I think those dead are Nineveh's homeless.
They are, alas, littered throughout the town
And rarely used as navigation aids.
They're not, parrot, reliable signposts.
I came in time to find the place I sought
And saw on my way the industrial zone.
This district and all that sits within
Adores Ig-Galla, he of rear doors.
It was in this district that all factories,
That all processing plants, kennels, mills,
Crematoria, waste incinerators,
Stockyards and foundaries found their sites.
Here stood the town's sewage treatment plants,
Its abattoirs, its stinking settling ponds,
And nearby were railroad switching yards
And open spaces suitable for dumping
Salvagable items, items that possess,
Perhaps or perhaps not, a further use.
This is where memory completes its meal,
The last digestion that seals hunger's claim,
The last satisfaction morsels provide.
One vast field was filled with treadless tires,
Another was heaped with the twisted wreckage
Of automobiles and girders and lampposts,
Of truck engines and major appliances.
Still another was stacked with boxcars
And bright coloured intermodal containers.
And above them all, blinking red warnings
To avert aircraft collisions at night
Or at morning in thick low lying smog,
Were the immense reactor cooling towers.
Crafty urban planners had zoned the town
In such a way that these enterprises
Would occupy low priced real estate,
Land measured in acres, not square feet,
And pay less in tax than fashion boutiques
Or restaurants that feature famous chefs.
Tribes learn the art of partition early,
As soon as camp is first made for the night.
They draw a line between minus and plus,
The line that teaches us how to pitch tents
And build our cookfires on highest of ground,
How to relegate offal to the ditch
Or dig latrines a few paces away,
Stable camels, tan hides, butcher meat,
Bury corpses, count coin, pile the trash
In places apart to reduce pollution
And keep remote those distracting odours,
Those clouds of flies, those curious rodents.
There's good reason why they situate
The rectum some distance off from the mouth
In most bodily organizations,
A point often raised by those among us
Who argue from design existence of God,
Since mindless evolution would neglect,
As merciful God, demiurge, would not,
To give purity such priority
And keep the shit from dripping down our chins.
This same principle elaborated
Was the force that collected in this spot
So many competing commercial firms,
This and proximity of riverbank,
Of railhead, and the confluence of roads
Along which ancient caravans moved.
It was here that the athanors, alembics,
Ovens, smelters, refineries and pits
Of Nineveh's famous alchemical works
Belched smoke and steam and profit's sweet stink
Onto my ever-appreciative palate.
Our town externalizes only perfume,
Replied Marguerite, by Assur's command.
And all natives, those born and raised here,
Find other air too low in fiber,
Too insipid, too transparent, too thin.
Liber Jonae Contents