Liber Jonae CAPUT FIVE Page VAU


You dispute the rule of law, oh parrot,
Due process and habeas corpus,
Innocent until proven guilty? she inquired.

It's left some standing far too tall.

But we're all too tall, said Marguerite,
To toys that rise but seven inches high.

I mean the height to which a giant grows,
The mean-eyed one that stares down on men
And carries clubs in case stares don't work.
The Nimrod gene, here, still runs true:
Many in this town are tall like that,
A trait that's best improved by guillotines
If set up in high traffic locations
To take a bit of trim from off the top
And bring back our average height to norm.
We'd give our sort a more uniform look,
A match for that to which man first stretched,
Or else force the tall to walk with stoops.
But such justice awaits apocalypse,
When the high are brought low and low high,
And this event is not the kind of thing
On which hopes of cognoscenti are pinned
Since history, if it goes there at all,
Goes slow, veers off in wrong directions,
And takes bad meanders along the way.
You might as well wait for the afterlife,
If you hold hope for level playing fields,
The day God again debabelizes towns
And sends around his spectral grenadiers
To lob explosives onto upper floors
Of all structures that exceed legal height.

Of what possible use is such a view?
Calm down, parrot. Seek self improvement.
It's what we do here to keep the peace.

The hearse driver helped me into the back.
He thanked Ig-Galla, god of rear doors,
Before he unlocked it and showed me inside.
And there, with some dismay, I saw a corpse.
This cadaver came without a casket,
Without any sign of cosmetic work
Performed to hide the stresses death had left.
A rope noose still looped the broken neck
And a twisted grimace still wracked its face.
It wasn't quite the reassuring sight
That promotes hope for rest in afterlife.
Climb in, said the driver. Don't worry.
This loved one isn't as large as some.
There's still plenty of room, space for two,
If the two lie still, stretched side by side.
Should the loved one slide, just shove him back.

Who's my bedmate here? I asked the man.
I've known many like this, cold and stiff,
But few less responsive, given a kiss.

Please don't annoy other passengers.
The left side is his, you stay on the right.
That loved one was only yesterday
An active participant in civic life,
Employed to verify property lines
In legal disputes that came before courts.
But last night he ran afoul the gallows,
And dropped plumb, perpendicular to earth.
He took a bribe, or so the story goes,
To move a line a little to one side.
For that the Inquisition strung him up.

The proof, I'd hope, was incontrovertible.
See how set now he sits in his mold?
It's far too late to commute this state.

Previous Page
Next Page

Previous Caput
Next Caput

Liber Jonae Contents