Liber Jonae CAPUT THREE Page PHE


I see in fog the place to which you head.
The spirits behind words materialize
But incompletely, in outline only,
And leave letters weak. Spell out the spell.

Go down to where your Nineveh awaits
And go to where the Tigris meets the Zab.
Go there and cry out to all who hear:
How much time is left to change your ways?
September, month nine, hath thirty days,
And thirty days hath the Ninevites yet
For Godhead's terms are thirty days net.

That's very catchy, said Marguerite.

No sooner had the fish spoken the words
Than all my objections vanished, like the dreams
That retreat each morn from the waking world,
Knowing that there is no place for their kind
In this new, harshly lit reality.
You talked me into it, I said to the fish.

Just as you will talk Nineveh into it.
Godhead's message is very convincing,
And, you will notice, easy to remember.

Okay, fish, after I recite the lines,
What then? When I hypnotize the masses,
What'll they do that'll make God smile?

Ah, Jonah, that's the beauty of the plan.
A series of complex computations
That weighted and sorted and correlated
Factors numbering in the many trillions
Has revealed a great opportunity,
A chance, a golden chance for a breakthrough.
Our analysis of the system pinpoints
A small weak spot, an Achilles heel,
For a swift, carefully targeted campaign.
We discovered an opening in the market
For the introduction of a new product
Whose time is ripe, whose season has come.
With your help the product sells like crazy.
Heavy consumer demand for the product
Kickstarts a huge economic boom.
Stocks and bonds surge up to record highs.
Nineveh rides a wave of prosperity
Into a fine, unlimited future
And all live happily ever after.

So what then are we actually selling?

Sackcloth. We will sell sackcloth, Jonah.
We sell sackcloth shirts, sackcloth trousers,
Sackcloth raincoats, skirts, blouses, kilts,
And a whole range of sackcloth accessories.
Our mergers and acquisitions division
Has slyly secured the entire production,
The entire output of the plantations,
Factories and sweatshops that we will require
To implement our assault on the market.
Toll-free numbers have been activated,
Distribution readied, software written,
Minimum wage labour employed and trained,
And even now in Gulf container ports
Cranes are easing the product onto dock.
If you can convince Nineveh it suffers
From a serious sackcloth deficiency,
Rest assured the Lord will provide the rest.

And with this the angel-fish flipped itself
Over the boat's side into the water.
And it was not, I noted, much of a flip,
Even for so small and inexperienced,
Even for so unathletic a fish.
The reason for this wasn't far from hand.
As fish and I conversed, I'd failed to bail,
Let saltwater sneak itself aboard.
The waves slapped, overlapped gunwhales now,
Came now laughing, spilling, pouring in.
In the next moment, with one soft gurgle
Like an infant's first pleased expression
Or suds competing for the queue to the drain
Or a symptom of a disorder of the lung,
My boat slid beneath the water's surface
And did swim off to dwell with the angels,
To descend fathoms beneath the apparent
Into the zones of tranquil reality,
To rest in peace on a convenient shoal,
Forever a hazard to navigation,
And to grow encrusted with jubilant barnacles
That will psalm the Lord with small pleas for food.
It left me behind it thrashing and splashing
And spitting saltwater mixed with curses.

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