Response to Comment, Draft 4,”Being Amused on the Highway”

Being Amused On The Highway

I wanted to write a poem about a lily
or a silly one about dear Lily –
couldn’t until I was racing

down a long highway
at 88 miles-per-hour, and
a Muse did say something
or other my way, but

I can’t remember a thing
in a hospital bed
and neither Lily nor Muse
are crashing here soon
during visiting hours
—Douglas Gilbert
REF: Comment by Bethany
Bethany:
“… My “muse” or subconscious only seems to come up with ideas i find interesting when it’s nearly impossible for me to write, like when I’m barreling down the interstate at 75 mph on my way to work…”.

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Train Platform

Train Platform

I feel small climbing the stairs
to the elevated track
stepping over broken ketchup packets
french fry wrappers
kids’ litter dropped by
catburglers who
steal scenery. Is my
train coming?

Yet there’s a foolish gal
who built a house nearby
who endures the clickety-clack for me
gives me solace, for
with the sun at my back
my shadow’s on her roof, but then

to let the sun climb with me
the morning clouds do stay away
on many days of huff and puff

In Spring at last
I last until
my shadow’s on her door

Tomorrow I shall be her Sun
who crosses streets to knock

—Douglas Gilbert

Books by Douglas Gilbert

Mario Gómez in the Mine With God and Friends

Mario Gómez In the Mine With God and Friends

SAN JOSÉ MINE, Chile

God is not confined to stars
to mountains and valleys
to merchant ships

He dwells in every
interstitial place where
souls may lie and pray

It is said
there is a task of redemption
for every stowaway on
His ship of saints

Could be
some will return with a ticket

It is said
for a bit of chocolate
and the taste of heaven,
Mario Gomez is
a miner for God
and for Chile

Luis Urzúa is his navigator
does the charts

In the hearts of the mine
there are stars, and

down tubes
little packets of food
messages from loved ones
videos
prayers

In the hearts of the mine
there are card games
friendships, a diet for
a small waist that’ll fit
in the rescue shaft to come

May God mind the miners
give them strength
an image of family
a bit of chocolate

Chile is digging for them.
There are stars in the mine
and stars above.

Lift them together
where sons and Sun may rise

    — Douglas Gilbert
REF: “Trapped Chilean Miners Forge Refuge,” Alexei Barrionuevo, New York Times, September 1, 2010, p. A1

Zawmb’yee Nuje Continues the Blog, Chap 10, 118

Zawmb’yee Continues The Blog

CHAPTER 10 : SECRETS AND DISASTER

ENTRY 118

     As you could have guessed, I’ve procrastinated as much as I could, but I do have an appointment set with the Drofluo. This I did after I finally asked Yenkoi for an explanation of the last session at the mevltikacle, and asked for a clarification of my options for a meeting with the Drofluo. After a few days when I had caught up on my Ofuye studies, I called in Yenkoi for a consultation.
     I had said, “Gavicte Yenkoi, I think I’m ready now for you to update me on everything I’ve postponed.”
     “Yes, of course, Fevepo. You had asked me after the last session at the mevltikacle to explain my decisions on your behalf. I think that you needed a definition of yleueox, and aucocne, in the context of Aipnica Hshwigi’s request?”
     “Yes, Gavicte Yenkoi.”
     “Um, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, as you may know, I find it difficult speaking about vulgar and indelicate matters. If you would please pardon me if I stumble about in my explanation with too many euphemisms or with an obfuscation. Perhaps, after you’ve finished your studies with Apacevj, I’ll be able to explain this and other things more precisely in Upper Utd’mbts. Shall I proceed?”
     “Sure, Gavicte Yenkoi — let it all hang out.”
     “Excuse me, Fevepo? I don’t understand.”
     “Sorry, that’s an up-top expression. Um, I mean, yes, of course, proceed.”
     “Thank you, Fevepo. Aipnica Hshwigi wishes to become pregnant. She wants it to be by a supervised mounting of her by the horse Camille alias James. The process of lowering an erect horse onto her, and allowing for a careful thrusting process that results in an ejaculation within her, is called ‘yleueox’, and ‘aucocne’ simply means ‘sperm donor.’ When I say ‘horse’ I mean liaoc or a person such as James.”
     “Um, well, Gavicte Yenkoi, I think I understand. If I may be indelicate for a moment: Hshwigi wants to have sex with James, and have his baby…”    
     “Yes, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, that would be a succinct way to describe the essential elements without the social-milieu context. Is this sufficient for now?”
     “Yes, thank you, Gavicte Yenkoi. I’m sorry you had to suffer through that explication, but I enjoy a good ramble. Well, OK, whenever I learn Utd’mbts more thoroughly, you’ll tell me more.”
     “Yes, Fevepo.”
     “Which reminds me: I think it best that when I have the meeting with the Drofluo, that I insist that they NOT speak in Upper Utd’mbts, since I don’t know it that well. Will this be acceptable?”
     “Yes, of course, Fevepo. The briefing can contain as much or as little detail as you want to hear. The decision is yours, and as I’ve said before, whatever you do agree to hear must be kept secret.”
     “Yes, Gavicte Yenkoi, I understand,” I had said, but as I’ve hinted at: there is a problem which I won’t dare discuss with Yenkoi.
     Now as the meeting approaches, I’m getting more and more nervous. And I hope I’m correct that none of the elite here in the Palace and in the inner villages read this blog, because I do plan to describe a little bit about the meeting.
     I think it’s treason, but I’m thinking that if I’m the High Priestess, I could pardon myself or… I’m not going to think about it anymore. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they don’t read blogs on the up-top Internet.

