Total Oblivion

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Long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and finalist for the Crawford Award. Title short story listed for the 2000 O. Henry award.

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The Palinomicon (introduction)

I debated where I should blog about this or not, but here goes.

A couple of days ago I received a package from Juneau, Alaska — its ends taped over with duct tape several times over, my address written on a black magic marker, in a tight, clipped scrawl (without my name) and with no return address. The package smelled like bug spray. A little bit scared, I nonetheless cut open the package, and cutting into the layers it felt like I was back in 8th grade dissecting a frog. Anyway, inside was a modest-size, 3-ring binder from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and in the binder were a series of photocopied pages. Maybe 40 or 50. I flipped through it and it became clear to me that someone had photocopied pages of a book — and a book of such design that even now, writing this, I am afraid to contemplate. The first page depicted a cover, and this one was the blurriest of them all, since it appeared the cover had bumps and ridges. On the cover was a single line of a text from an alphabete that I couldn’t decipher, almost looking like cyrillic that had sat in the sun too long and melted a little. Rather helpfully, though, a post it note — also part of the photocopy — explained that “See here!!! it says ‘The Palinomicon.’”

Though the very thought of actually holding this book in my hands filled me with dread, even flipping through a copy of the book — a ghost of it, if you will — still greatly unsettled me. The book was a cauldron of alternating English and the aforementioned script, each page containing verses (spells?) and paeans to barely discernible, devilish forces that the author of the book somehow took to be, at times, angelic and beneficient. I could not think of a more terrifying cosmological thesis to structure one’s mad inhabitations of language.

I said “the author”, but perhaps that is too hasty-the grimioire oft refers to a “we.” Is this an ambiguous cabal of spectral collaboration? Or the abject id-ramblings of a meglomaniac’s “royal we”?

I don’t even know if I have the entire Palinomicon in my possession, or whether the person who sent it to me decided to keep some of it away from me. The more dangerous parts? Were there even more dangerous parts then the ones in my possession?

Whatever the case, I do hope to share select portions of The Palinomicon with you, as I believe it could be — no matter how foolish it sounds — the missing key to unlock the door of the unholy mysteries of this season. It might not provide an explanation as much as an illuminiation, however twilit and tenebrous, into the powers and forces set in motion far, far north, under the auroras.

A Word to the Wary: a frontspiece

We are signed in darkness by gold.
We have faith in this book, its spine.
It writes us checks and signs.
On the last night we shall be first
and the first night we shall be the first.
This is the testament, the night’s will.
The power’s will. The will’s oil.
With a little help, we pour and burn.
No one will protect us otherwise.
We harvest the wolves in moonlight,
stitch their tongues together for
this cover, the jerky of Beelzebub.
Paws down! No one look around.
The paper is caribou and pancake
breakfast leaflets,
cremated all-together, then breathed
Upon by tasered polar bear.
Soon we will be breathed upon
by the glaciers of Lucifer.
Will you help?? Damage reality
while the world burns its own.
We are not its own.
The book is heavy, and we
Are holding up the light. Reader, submit as if
your [feel at peace in the middle
at war with otters] were not your own.
Go binge darknessing and rig.
No other way to read out of it.
Hope for a thoughtless life
troubled by the enemy inside you.
It pushes you, but push the angel
into the hound. On your spine,
write the word NOWHERE.
We are on the bridge, there.

Wed, September 24 2008 » Poetry, Polis

4 Responses

  1. Sarah September 25 2008 @ 8:10 pm

    Thou shalt not read my book. Send it back, poet, or the dog gets it.

  2. Haddayr September 26 2008 @ 3:58 pm

    bwaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha

  3. Liz September 30 2008 @ 2:00 pm

    I’ll second that:

    bwaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha hahahahahaha

  4. Lucy October 10 2008 @ 5:34 am

    Muuuhahahaha haaa

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  1. THE PALINOMICON RETURNS | Goblin Mercantile Exchange February 21 2010 @ 3:18 pm

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