For the overture imagine a clarinet a clarinet so long you have to stand on a ladder to play it and then imagine a loaf of bread and a waffle iron a clarinet you have to stand on a ladder to play and a waffle iron in the key of G# major and a loaf of bread the size of a piano a Steinway maybe or a Bosendorfer and the waffle iron in G# major announces the arrival of the Prince who has been hunting field mice in Lithuania and is cold and hungry from his unsuccessful efforts and now the court beautician joins in playing The Entrance of the Prince (Without a Mouse) on the great loaf of bread from which the Prince tears off small pieces to dip in a bowl of Claret several bottles of which his father the King removed from the cellars of the Count of Caravecchio whose entire family he (the King) murdered in a fit of pique over a croquet match gone sour meanwhile a large but dexterous pig trained at Julliard has climbed the ladder and is playing the clarinet however not in G# major which angers the waffle iron but the waffle iron does not allow the porcine reedist to ruffle its (the waffle iron’s) composure and adroitly transposes to G# minor when the Prince was a minor well a major prince but a minor kid he became fascinated with Lithuanian field mice and hence his recent excursion to that country for the purpose of meeting up with said rodents sadly (for the Prince) the rodents themselves every single one of them are vacationing on the Croatian coast near a band of insurance executives who came to explore an alternative lifestyle but find that they go into delirium tremens every time they are 39 inches or more away from their wallets or their major credit cards the rodents kindly suggest a 12-step program to help them (the insurance executives) overcome their addiction to which suggestion the insurance executives respond that the American people should fuck themselves and they (the insurance executives) return to their previous lives and pursue honorary degrees from Harvard Business School an institution whose sole purpose is to assure its students that they are smarter than everybody else and thus deserving of the profits from their crimes against humanity the departure of the insurance executives is a great relief to the proletarian Lithuanian field mice for they don’t cotton to oligarchs who are in addition to being members of the rape-pillage-plunder class stupefyingly dull Wallace Stevens notwithstanding while Lithuanian field mice in addition to their class consciousness are easily the most well-read and highly cultivated of all rodents and there’s nothing they appreciate more than the old give-and-take about Marx or Dostoyevsky in fact it was Lithuanian field mice who started the book group craze on cold winter nights they would come from all over the country to the capital of Lithuania which is not Rekyavik and gather inside the walls of bookshops for nightlong discussions of great works of philosophy and literature while competing with each other over who could bring the best bits of dessert and when as a minor the major Prince got wind of these Lithuanian field-mouse book clubs he was electrified and saw his chance at last to have a genuine meaningful conversation with someone because as is well known people who spend their lives hanging around palaces are not only completely useless they are also utterly brainless and insipid and by some freak of nature the Prince was born with a little more than half a brain making him an intellectual giant among his kind and it used to drive him nuts when all anybody he knew ever talked about was Necco wafers and horses with the names Botulism and Catarrh and on the day he finished reading Those Crazy Guys and Gals from Troy he said to no one in particular By Jove I’d love to have a good discussion about this book and was overheard by the guy who folded his burritos for him who turned out to be an amateur zoologist and told the Prince about the Lithuanian field mice and thence began the Prince’s lifelong quest every few weeks heading for the capital of Lithuania which is not Ulan Bator but so far he has been quite unlucky because each time he goes the Lithuanian field mice flee to Croatia for a vacation for they mistakenly but quite understandably believe that the Prince comes not to join them in their tête-á-tête-á-tête-á-tête-á-tête-á-têtes but to eat them for besides being the most intelligent of rodents they are also the most delicious and many’s the poor Lithuanian field mouselet who has grown up without a Mumsy or a Popsy because Mumsy and Popsy have been rounded up by the culinary minions of the ruling class and made into mousemeat pies available only in the finest most exclusive restaurants so the Lithuanian field mice hightail it to Croatia which is not Guniea-Bissau and our poor Prince returns to the palace once again without having engaged in meaningful dialogue and believes himself to be on the verge of going mad and in deep despair sings a hauntingly beautiful lament in G# major and/or minor accompanied by a whole wheat grand piano a waffle iron and a pig on a clarinet
The story goes this way
This is how they tell it
It’s an old story
Now it’s starting
There was a poet
Or maybe he was a painter
This was a long time ago
He drove everybody crazy
Yakkety-yak with his poems all the time
Or maybe it was splashing paint all over everything
It made everybody nuts
They didn’t like it
All those poems keeping them awake half the night
Or maybe it was pictures every place
Even on their furniture and their dogs
At least that’s what they say
That’s the story
And everybody said, Stop it!