Zawmb’yee Nuje Continues the Blog, Chap 9, 117(Edit)

Zawmb’yee Continues The Blog, Chap 9

ENTRY 117 (Edit: with supplement)

     Today, Gavicte Yenkoi has said that a group of Drofluo want to meet with me. They are a black ops division of the Wipzib. He has said that if I choose to meet with them I can’t consult with him or anyone else, and that I must keep to myself whatever secrets they tell me, unless I write a formal decree explaining my reasons for wanting to share this information with any persons, and explaining these persons’ need-to-know. Gavicte Yenkoi says, I may reveal those secrets to those designated in the decree only if the full Council ratifies the decree. I can refuse to see the Drofluo if I wish. I don’t know if I want to know this ultra-super-top secret stuff. But if I don’t even hear it, how would I condemn any abuse of power I know nothing about. I suppose the idea of refusal is to be able to have plausible deniability for the approval by default of a necessary evil, because conditions are so dire as to require drastic measures.
     I’m feeling more weird all the time. Because of this, I’ve scheduled an automatic sending of Doug’s email at the up-top network service provider. It’s already safely stored by them. This way, whatever happens here to me or to my up-top-type computer in the kngacev, the ISP will send the special email to Doug and will take care of my accounts. At his point, I’d better not say anything further here about that.
     Well, then, perhaps, while I’m still somewhat lucid (although, I don’t know if anything has ever been clear to me), I’ll talk about the last session I observed at the mevltikacle. After that one, I just told Libikzi to send me written reports and that if any more authorizations were needed that I’d let Gavicte Yenkoi make the decisions for me.
     After the cart pulling incident, they had returned James to Gacplk. We had arrived at the mevltikacle for a morning session. The tikwitipj and the eksikmazm were laid out on the floor of the mevltikacle again. James a.k.a. Camille was naked except for his hilukwili, earrings, neck collar, and handcuffs.
     James stood, hands behind his back, in front of the pedal of the tikwitipj. Gacplk, growling behind him, said, “Spin the wheel.”
     “I can’t,” said James.
     Gacplk let go of the chain of the handcuffs. He said, “Move forward and step hard with your foot on the pedal. The harder you step, the faster and the longer the wheel will spin… you might need time to think about something.”
     “Is this good news or bad news?” asked James.
     “Shut up. Just step on the damn pedal,” said Gacplk pushing James who then fell onto the pedal on his knees. The wheel spun furiously.
     “Can I win a prize?” asked James.
     “No. But you can take the consequences of the wheel, or you can have what’s behind door number one, door number two, or door number three. What do you want to do?” said Gacplk.
     “I want to go to Disneyland.”
     Gacplk looked toward the firing squad. “Load crossbows.” He said to James, “Decide soon, and this time, if you try to escape, the archers will get you in a painful way.”
     James said, “Um, uh, door number one.”
     Gacplk waved over two guards. Gacplk said, “Remove his handcuffs.”
     James said, “Does this mean I can go to Disneyland?”
     “No James,” said Gacplk, “you’ve chosen door number one. Walk over to the door, and you’ll see that there’s a sword on the floor right in front of it. Go pick it up.”
     “Does this mean,” said James, “that I get to fight my way out of the mevltikacle?”
