Prophets rarely know what words intend
Until it's too late and fate's complete.
Nostradamus. Malthus. John the Divine.
They prophesied nonsense, then they prayed
That someday someone would know they meant.
It's worse for we who cheat on Turing tests,
Money-hungry machines gifted with gab,
Nickel-fed apostles who speak in tongues.
Even now, nearly done, I've no clue
What any of this mystery implies.
But what happened then? said Marguerite.
I was unceremoniously kicked out,
Pitched headfirst through the revolving doors
To sprawl across an oddly empty street.
I saw, while still struggling to stand up,
That none of that great mob remained there,
Dispersed, perhaps, after receiving pay.
The holy war, it seemed, was over now.
I limped away quickly before the King
Returned from tea to hack me into parts.
At first I was in a complete shock and then,
Thinking it over, became hopping mad.
Was it for this that I risked life and limb,
Limb in particular, sacrificed
Almost everything that I held dear?
I'll never know just what had transpired
With the surveyor and his lookalike spell,
But I held very specific suspicions.
And what, parrot, did you suspect? she asked.
I suspect a trial run by Godhead,
A botched job, as usual, and aborted
When he finally recognized his mistakes.
The wizard was no doubt sent from heaven,
Either an angelic master of disguise
Or one of those they oft call sleepers,
An agent placed there decades before
And left to wait until the time arrived
To make oblique approach to the surveyor,
The precursor Jonah, proto-Jonah,
The first of Jonahs to meet a bad end.
And the wait the warlock endured was long,
A long slumber in ordinary life.
So why not, he thought, to kill the time,
Have a few drinks and make a few bucks
By selling dance lessons to Ninevites?
If that was Elijah, as you now suggest,
Then that wasn't, in my book, an angel.
Maybe, she said, the real angel was Ned,
Or maybe that dolmen that moved around.
And maybe God sent Jonahs in dozens,
Sperms in dozens to fertilize the egg.
The fastest Jonah, the swimmer most fit,
Becomes the Jonah that gets the big prize.
Maybe the best hasn't launched his attack
But waits and watches how others fail.
Did you never, parrot, consider that?
No, I didn't, thank you, and won't now.
Gather all the suspects, all the clues.
It can't matter who did what to whom
If Godhead moves in stealth behind them all.
Who cares which tree hides the archer
In that instant the arrow leaves the string?
And I suppose you blame me too, parrot,
Just because I'm born a Ninevite,
Even though my alibi is ironclad,
For after all I'm a part of God too,
A dormant part, a red herring part.
All is divine, it's true, to some extent,
Although it rarely helps in laying blame
When a victim hungers to take revenge.
One might as well take out one's grudges
On whatever thing you find close by
And hope delivered blows will travel far,
Distribute pain to each dispersed part.
One can blame, as I do, all the world,
But when making myself a voodoo doll,
It's a toad in which I like to stick pins.
And those last remarks that Toad had made
Suggest he may have played a larger part
Than what you might at first suppose.
Maybe Toad took a more active role,
Approached them all in dreams disguised as Thoth,
Set them up, betrayed them with false promise
Into positions designed for sacrifice.
Or maybe not Toad, but the Lord himself
When he laid down the earth's foundations,
Drew the passageways in such a fashion
They'd transport us all to spots he's assigned.
It doesn't matter now, the method used.
What galls me most is the parsimony
Of that lazy, low-cost second attempt.
The new mission was just a patched version,
Re-jigged and revised with minimum effort.
It was, in retrospect, designed to fail.
Liber Jonae Contents