How about five-sixteenths? said the wizard.
And that's all the camel I have on hand.
I swear to Godhead that this is true.
Satisfy yourself - look in my freezer.

According to rabbinic law, he replied,
A camel, unless scrubbed down with that lye
Prepared by priests and blessed by an expert
In unclean, tainted and fractional beasts,
May not be divided unto sixteenths,
Lest the sins of fathers visit their sons.
A war criminal breeds war criminals
Unless the soil is sown with salt.
Yea, though their fathers die intestate,
Sons are bequeathed taste for weasels and mice,
And so get slaughtered themselves by furies.
This diet denies them sanctuary;
No priest grants refuge, permits approach
To those whose breath reeks of rock badger.
And this is how furies keep lines straight,
The fiery sun running its steady course,
Protons attracted, electrons repelled.
They chase contagion wherever it flees,
Whatever weird disguise it puts on,
Although it's true that they sometimes err
And mistake geese for eagles because winged,
Because feathered and seven pounds or more,
Because seldom observed humping a wren.

Such surveyor lore won't help my case.

Give me the proferred one quarter camel,
But to cure my blush and to calm my stammer
I require some extra payment - in kind.

Just what kind of kind had you in mind?
I have neither wine, swine, nor herds of kine.
But for words of your kind, I have my own kind,
And for a kind of line, a property line,
I can always give you two kinds of line.
My empty promises, I think you'd reject,
But my magic spells - well, I think, perhaps.
These are worth, indeed, an entire camel,
And not to be wasted on such small change.

In exchange for small change, said surveyor,
I'll require words that will work true changes,
And not false words that but seem to work.
If you short change me, miserable wizard,
I will trisect your gizzard with a compass
And unsterile, inaccurate ruler.

But I have in mind, my friend, a swell spell
That you'll find completely satisfactory,
A highly charming and disarming charm,
A fine mantra from the Hevajra Tantra
That works as medicine for most dementias,
Wart-remover, snakebite antidote,
And superb general analgesic.
Plus it claims another intriguing virtue.
Repeat it twelve trillion thirteen times
And it will procure, to the amazement of friends
And confusion of foes, a solar eclipse.

Worthy words, I'm sure, but still worth to me
One thirty second of a camel at best.
Solar eclipses make me quite nervous,
While the analgesic is negligible
And to warts I'm apparently impervious.
Reptiles already rightly take pause
To come within the strike of my scrutiny.
Cough up, you alcoholic warlock,
A spell with benefit, with cash value.

You drive a hard bargain, my friend, he said.
Take this, then, my prize and joy of spells,
Most precious and powerful of word-turns,
Possessing several assorted virtues
In addition to those already stated.
First and foremost, if it's spoken aloud,
It leaves the wills of all who hear enslaved.
And that means, sir, they'll buy what you sell.
It comes too with extra benefits,
The add-ons some would call side-effects,
And which, forced by law, I'll fully disclose.
It will blot out the Horsehead Nebula,
Impregnate a maiden koala bear
With pepsi cola spermatazoa,
Mutate the tobacco mosaics
Within six cubits of circumference
Into benign, almost easygoing
And amicable amino acids,
Re-string an anemic ballerina
Too weak to flit to the supermarket.
And last but not least, yes, best of all,
It lets dead men tranpose two heads.

Previous Page
Next Page

Previous Caput
Next Caput

Liber Jonae Contents