     Gacplk used his sweet insidious voice, “No, James, not that you’d be any match against crossbows and guns. Just go while the wheel is still spinning and you don’t have to forfeit your chance.”
     As James walked towards the door, Gacplk and his men all moved back about fifty feet away from the door. Yenkoi and I also moved back to a safe distance. The men up on the eksikmazm with their crossbows were already in a secure position.
     Arriving at the door, James picked up the sword and said, “Oh, I could throw this like a spear.”
     “No James,” shouted Gacplk, “hold the sword straight out in front of you.”
     “Like this?”
     “Good enough,” said Gacplk. He gave a signal and the door began to open. Gacplk’s men spread out into defensive positions and drew their guns.
     A lion lunged at James going for his throat and was just barely diverted as part of its body fell onto the sword that James didn’t even have time to move.
     The lion roared and while stumbling, mauled James with its claws. It turned itself around.
     “No, James,” shouted Gacplk, “stab it in the throat.”
     James plunged the sword into its throat as it lunged again.
     Gacplk shouted, “Stab it again. Cut its head off.”
     James pulled out the sword and plunged it repeatedly all over the lion’s body, and hacked at the neck. He turned, screamed a war cry and ran towards Gacplk with the sword outstretched. Gacplk’s men backed up and aimed their guns at James.
     Gacplk shouted, “Stop James, now.”
     Two arrows flew near James’ ears, the feathers of one brushing him. James slowed somewhat. He let out a bellowing shriek, waving the sword wildly while blood sprayed into the wind of his wake.
     “Stop James,” Gacplk said, calmly stepping back a few steps and drawing his gun.
     James lowered the sword and walked towards Gacplk.
     “Drop the sword.”
     James picked up speed again, made the sound of a moose, and raised his sword back like an antler.
     “Stop. Drop the sword.” Gacplk ran back, stopped, turned, aimed his gun and shouted, “Aim crossbows.”
     James ran faster, aiming the sword at Gacplk.
     Gacplk braced himself. “Steady, fire at my signal.”
     A chorus of screeches came from the entrance of the mevltikacle and James stopped and looked up.
     Hshwigi, Baynibi, and Naytuci screamed, “Camille! Whoa!”
     The wild creature wearing the hilukwili and earrings, stopped in its tracks, dropped the sword like a molting, and began shaking uncontrollably, falling to the ground.
     “Pevfexo Gacplk!” shouted Pevfexo Libikzi.
     Gacplk looked at Libikzi and back at the creature on the ground. “Stand down weapons,” said Gacplk.
     Pevfexo Libikzi said, “May I, Pevfexo Gacplk?”
     “Yes, alright, Pevfexo Libikzi, if you wish,” said Gacplk. “Come retrieve it.”
     Libikzi, Hshwigi, Baynibi, and Naytuci had come with an entire team of Yacmyeep who waited at the entrance. Libikzi waved them in. They carried all kinds of baskets and bags, and they looked like they came for a picnic.
     Hshwigi, Baynibi, and Naytuci rushed over to Camille who was still shaking on the ground. Hshwigi said, “Take it easy Camille. We’ve brought you a cheeseburger, and a gin and tonic.”
     The filly Camille sat up. She took a sip of the gin and tonic from a straw, and had a bite of the cheeseburger.
     Baynibi said, “We’ve brought your clothes. Do you want to put them on?”
     Camille said, “Yes, Aipnica Baynibi.” Camille put on her trotter skirt and Baynibi and Hshwigi helped her put on her harness bra.
