The Gorgon version two.

This one appeared in ‘Fears of the Old and the New’ under my fiction name H. K. Hillman. It first appeared on the Blogspot blog in November 2008.

Since all the good stories are already taken today and I don’t have time to scour the papers for the less well covered ones, I’ve done a quick update to this post, with a few topical inclusions, and reposted it here.

The original is out of copyright, and this one is free to any who feel like copying it or, better still, improving it.

Now I have to go and find the average and standard error of some shades of green.

The original: http://www.heise.de/ix/raven/Literature/Lore/TheRaven.html
The Gorgon, by Eddie Legiron Po.

 

Once upon a winter dreary, while I starved with eyes all bleary,
Over candles, lighting fags I’d lit five times before,
While I tugged my threadbare wrapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis a canvasser,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Bugger off, and call no more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember on the first of that December,
When the newest tax surprises meant the booze would flow no more.
Sober now and full of sorrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From the bank a small amount of ready cash, but they said ‘No’ –
Now with credit torn asunder, credit cards all stamped ‘no more’ –
Penniless for evermore.

Of more tax we can be certain, from that man behind the curtain,
He who holds the country in the terror of three thousand laws.
Badger-man it seems is speaking, of his strings our glimpse is fleeting,
Now I fear the Tazermen have come to batter down my door –
Fully charged, those trigger fingers itch there just outside my door –
Pain and death enforce the law.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, or whatever stands outside my door;
Tell me those aren’t jackboots tapping, say it’s not a Zapman rapping,
For I fear I may start crapping, crapping here upon the floor,
As with those who came before’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal was allowed  to dream by law
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the outer door, still broken, bore the marks of boots galore
And the sign upon it fluttered ‘Insulate this. It’s the law.’
Green and spiteful Council law.

Back into the chamber turning, green-taxed heater barely burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window hoarding;
Are the jackboots at my boarding, coming back to tax me more?
Maybe even Jacq the Ripper, checking here for trace of whore?
To name and shame for evermore.

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a one-eyed gorgon of the Monster days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, squatted down upon the floor –
Sat beside a pile of mended phones that lay upon the floor –
Scowled, and sulked, and nothing more.

Then his dark-ringed eye and whining coaxed my tired face into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance he wore,
`Fleeing now from expense haven, thou,’ I said, `art surely craven.
Ghastly grim and dull brown gorgon wandering from Westmonster shore –
Tell me now thy devious game, but do thy utmost not to bore!’
Quoth the gorgon, `Spend some more.’

Much I marvelled at this ugly beast to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no benefit-fed being
Ever yet was cursed with seeing gorgon squatted on his floor –
Creature brown and one-eyed dodging questions there upon his floor,
With such talk as ` Spend some more.’

But the gorgon, sitting lonely on the bare wood floor, spoke only,
That one line, as if his soul in that one line he did outpour.
Nothing sensible he uttered – incoherently he muttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `This brown beast must stay no more –
On the morrow he must leave me, taking all I have and more.’
Quoth the gorgon, ` Spend some more.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some wide-grinning Monster who escaped from this disaster
Running fast and talking faster till his grin one message bore –
Till the dirges of our hope that melancholy message bore
Of “Spend some—spend some more.”‘

Then the gorgon started smiling, cackling and phones a-piling,
Straight I wheeled a State-built seat in front of gorgon on the floor;
Then, upon the hard wood squirming, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this brown Monster of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, Monster upon my floor
Meant in croaking ` Spend some more.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the foul and fiery eye that burned into my wallet’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my neck in cramp and turning
While the heater ceased its burning and its coin-slot begged for more,
But my wallet, once so certain but which now, with lining tore,
Cash shall fill, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
But it was the gorgon sitting, farting there upon the floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `that Blair hath sent thee here to torment, tease and tax me,
Terrorise and benefit-trap me with some pointless made-up law!
Here to gas and suffocate me, boost my carbon footprint more!’
Quoth the gorgon, `Spend some more.’

`Monster!’ said I, `thing of evil! – monster still, reptile or devil! –
Whether Tony sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Bogies from thy nose collected, on my floor in line all planted –
In this home by Council haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Are there – are there banks still solvent? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the gorgon, `Spend some more.’

`Monster!’ said I, `thing of evil! – monster still, reptile or devil!
By that roof that sags above us – by that Blair the fools adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant London,
There lives still Threadneedle’s maiden aunt with vaults of gold in store –
Is it true that maiden still has pennyworths of gold in store?’
Quoth the gorgon, `Spend some more.’

`Be that line our sign of parting, one-eyed fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the dark Westmonster shore!
Leave no bogie as a token of the lies thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my property unbroken! – quit that farting on my floor!
Take thy hand from out my phones, and take thy arse from off my floor!’
Quoth the gorgon, `Spend some more.’

And the gorgon, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
Blowing gas to boost emissions there upon my chamber floor;
And his eye has all the seeming of a loony’s that is dreaming,
And the phones lie scattered, smashed on wall and floor and chair and door;
And my earnings, once sufficient, taxed now down to bare wood floor,
Shall recover – nevermore!

 

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