The Kings of Fire and Ice
He dreamed of Hell, the land of slaves and workers. He dreamed in circular time, from Hell to Republic to Heaven to Kingdom and back to Hell; a wheel turning in place, causation linked into a loop. He dreamed of a Time-Loop, finite but endless, and within it Hell, the abyss of chaos.
Hell is unhappy and ashamed. Hell is unhappy because it’s poor and nothing’s paid for. Hell is truth known too late. It’s all about the pain of shame.
In Hell, the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and the managers are Italian. Hell has Australian boorishness, North American greed, South American corruption, Asian politics, European wars, African poverty and Antarctic climate. Hell’s religion is as reactionary as Confucianism, as vague as Taoism, as racist as Hinduism, as aloof as Buddhism, as fanatical as Islam, as bitter as Judaism, and as savage as Christianity. Its favorite sports are boxing and pro-wrestling.
Hell runs a hard school, but its lessons stick. O fortunate fall, O blessed vigilance, that turns a kingdom into a republic! Hell has bad neighbors, but they make good fences. By rigor of necessity Hell guides the mind from shameful cynicism to healing skepticism. Thus Hell redeems itself, in the end.
That’s Hell’s only virtue; it ends.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Two kings came to fight
at a prearranged time and a prearranged place;
two kings massed their armies
with programmed weapons
on a programmed channel
for a programmed outcome;
two falling kings.
The King of the South spoke first;
“I am Fire;
I burn, I blast, I char, I consume;
I am the power that destroys utterly.
See this ash heap? That was an enemy.
Resist and I shall devour you;
Submit and I shall devour you;
For I want you, I need you, I desire you,
You must be mine.
Bid your life farewell;
Know me for your death.
For I am the blazes;
I am the inferno;
I am alchemical flame;
I am the heat at the heart of the stars.”
The King of the North coldly replied:
“I am Ice;
I fix, I arrest, I congeal, I freeze;
I am the power that preserves forever.
See this statue? That was an enemy.
You shall not resist me;
You shall not submit to me;
For I don't want you, I don't need you, I don't desire you,
You are mine already.
Bid your life farewell;
You'll never know what hit you.
For I am the darkness;
I am the night;
I am cryogenic chill;
I am the cold of interstellar space.”
The Fire King frowned.
Red flames licked at his hair, his shoulders,
The machine-gun slung across his back,
While blood dripped off his hands and boots.
He said, “O dark Satanic king, know this;
Blessed be War!
Holy be killing!
How sweet and gentle it is to die for me!
What lovely music death-screams make!
How heavenly it is to die fighting!
It is a joy I have often given
Though never yet received myself.
Thank God I am not like the others!
For who else would stand up to you?
Who else would have the courage?
For I am a proud servant of the Sword;
Everybody knows my deeds;
I march in at the break of dawn;
I rape, pillage, and loot, unashamed.
Is it not my right to do this?
How sweet the profit!
History calls me; destiny beckons;
You shall (I know not how!) be defeated;
And I in turn shall likewise rise.
You and I are a match made in Paradise,
For which I must thank you;
This is personal.”
The Ice King smiled.
Blue crystals frosted his hair, his shoulders,
The cell-phone at his hip,
And his hands and shoes were spotless.
He said, “You mad damn fool, know this;
Accursed be War!
Unholy be murder!
What agony my victims suffer!
How ugly and bitter their dying cries!
War is Hell, and the State is the Devil!
Reluctantly I go to war
And ruthlessly I wage it.
God help me, a sinner!
But who else shall stop you?
Who else has the means?
For I am a coward of the long kill;
Nobody knows my deeds;
I fly in under cover of night;
I release my missiles and escape, unobserved.
What right have I to do this?
How steep the cost!
History compels me; fate looms;
You shall (I know quite well) be defeated;
And I in turn shall likewise fall.
You and I are a match made in Hell,
And therefore I must punish you;
Two kings came to fight;
a mad king and a sad king.
Two bad kings came to fight
to claim this royal title:
“The Lesser Evil”.