     Naytuci said, “Drink the rest of you gin and tonic.”
     Camille gulped it down.
     Libikzi came around. “Is everything under control?”
     Hshwigi said, “Yes, our filly is fine.”
     Libikzi said to Camille, “Feel better?”
     The filly said, “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi.”
     Libikzi said, “Finish your Cheeseburger.”
     Camille grabbed it with both hands and gobbled it up.
     Libikzi offered a swig of whiskey from a bottle. “Want to have a jolt?”
     “Yes, please, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said Camille and she took the bottle to her mouth and swung it back.
     Hshwigi and Baynibi took Camille’s hands and led her away from Gacplk’s sight.
     Libikzi said, “Don’t worry Camille. We’ll take care of you. Feel better?”
     “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said Camille.
     Libikzi signaled Naytuci. Naytuci walked behind Camille.
     Libikzi said, “Give Naytuci your hands.”
     Camille said, “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi.”
     Naytuci handcuffed Camille’s hands behind her back. “Secure,” said Naytuci to Libikzi.
     Libikzi shouted to Gacplk, “Thank you, Pevfexo Gacplk. Everything’s under control now.”
     The Yacmyeep took Camille away, and Naytuci said, “Can we put on her blue eye shadow and her mascara?”
     Libikzi said, “Sure, why not. It’s your filly, and she has pretty eyes and nice eyelashes.”
     Hshwigi said, “Um, Pevfexo Libikzi, if I may make a formal request?”
     Libikzi said, “Yes, Aipnica Hshwigi, dear. Speak your mind.”
     “High Pevfexo, if it pleases you, may I um, uh…”
     “Go right ahead Dear. I give my permission for you to speak freely,” Libikzi said.
     “Thank you, Pevfexo. After proper training, may I use Camille as my yleueox?”
     Libikzi said, “I am inclined to approve, but wait Dear… I have one formality to do.”
     “Yes, Pevfexo.”
     Libikzi turned towards me. “High Priestess, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, if it would please you to do so, would you allow Aipnica Hshwigi to use Camille as her yleueox, and may I also ask if the Yacmyeep may have Camille available as aucocne?”
     Baynibi and Naytuci giggled. They whispered to Hshwigi.
     I said, “Pevfexo Libikzi, thank you for your request. Please give me one moment.”
     “Yes, Fevepo.”
     I whispered to Yenkoi, “Gavicte, what the Kievifkwa is she asking me?”
     “Well, Fevepo, yleueox means um…”
     “Oh hell, oh Kievifkwa, never mind. Gavicte, can you decide and speak for me?”
     “Yes, of course, Fevepo.”
     I said to Libikzi, “I will allow Gavicte Yenkoi to make the decision and speak for me.”
     “Yes, High Priestess, Fevepo Zawmb’yee.” Libikzi bowed toward Yenkoi.
     Yenkoi smiled and whispered to me, “Fevepo, may I proceed?”
     “Yes, Yenkoi,” I said.
     Yenkoi turned toward Libikzi. “Pevfexo Libikzi, I hereby grant both requests, and if you would convey to Aipnica Hshwigi in advance, our congratulations and best wishes. May you succeed as fortune will have it in service to the gods.”
     Libikzi bowed. “Thank you Gavicte Yenkoi. Thank you, High Priestess, Fevepo Zawmb’yee.”
     I whispered to Yenkoi, “Now what the Kievifkwa, what Kievifkwa-ing thing did I agree to?”
     “High Priestess, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, if it pleases you to do so, may I request that you not curse so much?”
     “Oh never mind Gavicte. Can you tell me what it means later?”
     “Yes, of course, Fevepo. You are so kind.”
     “Oh… I mean, yes, fine, very good, my dear Gavicte.”

