My name is Jonah, son of Amitay,
Also known in your language as Dhul-Nun,
May God marinate me in wine vinegar,
Slice me lengthwise, stir-fry me in grease.
I'd like to make an application, sire,
For that State Oracle job vacancy.
As bonafide prophet of the Lord God
Who's logged hours of street-level practice,
I think myself uniquely qualified.
And need I state my resume in full?
It can get lengthy if I add those parts
Divulged in trance by past life regression,
For I've been present from the very beginning,
Made God from my breath and introspection,
Spake the prayer to unite ghost with corpse,
Brought up the steams that fibered the thunder.
I split open snowclad horizons,
Parted sky from earth, tugged out a thread
And unstitched the script that clasped the seam.
I myself brought forth the signal from noise,
Pulled the squalling infant down from clouds,
Fashioned the fork-fingered runes that command,
Set sail birds above on crackling winds
To navigate across electric storms...
Ah yes, Jonah. I have been expecting you,
For your appointment was half an hour ago.
Forgive the lack of the normal fanfare,
But I am running behind and must dispense
With much of customary formality.
Are you ready to start the try-out now?
Just center yourself in that pentacle
Over there in that big open space.
I notice that you are missing your left arm.
In our hiring guidelines the handicapped
Receive no special consideration.
The last one armed bandit to apply here
Was, in fact, totally unsuitable.
Pentacle? I thought it would be nine-sided,
An enneagram by ancient tradition.
I'm altering Nineveh's number to five
To better match the era introduced
On that day that my lustrous reign commenced.
You will recall, I hope, that occasion.
There was a holiday, a parade with floats,
Balloons for the kids, cocktails for adults,
Flags and fireworks, costumed folk dance,
Prize fights, foot races, cattle auctions,
And an extra ration of the bran muffins
We always distribute at coronations.
Each muffin was marked, in glazed sugar,
With a large fat Roman numeral five.
Five's a better number, really, a prime,
Easy for a slowwit to count up to,
Easy to remember, easy to find
Since it is so much closer to the start,
A more modern, more congenial number.
And it's folly to dwell on former glory,
When present glory is so outstanding.
So, to assist with change, the use of nine
Is now forbidden in any context.
Bricks molded for use in all construction
Must now observe a new mystic measure
That's harmonized with pentatonic scale.
Nine story ziggurats, now by law,
Must be eight only, the penthouse destroyed,
Its tenants slain and all furnishings sold.
Every ninth tree must be uprooted
In the sacred mountainside laurel groves,
Buttons in elevators re-numbered,
All the orbits in horoscopes redrawn,
And cats euthanized after life eight.
Counting must now proceed from eight to ten,
And if a group of nine persons assembles,
One must be immediately executed
Else the group be deemed secret conspiracy
Gathered to restore the bygone number.
Baseball teams shall lose their left fielders,
The supreme court its most junior justice,
And the muse of poetry shall be beheaded,
Or demoted to work a part-time position,
Or given an early retirement, her choice.
The ninth person shall now be non-person,
And this means, in particular and namely,
That person of my nameless ancestor.
His substance shall now be incorporated
Into forms that will glorify my reign,
Which although already well underway
Has seen all its accomplishments and deeds
Unsung and quite unjustly overlooked
As yet by historians, critics and pundits.
My ancestor, by contrast, has received
Far too much of the credit and acclaim.
His statues shall be removed from city parks,
And his effigy erased by furnace heat,
The metal reduced to slag and recast
Into commemorative chamber pots
To celebrate the dawn of my new age,
And each shall be etched with the numeral five.
All coinage with his offensive profile
Shall be removed from public circulation,
Melted down, reminted with my image,
And redenominated with my number.
And every page that mentions his name
Shall be torn out of the history texts,
With, on principal, every ninth page.
I shall not rest until the age is mine.
Very shortly our great city itself
Shall change name, Nineveh to Quinteveh.
Liber Jonae Contents