An idiot savant, said Marguerite,
A lightning calculator in bird shape.
You yank a leg to learn the grand total.
Financial computation led my thoughts
Back to the annoyance of my acolytes.
Why couldn't they just give me their money
And then go away and leave me in peace?
I could go nowhere without a mob.
Many thousands of them waited outside,
Fervent, patient, crowded into the street,
Wanting nothing more than a glimpse of me.
If I were to strike up conversation
With a kindly, likely looking female,
And, the one thing leading to another,
Depart looking for a little privacy,
I would have a multitude trailing behind.
But it was a vexation unamenable
To the sort of thought that wrought solution
Of an asset's net present value.
There's many girls who don't mind a crowd,
And not only those who put on shows.
You need to find the right type, that's all.
A retinue is not nearly as bad,
When females come to appraise some male,
As those screeches, stammers and snorts you make.
More offputting still are screams of rage
And vicious swipes of beak designed to maim,
Gash open a cheek, take off an ear.
It indicates, bird, an abusive streak.
That is now, Marguerite. This was then,
Before I learned what an irritation
The human form presents to mystic sight.
Man is the measure of all things, I've heard.
I've heard it's the two-toed newt, I replied,
The one that dwells in the stillwater pools,
Soft, cute, four inches long, and tasty too.
They're exactly half way, science has proved,
Between the very small and very huge,
And less inclined to count higher than three,
The point at which a cautious thought should pause.
This newt, too, folds and fits in pockets,
There when needed to find the length of planks.
We won't tolerate another measure.
This claim is outrage, said Marguerite.
The newts must back down, or go to war.
As I idly wondered why the calendar
Conforms so imperfectly to sky motions,
To orbits and rotations of moon and earth,
Suddenly a fine idea arrived
And parked itself on my mental driveway:
I'd restrict the number of my disciples
To the number of days in a lunar month!
Of course, it was so perfectly plain to see.
It would be a much more manageable size
Than the bleating flock that followed me around.
And, when required, I could send the few off
For an advanced, intense meditation
On those untold virtues sackcloth has.
However this created new problems,
Most of which I might easily surmount,
Such as how one sorts the select few
From the great multitude of candidates.
Perhaps one could organize this mob
Into a sharpshooting competition
Or sit them down to play duplicate bridge.
Highest score joins the holy vanguard.
Perhaps patronage, primogeniture,
Or alphabetical order reversed
Would suffice to separate gold from dross.
Perhaps batteries of aptitude tests
Could sieve away fools and leave the elect.
Method itself did not really matter;
A more serious puzzle now seized thought:
The number of the days in a lunar month
Is, you know, twenty-eight and a fraction.
Lesser prophets might have rounded it off,
But here advanced arithmetic function,
A side-effect of my prophetic talent,
Allowed me to note this fraction equal,
If divided by length of shadows cast,
In standard units, by the Great Pyramid
At six o clock on the spring equinox,
Square-rooted, inverted, added to nine,
Multiplied by the secret area code
Of Godhead's ineffable phone number...
Liber Jonae Contents