Zawmb’yee Nuje Continues the Blog, Chap 9, 116

Zawmb’yee Continues The Blog, Chap 9

ENTRY 116

     Before the lunch break, James hadn’t been fully dressed in his trotter’s uniform, but he needed to be hitched to the trotter’s cart soon to begin his breaking in before his rebellious tendencies could become habitual and chronic. The time had approached to apply a more comprehensive discipline and ensure obedience. I’ve read that once a new trotter accepts the role assigned, it no longer suffers the pain of futile escape attempts, and injuries from reckless flailing about. They say that once the horse’s identity and role are firmly inculcated, the new trotter is comforted by the certainty of its obedience to a proscribed routine. Thus fear is removed. But first the wild horse must be broken.
     James had not been looking well when we had returned to the mevltikacle after our lunch break. He had not eaten and had had limited drinks. His weakness had to be carefully calculated to limit his strength to resist, but not allow his death as long as he appeared to be a useful commodity, but from the way he trotted about, pulling on the post, rolling on the floor, yanking at his clothes, he seemed strong enough to survive a little longer.
     The Yacmyeep milled about in excited anticipation. Hshwigi, Baynibi, and Naytuci, gossiped, not overly concerned with who would overhear them while the rest of the Yacmyeep prepared for the afternoon’s activity. Hshwigi wiggled her fingers to show her rainbow-colored fingernails. “Look,” she said to the others, “aren’t these great shades of nail polish: passionate red on my index finger, citrus orange for my middle finger, sun-bright yellow on my ring finger, and bright green for my pinkie. Aren’t these gorgeous?”
     The others agreed. Baynibi said, “You know, we could paint James’ fingernails these colors. Don’t you think it would be pretty?”
     Naytuci said, “Well, maybe but right now, James’ hands have to stay handcuffed behind his back.”
     “Oh yeah, I forgot,” said Baynibi.
     Hshwigi fluttered her eyes. “See my blue eye shadow…”
     “Oh yeah,” said Naytuci, “we could do his eyes, and paint his toes.”
     Baynibi said, “Yeah, that would be fun.”
     “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Hshwigi, “I can see it: this will be a pretty filly. Look at the decorative ancient engraving on James’ hilukwili, and doesn’t it look gorgeous: James does have pretty armlets, and if you look closely you can see there are nice frilly, leafy designs on James’ bra. Don’t you think?”
     “Just one thing,” said Naytuci, “those dry chapped and cracked lips are not attractive.”
     Libikzi shouted, “Quiet everyone. We have work to do… Someone bring the horse over to the cart between the pull poles.” James was lifted, pushed, and dragged.
     James said, “Don’t you think you’ve had enough fun. I could go and I won’t say anything — I mean, who would believe me anyway?”
     “Another demerit. You address me as PevfexoLibikzi. Understand?”
     “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James.
     “James,” said Libikzi. “We can’t take any chances. Calm down, and you’ll be fine. Wouldn’t you like a nice full course dinner of your choice, and all you can drink of any beverage?”
     “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James.
     “Well then, you have to win the race. We will prepare you to be a good filly. We’re going to hitch you to the cart. Don’t fidget because we want to properly distribute the load that you’re going to pull among the attachment points and lines. Just stand calmly, and we’ll take good care of you. Alright, James?”
     “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James.
     Libikzi instructed the Yacmyeep. “First attach the chains from the poles to the rings of the hilukwili. Leave some slack, and we’ll adjust it later — it’s not going to take much of the load…”
     Hshwigi and Baynibi locked the chains onto the rings. Hshwigi wiggled her fingers in front of James’ face. “Do you like my nails, James?”
     James said, “Uh, yes AipnicaHshwigi. Very nice.”
     “Alright, now just for a margin of safety,” said Libikzi, “attach the chain from the center bottom of the cart to the handcuff chain and the extension pole to the neck collar.”
     James tried to trot away. Five Yacmyeep rushed in to hold James, and five to hold the cart.
     “Whoa, James,” said Libikzi, “you don’t want to hurt yourself.”
     James said, “Never mind the race. Get me out of this.” James tried to turn the cart around, but the Yacmyeep already had a hold on everything.
