in these far-off days


a crow appears to be a peacock
a trough of water    an inland sea
harsh clattering masquerades as music
enmity as goodwill
insults as loving kindness
the demolition of welfare
as a caring Big Society
and so on and so forth

when the chewing of poppy-seeds
was forbidden with relentless severity
the incidence of chewing increased
by the day          out of curiosity

and there were white points
in the veil of the world
which was supported like a canopy
on special pillars resting on the planet

to encourage the comfort
and infinite satisfaction of self-calming
was invented a most original
religious doctrine which has Mister God
on a large island called Paradise
full of young & lovely men & women
who may have each other for the asking

rivers whose banks are made of honey
run with milk there; in public squares
there are heaps of jewels
diamonds & turquoises
to which you can help yourself
since you’re signed up with the right party;
huge mountains of sweetmeats
made with essence of poppy & hemp
yours for the taking…

and there’s a smaller island nearby
called Hell where Mister God
dispatches all those who have been lazy
in a manner of speaking
in their temporary earthly existence

there rivers are burning pitch
the atmosphere stinks like a skunk at bay
swarms of horrible beings
blow police whistles in every square
and all carpets chairs & beds
are made of needles pointing upwards

each soul gets a very salty biscuit
once a day but no water

nobody doubted the truth of all this
since the invention had taken root;
spirits wearing caps of invisibility
walk among us observing all our deeds
and thoughts reporting everything
to Mister God so we must watch our p’s & q’s

Variations on an extract from Gurdjieff’s Tales Chapter 20

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