Just cut it out! Don’t do it anymore!
All the yakkety-yakking
All the paint flying around
Stop it! they said. Get a job! Do something useful!
Beat your word processor—
Or maybe it was paintbrushes—
But did that poet (or maybe it was a painter) stop?
You already know the answer
Nope Nein Nyet unh-unh No way
The story goes on
Here’s what happens next
They grab that poet
It could have been a painter
They grab that guy by every arm and leg he’s got
And probably some other parts
They grab him and pick him up
About which he is not happy
About which he feels his personal space is being rudely violated
Invaded, trespassed upon
About which he is pissed off
Notwithstanding and nevertheless
The crowd, the throng, the as-it-were mob
Continues the grabbing and lugging and hauling away of this guy
Jim could have been his name
But I doubt it
And they tossed him in a hole in the ground
Threw him down a well
A deep one, really deep
A thousand turtles at least
You should have heard him as he fell
What a racket!
Now the story is about half-way through
More or less
Although as far as that poet who could actually have been a painter is concerned
He’s probably thinking at this point that the end is right around the corner
And he’s singing
All the way down
Singing The Waltz of the Sugar Plum Valkyries
He just belted it out
And the Grand Inquisitor’s Aria
All the goddamn way down
To the bottom of the well
A thousand turtles deep
Oh and by the way
They threw his wife down with him
You can call her Estelle
Although her name is Debbie
What’d she ever do to those folks up there
So they’d throw her down a thousand turtle well?
Marry a poet? Marry a painter? Invent Phenomenology?
Tell the Assistant Chief of Protocol and Conventional Morality
To go fuck a watermelon?
She doesn’t sing down the well
She’s pondering Heidigger and Jean-Paul Sartre
Being and your basic nothingness
Thump! They land
Surprise! They’re not dead
They put their bones back where they belong
And look around
Could this be Hell? the poet/painter reputed to be unJim but not bloody likely asked
Hell, said Debbie, is an elevator full of existentialists
Not half bad, says nonJim, unJim
Nosing around the place
A guy could get used to it here
See, there were fruit trees everywhere
And cellos and brooks and tame gazelles
And plenty of naked people
Oh, you bet, there was nakedness and downright nudity
Just all over the place
In every nook and cranny
And a kind of rosy-fingered light
Just suffusing and suffusing
And those naked people
Oh it was hard to take your eyes off them
Getting to know each other better
Whoopee! howls notJim
And ungarments himself post haste
While Debbie begins deconstructing Jacques Lacan
And wouldn’t you think our purported Jim
Would mix it up with the other nakeds?
Hump a little
Bump a little
Fondle someone’s rump a little?
Hard to believe
But that’s how the story goes
That’s the way it’s always been told
Since the beginning
We’re getting close to the end now
It’s almost over
So naked Jim he just yakkety-haks
Well, he’s a poet, what can you do?
Or maybe a painter Hieronymous Bosching the whole damned place
And you know it drives those naked people nuts
Stop it! Just cut it out!
Don’t do it anymore!
All the yakkety-yak all the flying paint
But did he stop?