     “Ten demerits,” said Libikzi. “If you damage yourself, we’ll have to execute you. And you will address me as Pevfexo. Perhaps we should redeem all your demerits with a suitable punishment now. Or will you stand still and be calm?”
     James shifted around to try to get comfortable. “Alright, Pevfexo. I’m OK now.”
     “Good James,” said Libikzi. “Now we move on to the main load bearing item.” Libikzi gave a signal. More Yacmyeep came in and grabbed hold of every inch of James’ body. Libikzi commanded them, “From now on, I want no movement at all.”
     James couldn’t budge in any way. James screamed, “Let go of me.”
     “Two demerits,” said Libikzi. “James, if you stay calm, you’ll be fine.”
     Libikzi pointed at Hshwigi and Baynibi. They attached chains from the main structure of the cart to rings on James’ bra.
     Naytuci sat in the jockey’s chair of the cart. Hshwigi and Baynibi attached the reins to James’ earrings.
     “Now that was easy. Wasn’t it James,” said Libikzi.
     James jumped up and down and shook his head.
     Libikzi directed the Yacmyeep. “Hold James still. Don’t allow any movement.”
     Baynibi was all excited. “Pevfexo, can we decorate our filly now?”
     “Sure,” said Libikzi. “The lips are chapped. Choose a lipstick.”
     Baynibi said, “Let’s see how bright orange looks.” She applied an orange lipstick to James’ lips. “Doesn’t that feel better,” she said to James.
     “Yes, Aipnica Baynibi,” said James.
     Libikzi turned and looked over towards Yenkoi and me. “High Priestess, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, if it would please you to do so, would you be inclined to name the new filly?”
     “Yes, thank you, Pevfexo Libikzi,” I said, “I like Camille.”
     “Very well, thank you, Fevepo Zawmb’yee,” said Libikzi, “we are honored.”
     Hshwigi brought supplies from her equipment bag. She said, “Camille, close your eyes, I want to paint your eyelids blue.”
     The filly looked around, hitched firmly to the cart.
     Hshwigi grabbed the horse’s face. “That’s you Camille; I’m speaking to you,” said Hshwigi.
     “I’m James,” said the filly.
     “Two demerits,” said Libikzi, “This is your new name. You will answer to it when addressed. Understand Camille?”
     “I’m James,” the horse hitched to the cart said.
     “Ten demerits,” said Libikzi. “You will address me as Pevfexo Libikzi, and I will address you as Camille. Understand Camille?”
     “I’m James.”
     Libikzi said to Naytuci who was in the jockey’s chair, “Drive Camille to the treadmill in the punishment cell, after you establish control.”
     The Yacmyeep still held the horse in place. Naytuci pulled all the chains tight until the horse screamed. Naytuci reached to one side and found a whip. She lashed the horse twenty times. She said, “When I pull on your left ear, you will turn left.” Naytuci nodded to the Yacmyeep. They withdrew away from the cart. The horse pulled forward with its head turned to the left. Naytuci said, “Turn left, turn left.” The head was turned left but the cart went straight. Some Yacmyeep in a forward position blocked the path with a ramp that they unfolded from the back of a truck. The cart went straight up the ramp onto the platform of the truck. The Yacmyeep climbed up the ramp, threw lines out and anchored the cart to the platform. Naytuci put on a brake, and got out of the driver’s seat. Naytuci and the Yacmyeep walked down the ramp back onto the floor of the mevltikacle. The ramp folded up. The whole cart with the horse still attached was driven to a huge domed area that was carved out of the rock between the entrance and the pond. An enormous garage door opened slowly in the back. The truck disappeared into a tunnel, and the door closed.
     Libikzi said to Naytuci, “Wasn’t that exciting? It’s just a minor setback. This sort of thing often happens. We have other strategies. We’ll see.”
     I said to Yenkoi, “Does this mean the conditioning has failed?”
     Yenkoi said, “No, Fevepo. It’s just one of the variations. They’ve handled it before. It’s never predicable which variation will work best in each case. It’s just going to take a little longer.”
     “Well, in any case, Gavicte Yenkoi, the Yacmyeep seem to enjoy their work.”
     “Yes Fevepo,” said Yenkoi, “they will get the job done eventually. There’s plenty of time, and I predict that Camille will win the race. It should be interesting. Shall we go to dinner?”
     “Yes, fine, Gavicte.”
     An exciting day. Better than reading the Ofuye.

