A stroke of good luck, said Marguerite.
And yet, surely, he doesn't need them all.
Judgment Day will drag on for eons
If every Ninevite now alive
Must file in to where the accused will stand,
Each just to repeat the same tired tale.
God will need to stop the sun, jam its gears,
As once he did outside Jericho,
To make sure there's time enough for all,
For all to speak a piece and shamble off.
It won't matter how long a day drags,
Lunch recess is still but half an hour.
Bow your head, Marguerite. Let us pray.
What? Now? Don't we need to get contrite?
That state's waived for prophets and escorts.
Just bow your head, girl, I'll do the rest.
I'm not closing my eyes, if that's your plan.
Allow me, Lord, to make one suggestion
Vis-a-vis the witness of Ninevites.
Why not get them all to speak at once?
These thousands could, if coached, raise their song
With one vast sound to fill heaven's vault.
Together they'd give the trump such roar
That only music buffs would ever note
If some voices were gone and didn't add
A decibel or two to the final sum.
And who else would know if some weren't kept,
Even if the truth came arranged in parts,
Soprano, alto, baritone, bass,
And even if, for nuanced points of view,
They varied themes or gave witness in fugue.
To kill a few now won't harm the case
For which all have sacrificed so much
And might even speed the proceedings up.
And why reward any testimony?
It smacks of those experts called to oath
Who slant facts toward he who paid most.
Remember, parrot, whom you address here.
At least, oh Lord, withold some of their perqs.
There are those who dwell in proud Nineveh
To whom Godhead should deny his grace,
Disturb the ease with which their world is worn.
Drive these worms, oh Lord, from paradise.
Rip open their cocoons and sleeping bags.
Raze the places plump pigeons take roost,
Haul off to the dump that plush cushion
On which a fat ass so aptly fits,
Loosen snug warmth, unsettle smug style,
And yank up carpets and turn down heat.
Send them, oh Lord, boils and running sores,
Interpolate ulcers between skin and air,
Inflict wounds on flesh, gangrene on wounds,
Until they no longer abide the wind
Or light of day or slide of lover's touch
And retreat, urged by lashing scourges,
Into the acid bath that gave them birth.
And yes, I know what's said, that these souls
Have gone astray because of circumstance,
A faulty upbringing, lack of education,
Bad brain chemistry, poor self esteem,
Genetics that made them come out human
Instead of slime as Godhead intended,
Instead of abortions their mothers preferred,
Not the right parents, not the right friends,
Not enough love and not enough jobs,
Not enough dole or Vitamin A
And not enough booze to blot out life.
Show compassion, they say. Give them a break.
They're just distracted and unable to cope.
Reduced sentence or two weeks probation
Or fifteen minutes of community work
Is more than enough for a tenth offense,
It's not their fault alone, we're all to blame;
All of us are complicit all of the time,
All except me, for I wasn't in town,
Not around during their formative years,
Wasn't here to scotch these vipers young,
Or crush their skulls before fangs grew in
Or set out poison before they could mate.
Smite them, I say. Pull not thy punches,
Stay not thy hand, saturate targets
With hard, definitive, and repeated strikes
Until the air is rent with screams and shrieks.
Banish all impulse to show them mercy.
Keep steady thy finger, squeeze the trigger,
And strafe until thy magazine's emptied.
I ask only, Lord, to direct thy fire.
I possess a list, yes, a lengthy list,
Of all those I'd consign bare-buttocked
To splintered benches, birdshit encrusted,
Still sticky with rancid hotdog fat
And spills from toppled over plastic cups.
For each name on my list a seat's reserved
In those bleachers that ring infernal pits.
Let them observe the vacuity up close.
Let them suffer eternal intermission,
Oversee overnight test patterns,
Let them await an event, anything,
And even verse would not be unwelcome
To those my lengthy curse enumerates.
Liber Jonae Contents