The Song Of Harpokrates
a story by
At the height of a great precipice, laboring silently and strongly against the possessive black holds of Orion, sat and loomed an Old Man of impossible age; and the Old Man fathered no single progeny of sound, but preferred to recall the calm of the limitless, eon-bound sky with all its ghosts and infinities – the temperance of the world below burned as though fed by meals of coal and ember, for all the people of the land had long forgotten the recipes of whisper and fellowship.
It became that turmoil spoiled the tongues and appetites of the community, and where penitence reigned formerly as magistrate to the illness of deed, behaviors knavish and rude triumphed and were called as virtuous by the ruling hands.
In darkness men would struggle themselves unto the figures of women, and in light they were made to laugh at their actions and revel interminably. And the Old Man took in the scope of these cruelties and issued not a sigh or corrective word.
For centuries the Old Man posted at the lip of the powerful precipice, observing carefully the dreadful injuries committed by and unto man, until it were that a visitor privileged him with an invitation to speak; and the Old Man, conscience bloated and fat with all things sad and impolite, offered silence to the interviewer.
“Why is it you do not speak, frail old man?” questioned the interviewer of the world below. “Is it perhaps you prefer the malaise of irresponsibility to the busyness and toil of proper and right citizenship?”
The Old Man acknowledged these words but said nothing.
“Your insolence is magnificent, yet I shouldn’t be too soon in disarming you of that such childishness; you will either produce a specimen of discourse, or, that not being so, the famine of your words will doubtless introduce me to enact violence.”
The Old Man drew his lips in a muted frown as the flesh of the moon slipped over black space, blistering the sky with a pellucid dignity.
“Strange old man with your dead voice – are not too your thoughts and superstitions of this new world but stores of enmities and confusions, outmoded like the nebulae your very eyes sip on, or the constellations, hobby-things of Hipparchus, that spin the stuff of your dreams?”
Repairing to custom, the Old Man conceded not to issue a sound– the interviewer, upon collecting no reaction, stamped his foot to the padded earth and matured his voice to stertorous deeps.
“What phase of your ambition impels you to laughter, to the expression of simple joy? Are you tolerably immune to the vices of emotion, or the swollen emissaries of vengeance, that Pharoah-figure of vitriol – but, or could it possibly be, have you lent yourself to gross senility?”
The Old Man remained in silence.
“I won’t any longer inveigh against your impudence; you have in your contempt demonstrated all divorces from learned community; obsolete fool! You who choose to parry my questions and demean the humility of discourse; you who threaten to preserve the nostalgia of men!”
Here the interviewer accosted the Old Man and sent him over the scaffolding of the precipice to the vast below; and on that way the Old Man shrieked and protracted agonizing sounds, and the moonlight stiffened and traced the descent, and the stars ruptured and fired limbs of harsh noise into the ether as the sick vomiting of Polaris pealed through the void.
And there, on the lip of that great, undisturbed precipice, the gross figure of a man kept vigil under the inky tenements of Orion, uttering no sound, but learning the melodies of the dust and the vespers of the wind – and time passed, and he grew old; and the world below waxed on.
Harley Lethalm is an autodidact who cut his teeth on Lovecraft, Poe, Aickman, and other Gothic writers before graduating to Sartre and Hemingway, all of this literature giving him a basis for his present admiration for Bukowski, Ginsberg, and similar Beat Poets as well as the Psalms, Isaiah, and other Biblical writings. A recent endeavor, now that his first novel has been slated by City Lights, is to bring the quarter-century-old writings of former Hollywood poet Scáth Beorh to light via the manuscript ‘Little Whores.’