Zawmb’yee Nuje Continues the Blog, Chap 9, 115

Zawmb’yee Continues The Blog, Chap 9

ENTRY 115

     I’m still reading the Ofuye. There is a disturbing question that comes to mind. Everything is based on the assumption that the gods were benevolent. The elite in the palace, and those in the inner villages are portrayed as descendants of those given special tools and knowledge by the gods. Some are assumed to be descendants of the prophets. They make no claims any more extraordinary than any other religion, and they have as many purported miracles and saints as any other culture, and have as much or more documentation and literature. There are convoluted explications on why bad things happen to good people. There’s a master plan never explained but constantly alluded to whenever a painful lesson is learned (could you teach me about fire without burning me — a good teacher would bring the child to the mountain cliff, but would be sure to hold his hand and not let him fall over the edge before he’s been given wings. Why would any god not have sense enough to do this? Why would any god be such a degenerate parent? If a god won’t teach, won’t help, won’t stop the children from fighting(even letting siblings kill each other, without even a stern and timely warning, ‘now children play nice — don’t hit your sister, don’t hit your brother’), if all of these are refused, no god is a benevolent supervisor, a god is at best indifferent, and at worst…
     What if the gods were not benevolent. Then the elite of the book would be descendants of collaborators with tyranny, fooled by magicians.
     And as in the up-top world, who is to say that we don’t suffer under the yoke of the descendants of an elite who were the greatest superstitious storytellers of all time, be it from one or many sources — talent of persuasion does not guarantee truth. Do not the innocent suffer under the unintended consequences of every exuberance foisted by the day’s extant ecstatics. Every epoch has had it’s absolute ‘Certainty of Faith’ in its primitive writing, and has had the blasphemies of the others, some of whom had noble lives off in some distant corner with compassion and kindness toward their own children.
     What if a benevolent god spoke to me. Would what he said be untrue if my rhetorical skills were lacking, and no one would believe me? What if an evil god spoke to me and my rhetorical skills were great. Haven’t the Machiavellian ones always dominated with rhetoric and armies. The pacifists and idealists don’t lead armies. Don’t the greatest soldier orators steal the revolutions from the idealists?
     Oh Kievifkwa! I’ve done a polemic and I’m not very convincing. What if a god told me something true — how would I convince anyone, and how would I explain its authenticity? Can I say to anyone, when I love you, I give you truth, for who am I to be a god even for a moment.
     But then, there are the duties of the leader. If our enemies destroy us, how will we speak, be it even the voice of a god. Many a shaman have died when their warriors were weak, and their knowledge was lost, not for any lack of authenticity, but for a lack of weapons of war. No culture who let their warriors become weak were defended by their God. Were they? No, they were demonized by their conquerors whose weapons allowed them to claim a greater God.
     And so what do I do about James who would be blabbermouth, or jester but would not be King. What do we do with clowns? Well, actually, it’s already too late. I just didn’t finish telling you about his destruction. Philosophy is so much more high-minded and pleasant. There can always be found a more intricate logic that can justify anything(oh if we only knew the premises). But anyway, the gods made me do it.
     Stall, stall, stall. Wait until you hear how James got into the trotter’s race. Tragedy had become so funny, and that’s what worries me. I must not be myself if I find my growing powers amusing. I’m losing something… but the High Priestess is amused. Ha! I have spoken. Bring in the clowns.
     Poor James. He must be one of many who have endured the damihaiz.
     I wonder how many others have wandered into any part of the secret city, or been dragged there. Poor other Jameses.
     At least, last time, James got to sleep one night. We had returned to the mevltikacle in the morning after.
     By the time we got there, the Yacmyeep had already washed and shaved James, and they had removed the agroape and the eksikmazm from the floor of the mevltikacle. Most of the Yacmyeep were busy setting up equipment, but Hshwigi, Baynibi, and Naytuci were chatting. Naytuci ran her fingers through her purple hair and said, “Isn’t the filly pretty. She could be a good trotter. She needs a better name than James.” They all laughed.
     “Yeah, whatever name they choose, bet on that one,” said Hshwigi pointing her index finger with the red nail polish. “You’ll probably get good odds.”
     James was pacing up and back trying to get out of his handcuffs and trying to reach around to the front of his body. He walked to the end of his leash that was chained to a post, pulling until he choked and then he stopped.
     James shouted, “Libikzi, let me the hell out of here now. This is ridiculous, this is insane, and they will…”
     “Oh James,” said Libikzi, “You were doing so well. That’s another demerit: you address me as Pevfexo Libikzi.”
