The Oracle’s Advisor – 2nd draft

1
Inside the Convent, in a cage,
slept an oracle and sage,
A candle guttered as she muttered,
praying, the visions came.
Wave after wave,
in multiform —
Deluge of fire and of storm
And of clouds which took the form
Of horses braying, gnashing teeth,
a crown of thorns worn by the Beast
On a dead star, far off, then,
A djinn with a crown in a cape and a shroud,
with apostles kneeling gathered round,
Prostrated with their hands raised,
gesturing,
To Heaven high with gleaming rings;
A greater heaven,
for it to come,
The world below must be undone.
2
The oracle wondered, wandering round
The stonewalled corridors in her gown
What could this djinn, this demon, be?
Of what heaven did he seek?
One of glory and of peace,
Or one of horrors, gnashing teeth,
of silent eons, trapped beneath
Where slept the sinners in the rain
a pawn at play in Shaitan’s game
swaddled like a newborn in their sickly neon flames
Everything burns, they say, why bother;
But the oracle knew one truth:
not water.
3
She passed at last beside the stream
To read the scrolls of the Sibylline;
the chronicle of their order, of portents and of dreams,
and looking down into the pool,
at the reflection of a fool,
she saw the coming of a storm,
of Hannibal’s columns of ruin and Rome
Of Goths who sacked the forum twice
And Gauls who came with ax and knife
Deluge of fire, gnashing teeth,
a river red ran through the streets
The waters shifted and she saw
The king of djinns upon the star
Of Araffaya from afar
Poised beneath the seventh heaven
an army there which had declared
a war to wage on God.
4
To build temples to chaos and cults to reason
Bewitch the tides, unbalance seasons
Til darkness comes in daytime
and stretches on for years
Until the angels and their host
Were submerged and forced below
To live as demons did upon that star long dead
With envy in one’s heart, to live for all in dread
Desire, that pernicious flame
that pushes one towards fortune, fame,
With this vision, she recoiled,
and strolled back to her cage
God, for whom one has to wait–
the devil however is never late.
5
With a page of the ancient scrolls,
she lit a candle and foretold
Apollo, Adonai, Allah, Jehovah, speak!
Of the Hell they flee and Heaven they seek!
And how in seeking one they find,
The other always, please remind.
The fight for heaven makes it hell,
It drains the lands, the soldiers, wells,
And leaves them in the trench, do tell;
Of how in seeking heaven everyone finds Hell
6
The oracle thought about this for a time,
Recited a prayer and calmed her mind
And left her cage neat as she came,
walked from the compound out the gate,
Across the city, pass the lake,
Beneath a moon of alabaster gleaming in a cloudless sky
Where children ran and played their games
where newborns laughed and cried
Through the forests, to the woods,
to the cabin of Apollo where she stood,
and she waited by the tree,
with the paper and her and her pen,
she wrote the question in the wind;
and with a match she struck the flame,
burned it all and sat to wait
To wait on God outside the Gate
7
A timeless voice stirred in the air
ran down her back and through her hair
It spake; above on Araffaya
The king of djinns baptized by fire
As it has been through all time,
They have waged war within our minds
and now they wait outside the gate,
to threaten those inside
To fight for heaven, they divide;
To fight for peace, they make their hell
And remake it in their sight,
to make of darkness their own light
On the long dead star of Araffaya,
the kingdom of demons and fountains of fire
Will find heaven only when
The joy of others hits the wind.
8
The voice died out, Apollo ceased,
and vanished through a tempest of leaves
And as she made her way back home,
the oracle thought hard and long;
and at the convent, in a bath,
scented and sweet, she had a laugh;
and thought it might be fair, to greet,
the devil himself, to invite him to speak
To hear the side of those who strived
To pay the price for Heaven
even if it was their life.
9
Always on time, the devil, she thought,
While Apollo kept one on hold;
Punctual Shaitan waited in line,
Outside the cavern with his pipe
In a suit of silk in a pin-striped tie
He bid her good morning with a courteous nod,
And took off his shoes when invited inside,
sat by the windowsill smiling and quiet;
He said, “Pain is an essential part of your life,
You know”
The devil sipped his tea.
10
“For those who were born in bliss enthralled,
think all who fight are doomed to fall;
And because of that we must remain,
On that dead star in the rain,
Below the haven in the waste,
Always knowing, face to face,
With what we cannot have, our place
was made for us to be below,
to be trampled on by those who, blessed,
by providence, and nothing less,
Think that what they took was theirs for free,
Their slice of heaven, as it is,
must exclude, it’s always been,
a place unwelcome for a djinn.
11
For it to be a holy place,
we must be kept outside, to waste,
And yet it’s wrong for us to fight–
To risk eons in the dark for a spot in the hall of light.
And with a nod and solemn bow,
the oracle said goodbye and escorted Shatan out
And returned to her own cage,
where slept this mistress, and this sage,
Who took a vow to wisdom,
in the hope that it might free,
her from envy, and of shame
but the cost of freedom was the chain
to the scrolls both new and old
By the calm stream in the cold.
12
Returning the book she passed it again
and looked down in the stream, and then,
Saw a legion of demons rise
Pass through a wall of light and fire
Into the hall of light and there
The holy host broke off their song
and wailing filled the halls of stone
As the djinn with the cape and shroud
Took the throne and, sitting proud,
Cast the holy host of angels out
And Apollo who had spake,
Cast out of his own hall to wait,
Now on the dead star in the rain,
through the water, through the pain
the price of freedom was the chain.

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