You guessed it
So then all the naked people grabbed that guy
And his metaphysical ontological wife
By their various and sundries
Tossed them up that well
A thousand turtles high
Maybe higher, who knows
They fell up and up
Up and up they fell
You wouldn’t think anybody could fall that far
So-called Jim he’s singing up a storm
The Internationale and the Victory March of the Swans
And Debbie does zen koans
You know, like Does a dime have Buddha nature?
And Nanquan cuts the cheese
Things like that
They land on the ground
Right back up there where all this started.
Let that be a lesson to you
Now they story’s over
There’s no more to tell
What’d you expect?
In the myths of parrots it isn’t clear whether God created parrots or the other way around.
The name of the first parrot was All-Over-the-Place, because there was nowhere that parrot wasn’t. All-Over-the-Place has feathers of every color and was not male or female—that came later.
One day All-Over-the-Place thought, “I want to go somewhere.” But since the parrot was already everywhere, there was nowhere else to go. Still, All-Over-the-Place couldn’t get rid of that thought—“I want to go somewhere.”
Then All-Over-the-Place got another thought: “I’ll make a place to go.” So All-Over-the-Place pulled out great clumps of blue and brown and green and gray feathers and bunched them up and threw them away. And those feathers became the world. The blue feathers were the waters and the gray and brown feathers were the land and the green feathers were the trees and grasses and all the other plants.
“Terrific!” All-Over-the-Place exclaimed. “Now I have somewhere to go!” On the way to the new world, All-Over-the-Place noticed something. “Hey, I’m smaller.” It was still a vast parrot, to be sure, but no longer an endless one.
Standing in the very middle of the world, All-Over-the-Place looked around and said, “Not bad. But it needs something more.” Now the parrot pulled out a mass of bright yellow feathers and threw them far above the world, where they became the sun. A smaller bunch of pale yellow feathers thrown in the opposite direction became the moon. Thousands of little white downy feathers became the stars.
“Better,” said All-Over-the-Place, flying around the shiny and shimmer world from east to west, from north to south, from day to night and back to day, admiring the place. And as it flew, All-Over-the-Place noticed that it had grown smaller still.
Days and nights came and went—too many to count. All-Over-the-Place started to get a little bored. “Isn’t this a dazzlingly beautiful world I’ve made?” the parrot asked itself. “Yes, of course,” it answered. “Then why am I feeling so out of sorts, so blues and blah?” it asked. “It’s because… well…I imagine it’s ah…Wait! I know! I know! It’s because I’m the only one here! There’s nobody else to enjoy this with me!”
All-Over-the-Place got busy right away thinking up creatures to fill the world with. That’s when the parrot got the idea for males and females. “I’ll make the first ones, but if they want any more, they’ll have to take care of it themselves.” With its marvelous feathers, All-Over-the-Place began making creatures of every sort. To each one the parrot gave a name and a task.
“Your name is Giraffe,” All-Over-the-Place told the giraffe, “and your job is to rise quietly into the trees.”
“Your name is Human.” All-Over-the-Place said to the human, “and your job is to pay attention.”
“Your name is Starfish,” All-Over-the-Place said to the starfish, “and your job is to live in the sea and to move as slowly as the great constellations.”
“Your name is Heron,” All-Over-the-Place told the heron, “and your job is to know the shape of water.”
All-Over-the-Place created thousands upon thousand upon thousands of beings and gave every one of them a name and a life’s work. And each time it made a new creature,, All-Over-the-Place grew a bit smaller.
In the myths of parrots, it is not clear what All-Over-the-Place did when it could not imagine any more creatures. Some parrots believe that that is when All-Over-the-Place created God and said, “Your name is God and your job is to remember.”
Finally, All-Over-the-Place chose to be female, because she had given birth to the world and everything in it. After she created a mate for herself she saw that she had become the size of an ordinary parrot and she knew that her great powers were spent. All-Over-the-Place changed her name to Just Here and with her mate flew deep into the rain forest to live and die the way everything does.
In the myths of parrots, the humans do not pay attention.
In the myths of parrots, the world breaks and flies apart.
I the myths of parrots, it all becomes parrot again.