You live in a artificial landscape,
One constructed from a numeric theory.
Enneads permeate the townsite,
Punctuate speech and regulate thought.
Nines with nines intertwine, pervade space,
Ooze from pores, grease the walls and stain skin.
Nines like dust settle down on doorknobs,
Window sills, table cloths and floor mats,
Hang in air, sting the eyes and clog drains.
And it is not by accident, but by design
That nines cluster within the city walls.
I've seen the nines and how they came to be,
For yes, Nineveh's named for number nine,
And Nimrod her King changed name to match
When God induced his continental drift
And isolated the local dialect
By shifting nasals back, off from the lip.
I don't quite follow, said Marguerite.
How, bird, does any of this relate?
You can't present the entire universe
In one sentence and not leave out parts.
How, a sage asks, would two things relate
And why, even, would they ever choose to?
And that, most likely, was the starting point
I should have used when first I opened my beak.
It's too late now, though, we're underway.
Now we're already here, inside the town,
Already knee-deep in leech-like nines,
Not, I've said, by accident: this was meant.
Nineveh was the first city to be built
According to Pythagorean principles,
So that all the scaling, distances, measures
And proportions of the structures strictly relate
To the musical intervals and harmonies.
No sooner had this idea occured to them
Then did all the Assyrians go to work
With an enthusiasm distressing to behold.
They donned greasy aprons, mounted scaffolds
With tape measures and hammers and sliderules
And blueprints dotted with masonic glyphs.
And they promptly erected their crazed designs:
Towers, temples, taverns and townhouses,
Cavernous theatres, black tabernacles,
Tasteless porcelain Chineses pagodas
An incredible nine hundred cubits high,
The bejewelled mechanical cacti with arms
Moved by creaking, steam-driven escapements
To leads crowds in prayer by semaphore,
Stone sphinxes and alabaster gryphons,
Botannical gardens twelve acres square
Of only pineapples and artichokes,
The open, pamphlet-strewn plazas and parks
Billboarded with vignettes from Krishna's lives
Scenes from Saint Tiamat's temptations
And blowups of various insect larvae,
Ubiquitous Chaldean-made windmills,
Broad avenues lined with colonnades
Of cuneiform-inscribed cedarn pillars,
The obelisks covered by climbing ivy,
The mammoth museums of polished marble
With miles of long galleries and corridors
Stuffed to ceilings with grotesque figurines
Of mermaids copulating with lobsters,
Sundials, cathedrals, and train stations,
Narrow, labyrinthine alleyways
That suffered uncertain garbage collection,
Astroturfed terraces, tiered pyramids
Chambered both above and below the ground
With a myriad dimly lit oubilettes
Where the insane were tormented until cured,
Row on row of balconies, glass-enclosed,
Each equipped with rusted barbecue,
With plastic sunflowers, with lawn chairs.
And they laboured non-stop for forty years
Until they had created a metropolis
To the then-popular tune 'Danny Boy'.
Some prophet, some half-crocked crackpot,
Mistook a call-in listener request
For God's midnight baritone harangue
That came in streams and incoherent bursts
Through showerheads in local fitness gyms.
Rather than check sources he told himself
And then, later, Nimrod's engineers,
That this melody carried mystic weight,
The secret, uncanny, connecting power
Denoted by the governing number nine.
Liber Jonae Contents