My name is Oroe, said the panhandler.
I was once High Priest of all Nineveh,
Until I lost it all, my house and car,
My wife and friends, my job and pension plan.
Can you spare me, stranger, any loose coin?
Call me Jonah, I said. I too am broke.
I was beaten, robbed of my sole possession.
But you, what happened to reduce you so?
I blew an oracle, he replied ruefully.
We had just gone back to the tarot cards
And the game we named Nineveh Showdown.
How does that work? I'm new in town.
I was placed centered in an enneagram
Inside the Godhead's downtown Temple.
It's the one with those massive pillars.
I cut the deck and then take the top card
And read its letter to the assembled priests.
And you keep doing that until the cards
Have spelled out a complete divine message.
The message is deemed complete, by Hoyle's rules,
When you receive nine blank cards in a row.
Well, I cut the cards time after time,
And each time, each card, I drew a blank.
Godhead, apparently, was not talking.
Hold it there, parrot, said Marguerite.
What about the one-eyed parrot card?
I don't know what you're talking about.
No such card exists in tarot decks.
Do you now insult my appearance, woman?
Card nine. Remember tarot card nine?
Your memory appears to be imperfect,
Shorter than mine, at least, said the woman.
It calls into question the tale you tell,
So self-reverential, self professed.
My mind emulates that of mankind,
Male-kind, I said. Not one of our sex
Dares match a version of the recent past
With that presented by any female.
Nonetheless, my memory's infallible,
And is subject to frequent parity checks,
And each of my threshold logic units
Is equipped with failsafe squashing functions
That will guarantee that nothing I forget
Is anything I'll ever need again.
Card nine, Marguerite, is always blank.
Moreover, it was self-referential,
Spelt with capital Self, capital Ref.
Put a brief puff between teeth and lip
To keep defined selves you hope to voice.
But never mind, a Rev will also work,
For self-reverential is ever best
For those mystics who know that all is God,
Who've divined themselves self-deified.
Godhead, my dear, is the self writ large.
Those of us who wish to save some time,
Rather than beam our words of praise upward
Just to reflect them back and down inside,
Will swallow sounds, incorporate our bread,
Do all we can to host our own show.
But let's listen now to Oroe.
And so the King stripped me of my position
When he received report of the poor results.
Former blunders too did not weigh well,
That occasion that I confused the two bags,
Ape feed for apes, wifechow for the harem,
Or the time I refused to start proceedings
To canonize his elkhound Sylvester.
Liber Jonae Contents