No, I said. Nothing can dissuade me now.
First draw attention, if attention it be,
To the fate of that noblest Ninevite,
Scipio Central Americanus,
So titled by Senate proclamation
For his dispatch and conquest of a foe
In some remote arena of combat.
Because he was so complete a warrior
He completely exterminated the foe,
Two million small and furtive pygmies
Who always beseeched the absurdest favours,
Who were always underfed, underfoot,
And whose soft hair always clogged the drains,
By laying out rat-poisoned mangoes.
The grateful nation rewarded the warrior
With a deed to twenty thousand hectares
Of unharvested Lebanese cedar,
The hippodrome parking lot concession
And softdrink vending machines therein,
And all the proceeds and the revenues
From State-operated bowling alleys,
Ball and shoe rentals to be excluded.
These magnificent gifts left him rich,
But victory in war, however complete,
Does not master peace or complete a life,
And this inspired genius ended his days
Living in hovels, hounded by creditors,
Eating catfood from the cans with fingers,
All because of the unwise investments
He made in longshot exactor tickets
And all those offshore mutual funds
Too offshore for quick extradition,
And, worst of all, in commodity futures.
And who was to know that soybeans would dive?
It certainly astonished our Scipio.
The conclusion to be drawn, my friend, is this:
Close no man's file that does not include
A medical certificate of death,
And insist, when possible, on an autopsy.
Make no final profit-loss statements,
Even in jest, even under your breath,
Until all your transactions are complete.
Count no man happy until he's dead,
Or, if not dead, incapacitated
To such degree he cannot venture forth
And inflict on himself some further harm.
Thus only a complete quadriplegic
May be considered both happy and alive.
Of the manifold joys God gave man
None can surpass a full paralysis.
And this is best of all the mortal states,
Pleasure subtracted and pain disappeared,
The supreme peace all our mystics cherish,
The parinirvana all Buddhists seek.
Why else did Peter not cure his daughter
Whom Godhead both paralyzed and poxed,
If not to spare the girl the wrack of love
And keep her eager paramours at bay?
Why else do snakes immobilize game
If not so the prey in perfected bliss
May then witness itself engulfed alive?

An angel said that? asked Marguerite.
Paralysis is the best of mortal states?
No angel would ever say such things.
You're substituting your own point of view,
Your own mental vision for divine words.

I hope the fish spoke not ex cathedra
But rather from the despair of his own state,
Out of water, embedded in vegetables.
If you think I misrepresent his words,
Bring your own version of the events forth.

But I had, by this time, already left
As you yourself have already reported.
But surely others there observed the fish
Making points with such force, at such length.

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