Liber Jonae CAPUT FIVE Page MEM


Get real and relax. It never happens.

Thus, battered and limping and trailing blood,
My temples once again throbbing with pain,
Unvirgiled, naked, hope already gone,
I passed between Nineveh's open gates.
I cannot begin to describe the scene
That greeted my disbelieving perception.

Don't bother trying, said Marguerite.
I live here. For me it's second nature.

I say, rather, that you've become inured.
Wake up, Marguerite. Immersed in sleep,
You're unaware of those forces that rule
Your every movement, your every word.
Did you know that you sometimes hum a tune,
Short snatches of melody to yourself?

Not true, she replied. Not true at all.

Have you noticed, then, the slot machines,
The video poker and tarot games,
That line hallway, room and lobby walls
In all public buildings of any size?
Did you witness that stealthy invasion
That occupied with ease a sleeping town?
The concept was imported from Babylon
When taxpayers refused to fund the dole
Beyond current expenditures,
Forcing city fathers to tax the poor
In the form of numbers rackets legalized.
No poverty is so abject that,
For an infinitesimal chance at wealth,
It would not impoverish itself further.
Given all the evidence at hand that,
If luck exists, it exists not for them,
Why is ore of fairy gold such lure?
Only the wise question fortune closely,
Knowing in what little esteem the world
Holds any individual standing.
I was myself, of course, in no way wise.
The full nature of how weighted my odds,
How heavily handicapped my selections,
Had not yet made itself manifest.

But I sometimes buy lottery tickets!

None of us can withstand the number's spin.
Gambling's demand outpaces supply
And draws forth the products of its delusion
From the shadows that conceal incipience.
At first the machines were installed
Only in racetracks and large casinos,
Then came bars, banks and bus stations,
And now they are everywhere in Nineveh.
Empty floorspace is a thing of the past.
It's not just the rows of waiting slots;
Giant Keno grids have replaced windows
And other blank eye-level wallspace.
There are Lotto Babylon kiosks
Set up in all of the public places.
All the automated teller machines
Have been torn out of banks, replaced with slots.
Numerology has destroyed the minds
Of a generation who has come to think
Supernatural streams of numbers run,
Like underground rivers, beneath us.
Align yourself with their flow and win big!
This is your birthright, bred in your bones,
Born in a place named for the number nine.

Your parents believed in mystic properties
Attached to numbers, or so you informed me.
So what's so different here? she said.

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