Was Godhead's warning delayed somehow,
Sent to the wrong address, lost in ether
And only lately sent forward again?
If so, its meaning also missed its mark,
For these insinuations proved groundless.
The cellluloid newsreels still exist,
The sixty second clips that run at six
And tell what happened in bygone times.
Semiramis did, indeed, in due course,
Become sole ruler of Nineveh's realms.
King Ninus allowed her one full day
To wield a sole and absolute control.
She seized her day and then gambled for more.
It wasn't yet noon when Ninus was hanged,
Which meant, of course, she'd rule tomorrow too.
But Ninus hadn't yet finished his swing
Before his son Octus mustered support
And took command of local armed forces.
Her rule, thus, did not outlast its day.
But there is no mention of a Toad God
In any account that still survives intact.
His status is, at best, mythologic.
The inescapable conclusion, therefore,
Was that this download had arrived corrupt.
It's after that we chose to go to apes,
Even though I warned them against attempts
By any means, by cards or substitutes,
To access so compromised a source,
An ether so altogether scrambled.
I warned against apes, flipped coins and dreams.
Ask not, king, I implored, for bird stools
And other omens best left undisturbed.
Truth and contagion most oft come mixed.
But Quintus ignored the pleas I made
And let the apes do their hunt and peck
To pluck blood-fat ticks from cosmic noise.
To me the names you use are new, I said.
And what of names I've heard, like Sargon,
Tiglath Pilaser or Psalmenezer?
Kings have export names that gnash the teeth,
Designed to fit neatly on tongues that curse,
And put a catch to throats that sob or wail.
Those names won't do for domestic use.
The family cur's called Fang outdoors
But Sweets inside, seated, begging a treat.
Inward pooch, outward timberwolf.
And that's how gods too arrange their names,
Assur here, Marduk in Babylon,
In such a way to let the conquered kneel,
To let the wise slowly befriend themselves.
That's a mystic truth that all priests learn,
The way that nameless gods absorb the world,
The secret behind names as stepping stones
That Ibn Arabi didn't quite get.
Ninus, Octus, Quintus. Am I mistaken,
Or do I, sir, detect a pattern here?
It's custom here among the autocrats
Not to number themselves upward as do
The potentates, the pedigreed poodles,
And the pontiffs of the civilized nations
Of Indo-European ancestry.
Nineveh did not adopt that system
Where you start with the first of a given name
And proceed up to the nth of that name,
Neither skipping any number for luck
Nor slowing for a decimal or fraction,
But rather celebrating one by one
The successive positive integers.
No, the Kings of Nineveh are not numbered
Like volumes of an encyclopedia.
Instead dynastic numbers run downward,
Starting with the hero Nimrod as Ninus.
Ninus was named after the number nine,
Known to be the highest, purest quantity,
A quantity ubiquitous in creation.
All movement's accomplished in nine stages,
And the tenth brings return, cycle complete.
There are nine digits or fingers per person,
Not counting the finger doing the counting,
There are nine chapters in the Book of Jonah,
There are nine planets, nine lives of a cat.
Nine are the flavours of potato chips
That linger along tongues of connoisseurs,
The men of heart who parse this world's taste
Into the nine elementary moods,
Including that newly discovered flavour,
Sour cream and artificial bacon bits.
There are nine tribes, nine divine names,
Nine numbered, lettered, telephone tones
And nine players on a baseball team.
Now Ninus was known as a demi-god,
Who from heaven to Mesopotamia,
At the world's closest approach to perfection,
Brought lightning bolts of logic, luxury,
Luck, lucre, ludency and legal code.
And his realm was considered a golden age.
Octus, his son, a semi-demi god,
Presided over Assyria's silver age.
Quintus, son of Sextus son of Septus,
Is thus one thirty-secondth divine.
He governs an epoch halfway along
The fall and decline of the entire cosmos
From a perfect and a crystalline order
Into a chaotic mutability,
A degeneration from wealth to garbage,
From paradise to utter vacuity.
Quintus, unremarkable in the extreme,
An average man in an average time,
Lacks all salient characteristics.
Neither is he universally despised
Nor is he especially highly regarded,
And his name is mentioned, if mentioned at all,
Only to be immediately dismissed.
Liber Jonae Contents