
Before the lethal mists overtake you.
You must articulate words very quickly
If you hope to gain any benefit.
Inflected in this way, the spell's effect
Will be, I admit, not always useful,
That viper still scarce in these districts.
Inflected another it perturbates
Planetary paths and disturbs the spheres
To produce on demand a solar eclipse.
This undeniably impressive trick
Is again, I grant, not always handy,
Unless captured by a stone age savage
Who thinks he knows cold how skies behave.
But if the spell's pronounced the proper way
It will operate in the manner described
And will produce absolute obediance
In fish or fowl, in angel, djinn or man.
And this is a state ever to be desired,
Achievement to which demagogues aspire,
A tyranny over nucleic acids
And domination over all creatures.
For this you must repeat my intonation.
Listen closely. I say it only once.
And when I'm done, Jonah, you're on your own.
Wait just one second, angel, I said.
You expect me to convert mighty Nineveh,
A large city which takes three days to cross
If you're reduced to using public transit,
All on my own, without budget, without guidance,
Without equipment and without backup?
And you've given me nothing, not a script,
Not a plan, not power to bring plague,
Nothing more in fact than certain phrasings.
You haven't even issued a firearm
Or stick that turns to snake or hides a blade
Or shoots out a noxious poison gas.
Where's my carte blanche, the one Moses had,
To kill stray Egyptians with impunity?
The slipshod nature of the operation
Does not inspire much confidence, fish.
When an angel commands a recitation,
As I do now, counting once, twice, thrice,
The wisest prophets will comply forthwith.
A complaint of inadequate coaching,
Of poor and infrequent supervision,
Or of an uncertain support and supply
Is sheer shirk of responsibility.
If you persist in such negativity
Strongly worded letters of reprimand
Shall be entered into your permanent file.
Do as you're told and tell them until done
That set sequence of words we've prepared.
Okay angel, I said, you're right, I'm wrong.
But surely there is some advice you can share.
The Godhead suggests organic gardening,
Whenever possible, for the righteous man.
It is less, really, a major commandment
And more an advisory for the faithful.
For example, in the gardens of paradise
We use bark mulch to keep down the weeds
That attempt to invade the flowerbeds
Reserved for God's elect, blossomed roses.
Such wrongdoers must perish, of course,
But spraying of herbicides is discouraged
Near palm trees laden with clustered dates.
Would you spread poison near the soft couches
Where the cleansed souls of the virtuous recline,
Expose suspected carcinogens
To all the bashful and dark-eyed maidens,
As pure and chaste as cloistered ostrich eggs?
Of course not: it's only common sense.
Other tips are posted on our website,
Such as never eat beans, raw or cooked,
Never sit down on quart milk cartons
Or draw cards to fill an inside straight.
Consult them later, when leisure permits.
Really all that you will need, guaranteed,
Is encapsulated in four brief lines.
Liber Jonae Contents