The Epic Poem [home] [contents] [comments] [discussion] [shop]
       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner



    Argos, in Deepest Space.

    "How blessed a creature," thinks Kara,
    "on whose entrails Rao should imprint
    the image of things long ago done,
    that, in sacrifice, we might rerun
    the evidence, and our tomorrows tint
    with reverence cautionary.  Zola!,"
    she shouts, lifting the furry vermin,
    "I send you thus to the Sun Prince!"
    She murmurs an incantation,
    guts the zola and makes libation
    on the altar coals.  These ignite.
    She looks into the bubbling blood
    through their dark red light.


      Into the Hall of Wisdom Jor-El strode
      and the dais mounted.  The Alchemen
      arrayed around him stiffened at his pose.
      It appeared he'd not repent.  He'd
      hold fast to his dissent and oppose them.
      None living had seen the like.
      "For vain delusions," Beaker Re-Zun
      to the Recorder whispered:

        "This youth
         defies communal peace and procedures
         customary.  He posits presumed 'truths'
         with no such authority, and endure
         it we shall not.  Panic would ensue
         should he publish his conclusions,
         or the people will this body mock.
         Our Revolution's no laughingstock!  His
         laboratory work shall in seclusion
         not reflective, not pensive this time,
         but in chill solitude's confines result.
         Stifle conscience and the law's confusion!
         To his crime's surcease must we catapult!"

      But Jor-El spoke first and broke the quiet:

      --    Noble seekers, fellows who this room
            do fill.  I will not retract,
            but do my claim repeat
            for it is fact: Krypton is doomed!

      Their gathered, aged faces loomed
      larger in their rage
      than they'd ere before seemed, as,
      in every conceivable ill term,
      they denounced him. 
      Then Re-Zun stilled the ruckus.

      --    Order, order, please brethren!
            Jor-El, you disappoint me.
            This deranged scheme to truck us
            all off to Earth in great 'space arks?'
            Were we to embark on it, a better
            destination you surely could find
            than that galactic backwater,
            and a more practical kind
            of transportation.  But, these are moot
            objections.  The Committee of Seven
            found our recent tremors to be rooted
            in the shifting of Krypton's orbit.
            Nothing more.  Can't you accept that?

      He could not.
      "This planet will explode in ninety days,"
      he said, and renewed the fray.
      Jor-El listened to them as they brayed:
      --    Doomsdayer!    --    Alarmist!
      --    Gloomsayer!    --    Raoist!

      Then they appointed an eleven
      member Commission of Judgment.
      The panel were quick jurors. 
      They either ignored
      the main precedents or
      held them inapposite.  The rescue
      of ancient Urrika's populace
      from the waters of the Great Deluge
      was mere myth, they said, and traced
      the "prophet" Jaf-El's "winged beasts"
      to subsequent beatings of breast
      by arrogant El family rulers.
      After their summary "investigation"
      the foreman, Din-Bet,
      the Alcheman from West Ju-dee,
      pronounced sentence,
      announcing that the defendant would get
      to keep quiet and avoid banishment.
      Jor-El chewed it over, contempt
      concealed, and answered.  "Neither I,
      nor my wife, will attempt migration,"
      he said.  "We will remain silent."

    (Kara thinks it odd, Jor-El's stress
     on subjects.  The clauses impress
     her -- it is an oath sworn with care --
     and she averts her stare
     to ponder:  Had Jor-El in mind
     another, who could have fled
     yet left intact this solemn vow?
     Who?  And, where would that one be now?
     Eyes reddened by the altar's glare,
     she almost misses the defrocking.)

      The Hall itself gently rocking
      under another tremor,
      the Recorder spoke, icily.
      "Condemned to family quarters
       until further notice," said he,
      and Re-Zun rapped the gavel.
      The Councilors all swiveled
      in their seats -- the ritual
      not one to be watched with glee --
      Din-Bet stepped into the circle,
      removed Jor-El's royal blue sash,
      and with that emblem of status
      in the brotherhood of Science
      he lashed the excommunicatee.
      Once, twice, thrice,
      El's cheeks he whacked,
      then joined he his colleagues
      in showing his back.
      Jor-El exited, no lack
      of swagger to his stride.
      Rao's hidden legions
      have never wanted for pride;
      he marched right to a chapel
      under Kandor's east side
      and there branded a zola
      with his blood, the date, and the time.
      No act of depravity this,
      for, once smuggled to Argos
      aboard a cloaked freighter,
      the beast would give up its ghost,
      and the priests, or his posterity,
      would know that Jor-El had lost
      without becoming a traitor.
      Against neither the gods he was sworn to,
      nor the stiff-necked people he served
      had the eldest El committed any crime.

    Now Kara knows this tale sublime.
    Lost in thought, she sweeps zo' remnants
    from the altar, intones the proper
    blessings and leaves the sodium cove,
    closing the azure brick door behind her.
    In her chamber she undresses.
    Dropping her priestess' robes,
    she looks into a glass, and wonders.
    Who can she assign the task
    of finding whom she now suspects
    may yet live -- her cousin, the last
    male El?  At Earth the inspection
    must begin (the place obsessed
    Jor-El); but, facts known, or guessed,
    about it pre-Holocaust
    were lost
    in the priestly insurrection.
    Traveling through the Phantom Zone
    the planet can be accessed,
    but who'd assume the risks posed
    by such a venture?  None known
    to her.  She rings for a handmaiden.
    There is no wait.  Her servants
    are quick, and the best of the lot
    tonight is on call...!  She's the one!
    What's her name, the former actress?
    The door opens.  "My mistress?,"
    says the maid, and Kara recalls
    and says, "All will be well
    if you'll but travel, dear."

    --    The journey will try you; naught to fear.
          Rao will reward you, make your name renown
          as once it was upon the world profane.
          Go now.  Make refrain at an oracle near,
          for, come morn the High Priest will hear
          destiny clear
          and ring for you as I just did here.
          See it!  (Kara clasps the golden cord.)
          Not for me doth this bell toll.
          It tolls for thee, Lyla Lerrol!

    So taken aback is she,
    Lyla drops Kara's washing bowl.
    Henceforth, she'll need to be
    more sturdy.  'Tis a worthy goal.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 

NEXT CANTO <font size=-1>NEXT CANTO</font>

Superman The American Way Cap!
The Epic Poem


Powered by