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January 7, 2010

by Stuart Barnes

Beware of the rule of 3
What you give will get back at you
This lesson you must learn
You only get what you deserve
—The Rule of Three

That pernicious only child of the God of Plagues and Chaos glued with Araldite a raptor-gleam
In my priest’s whisky-eye, moulded into a masturbator his cold, wet fish of a fist,
Whispered slyly in my left ear, “Little boy, run like blazes! While you can, vamos, get the hell

Out of here!” then disappeared. Like a Red-backed bitch on heat on her hands and knees, I prayed
To Mr. Pilate, who whispered insidiously in my right ear, “Where’s the little bastard? —
For I must burn his Birkenstocks and shear those ratty dreadlocks from his head.”

I led him to the olive-moated mountain, where I kissed that son of the God of Plagues and Chaos on his grimy cheek.


The Marys wept like cut grass as the sacred nails pierced the child’s wrists and a sword slid in his side.
“Serves you right,” I muttered, “for your father bore not only good, but its opposite, its other.”

Ghastly daffodils, apples strung up in her courtyard, purple crocus shoving through frost and glass;
In a stucco council flat with a crib of pink-eyed rats and nine metres of Burmese snakes —
Splotches like burnt-orange zeppelins, squirmed to “Whitey” and “Old Nick” — lived Mary, mad

And quite contrary. Bat-winged, bloody-eyed as her two sisters, crouched on a corner
Of the marbled kitchen table with black needles and bales she knitted: an eggshell-blue
Cloak, a sky of motes, an executioner’s hood. The air was fouled by her breath, the light a sickly yellow.

Spryly that headswoman swooped to the herringbone floor, molded beneath her cauldron
Of herbs a pyramid of hieroglyphics, dry grass and sticks, fanned the language and tinder
With her terrible white bellows, and muttered dementedly, “Rise, rise, my dead fellow.”

Man in black, man in black, like Ted Hughes or Johnny Cash, man in a silly Jewish hat,
No wifely striptease for that man in black, only the everyday soul-impaling, the hailing and flaying,
Nailing wooden curlicues, Alpha and Omega, and ampersands. With hair like grey rats

And a staff of flowers, he hobbled and wobbled and cobbled and toiled for hours
For his Gothic queen bee. Eyes could no longer see, feet were swollen as plums,
Hands were like two balloons. He thought, No wonder I despise the Jews.


“In-sig-nif-i-cant,” oozed Her Majesty to the man in black, “a flea, an Australian Aborigine.
You crawl lower than a dog, you can’t compete with this God.” The man in black’s grief grew around him
Like the Sea of Galilee. He made a wish, whispered sadly, “This earth’s better off without me.”

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The title quote is taken from the introduction to “Silence” from the Portishead album Third. The other quote — “Hands were like two balloons” — is taken from Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, from The Wall LP. (Qarrtsiluni asserts that this creative reuse is permitted under the Fair Use provision of U.S. copyright law, which is applicable because our hosting provider, Automattic Inc., is based in the U.S.)

Stuart Barnes (webpage) graduated from Monash University, Australia with a Bachelor of Arts (Literature, Philosophy). His unpublished memoir, A Cold Decade, was shortlisted for the Olvar Wood Fellowship Award. He’s editing his first book of poetry and writing his first novel.

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