Liber Jonae


CAPUT FIVE



_____ALEPH_____

So, said Marguerite, was that the end?
Did you expire there beside the highway,
Turn into a wraith that doesn't dissolve,
A sad gas that just doesn't pass on
But hangs around to moan and drag baggage,
Restless, dissatisfied, unrequited,
An endless bother to more solid types?

No, Marguerite, we're far from the end.
I'm still very much corporeal.

I've heard of the vanishing hitchhikers
Who don't acknowledge sudden ends to trips,
The abrupt loss of traction that death brings,
But keep going, pressing doggedly on.
No soul, once in motion, accepts rest
Or forced cancellation of travel plans.
Like an amputee with an absent limb
The disembodied urge their missing flesh
Not to fall, not to flag, not to fail,
And not to flail wildly out of control.
Tales maintain that pure force of habit
Will drive corpses forward for many years
Before they slow, stop and topple over
And let one spot of ground haul them down.
Armand must've seen you off to the side
When you sprang up aghast in headlights,
Slowed down, pulled over, and picked you up.
And it's just the thing that Armand might try,
To drag home roadkill and giftwrap it
Without undertaking to hide the stench
Or wipe up gore that wept out from wounds.

That's not gore, it's part of my plumage.
Watch what you say, Marguerite, I said.
Few ever survive a parrot attack.
Taunt me again and learn the reason why.

A well-made parrot won't sport wattles
As if some deformed Marabou stork
That's gone so stiff it falls flat on its back
If given a tip, if rocked off its feet.
Spirits, say Egyptians, resemble birds.
They drew crude pictures across tomb walls
That look, come to think, a lot like you.
So, bird, are you one of these, a ba,
Winged residue of once-human flesh?
If so, I see why you'd linger here,
Warm and indoors, sheltered from windstorms.
It's a better place to conduct a haunt
Than out beside the road, your thumb out,
A dead man walking who can't hitch a ride.

No, I don't believe I've expired yet.

But that's what all dead men say if asked.
And you're not sure? Perhaps you're now condemned
To loop here evermore, no exit,
A ghost ship that forever rounds the Horn,
The same damned routine done once again,
The same old cycle, same waste of time.
Damnation is like a big league sport
Or rote rites of love, never enough,
Despite the fact it's just more of the same,
Repetitious and pointless, busywork.
Face facts, parrot, you're a phantom now.

I'm not dead, Marguerite. I'm sure.
The hour was dark, but not as dark as that,
Or so it seemed at first, when first I woke
And took the only solace pain can grant,
That nerves and brain still, at least, found sense.
At least, though wracked, I could safely conclude
My existence was not quite concluded yet.
That knowledge, I believed, was safe from doubt,
A truth self-evident, or so it seemed,
Until, with gravel crunch, a hearse arrived.



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