Liber Jonae CAPUT SEVEN Page GHIMEL



_____GHIMEL_____

So, she said, they ate too much locust?

One strange effect of a locust diet,
Due, I'd guess, to ingesting foreign twitch,
Is that it makes disciples want to dance.
You see this too with God's other plagues.
Rat-borne Black Plague first springs to mind,
Kicks off from haunch to launch itself up,
But other fevers too will shuffle feet,
Fevers that seize our last nerves of control
And tug us tangled, jerk-jointed, aloft
In dervish worship of bad puppeteers.
And some will dance to summon disease forth,
And others, less reckless, to ward it off.

I understand, she said, the second group,
But not the first, unless hope's abandoned.

Some flesh, Marguerite, is so saintly
It chooses that path of least resistance,
The state in which cells are only immune
To anti-retroviral drug regimes.
It sacrifices self, it feeds itself
To every phage that likes human meat,
To all the hungers that now know our scent,
The populated mists that wreathe us round.
Such flesh hops and spins, disintegrates,
It does jigs you do if eaten alive.
Dance it dances, although sublime, is brief.
But that doesn't describe my acolytes.
They danced a dance neither brief nor sublime,
A dance too mundane to call holy,
Too lackluster even to be wholesome.

Not only can they sing, they dance as well!
They'd make a good musical theatre troupe.

Singing, clearly, wasn't noisome enough
For those who'd put on sacred sackcloth,
For now they danced God's dance, the foxtrot,
Danced two by two in two four time,
A slow gait, not a walk, not a trot,
A slow procession up the streets and lanes,
Around corners and down the boulevards.
I say stop, they stop, say go, they go.
Enthroned upon a motorized float,
A throng in front, another mob behind,
I led them through the downtown ziggurats
To where their Quintus kept his royal seat.
I waved to shoppers crowded on sidewalks
But none acknowledged or ever waved back,
The bargains too bright to permit them sight.
And all the ornamental almond trees
Aligned along Nineveh's avenues
Were bare of leaf and brittle, dead of drought.
Their crooked twigs segmented sunlight,
Inscribed omens onto pavements below.
It had come time to heed the warning djinn,
Time to divest myself of these adulants.

That angel should've given you a spell
To send people away after awhile.

I know now what drives a holy man
To offer folk their last rites early,
Advanced in date from some faroff day
To right away, this very afternoon.
And so often do such urges come
To those who sacrifice their lives to God
That seminaries teach us how to cope,
On when to let your charges blunder on,
And when to euthanize, cut things short,
And introduce a life to afterlife.
Preachers, even during lengthy sermons,
Watch their congregations for subtle signs,
The mute, unconscious appeals for surcease
That come as slight gestures, a shift of weight,
A poorly chosen glance or itching nose,
A cough that comes just as scriptures are read.
If these are seen preachers have no choice
But serve flocks nonalcoholic juice
Poison-spiked in death-inducing doses
To better speed along their trusting souls
And put an end to any chance to sin,
Just as sewing shut their distended guts
Keeps overeaters from unhealthy snacks.
Sometimes holy men are less direct,
As with those who run flying saucer cults;
Often the drug given is non-lethal,
Maybe just something to help them sleep,
To pacify questions with dreamless rest
And keep flocks quiet while throats are slit
To spare them that disappointment that comes
With grim knowledge that flying saucers won't.
For this is one more lesson prophets learn,
Just what to do if God's overdue
And promised salvation doesn't show up.
But even so it seems a bit extreme,
A bit further than where I wished to go.
My intent was to culminate my mission
By converting Quintus and thus the nation,
To get the whole damn thing over with,
I say stop, they stop, say go, they go.
Double time, double step, step it up,
Time had come to cash out and leave town.



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