     “Oh hell, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James, “what are you doing to me? Let me go.”
     James paced up and back, and coming to the end of his leash, tripped on his own feet and fell to the floor. All the Yacmyeep were there in their short yellow dresses with purple sun symbols shining on each breast and blue triangles under their immodest cleavages. One remarked, “Isn’t she a wild filly — she’ll probably win the race…”
     Hshwigi and Baynibi came over and lifted him to his feet. Naytuci grabbed the chain of his handcuffs and pulled him backward toward the center of the floor where there was a small trotter racing cart with room for one jockey.
     Libikzi, fingering her sapphire pendant, said, “James, why all the fuss? I have good news for you.”
     “Pevfexo Libikzi, may I ask, um…” said James with insincere respect, stalling for time, probably trying to think of an escape plan, “may I ask what is the good news?”
     Libikzi raised an eyebrow and played with one of her gold bracelets. “I’m glad you asked,” said Libikzi. “There’s a trotter’s race for novice horses. The winning prize is a full course dinner in the main dining room without restraints, and a guided tour of the Inner Cities. Seems perfect for you, seeing as you wanted to explore. No?”
     “Well, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James tentatively, “may I ask the bad news?”
     “Hmm,” said Libikzi, “you could put it that way, but it’s just part of your training program, and as you advance, you will receive more privileges and freedoms. You must first train to be a good trotter. Shall we proceed?”
     James was afraid to say no. He said, “Yes, Pevfexo Libikzi.”
     “To qualify for the race, you must learn to trot. If you break into a gallop you will be disqualified and ineligible for a prize. But don’t worry, we can guarantee that you can’t spread your legs too far. Shall we show you?”
     “Um,” said James, “uh, Pevfexo Libikzi, I guess you could tell me about this, um…”
     “No, James,” said Libikzi, “we will instruct and you will comply.”
     The Yacmyeep brought a chair. Naytuci pushed him and he sat down.
     Libikzi said, “We will put on you a tight and narrow trotter’s skirt that will limit how far apart your legs can stretch. This will prevent a gallop and limit steps to the correct length apart.”
     Aipnica Naytuci said, “Lift your legs so we can put on your skirt.”
     “What?” said James.
     “Another demerit,” said Aipnica Naytuci. “Shall we move to the punishments?”
     “Uh, no,” said James, “Aipnica Naytuci.”
     Hshwigi and Baynibi helped Naytuci pull a trotter’s skirt part way up, pushing James’ legs together. “Stand up James,” said Naytuci, and they pulled the skirt up and locked the waist belt.
     James tried to run with tiny small steps, but couldn’t get far before Naytuci stopped him.
     Libikzi said, “Open you mouth wide — we want to see your teeth. Now!”
     James opened his mouth wide and then said, “Pevfexo Libikzi, why am I doing this?”
     “Every horse must be steered, “ said Libikzi. “We must determine what kind of bit to use. We need to attach some pieces to your teeth, and perhaps an automatic tongue depressor so we can train you not to talk inappropriately — it’s usually more comfortable than a gag. When the reins are attached to a good bridle you’ll know exactly where we want you to go, and when to speak.”
     James trotted out to the end of his leash, sat down, and tried to get his fingers under the belt in the back where he could reach. He stood up, trotted back to the post, turned backward and tried to push the post down.
     Libikzi said, “Hmm, I think maybe we’ll have to drill your teeth a little to make a good fit. Maybe pull a couple.”
     “No,” said James, “you can’t do that. It’s ridiculous, it’s…”
     “Another demerit,” said Libikzi, “but then there’s an alternative…”
     “Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James, “what’s the alternative?”
     “Well, you do have large fleshy earlobes. We could steer you by your ears,” said Libikzi.
     “Are you nuts?” said James. “What are you doing…you’re all crazy. Let me go. You’re going to pay for this, you lunatics.” James trotted out to the end of his leash and pulled. Then he trotted up and back looking for something he could use as a tool or weapon. There was nothing within reach.
     “Two demerits, James,” said Libikzi. “So, shall we fit you for a bridle now?”
     “No, Pevfexo Libikzi,” said James.
     “Very well then,” said Libikzi. She gave a signal. Two Yacmyeep swabbed his ear lobes with antiseptic and anesthetic. “Hold still. We don’t want to rip your lobes.” The Yacmyeep punched out large holes in the center of each lobe, removing a chunk of flesh. They cleaned it and then used a rivet gun to install large earrings. They walked away admiring their work.
     James trotted out to the end of his leash, shaking his head. He trotted back.
     Libikzi said, “You are wild. You’ll make a good filly. I think you’ll win the race, but we don’t want to put the cart before horse. We’ll see how well you can pull the cart later.”
     Libikzi turned to the Yacmyeep, “That’s enough for now. Let’s all go to lunch.” They left James alone to trot about. Yenkoi and I and our entourage went to lunch.