Martin Heavisides

So you take a business lunch in the financial district
and two blocks up the street by Manulife Complex
there's an active volcano you'd swear wasn't there a week ago
though other memories differ

"Mt. Mazuma? sure, we've been sacrificing virgins
to that hot hole for donkey's years
Seems to work, it hasn't blown up in our face
since the recession of 1992
Lava, blood, spewed bones and arteries
(you ever see a whole street clogged with crimson arteries?
not a sight you'll soon forget I'll tell you
pullulating like vermillion snakes
we don't know why it happened, just as soon it didn't again)
seriously, the virgins are cool with it, the families
reap medical and pension benefits, I'm even told
(but who can say? participants all mute and stony as is often the case with the dead
testimony would never be accepted in a court of law)
the orgasm when lava meets intact hymen
is so intense it's worth even sudden death
I hope so, it's not as if I wish them ill
but who wants lava streams, three storeys high or thereabouts, immolating
the vital pulse of worldwide commerce in our city
Burst those fleshy hymens! with molten rock streams
if that's what it takes to keep the volcano copacetic
as far as I'm concerned."

"I don't care what anyone says about benefits to survivors
Volcano Virgin's as dead end an occupation as you can get
if it isn't a glass ceiling at the upper end of the employment scale
it's a floor of liquid fire at the lower."

Lightning bolts sear words into a now-deserted commercial highrise
slowly crumbling in still-elegant, ash-highlighted ruin
Words stand out in black where the lightning has struck
fade within minutes but most are recorded
by reporting teams on permanent standby, preserved
by those of them that earthquake doesn't swallow or lava purges
overrun and crisp... is that volcano ever satisfied?
We have a contract for the regular delivery of virgins
if one arrives mere moments late, or turns out not as advertised
we have to scramble in one hot hurry to find another
Is that any reason to violate the terms of our agreement
signed in ink and ash, judicially binding fiduciary terms
belch rocks into the upper storeys of towers and lava
in street-wide streams, at rush hour even?
You can't imagine the upheavals
congestion of major arteries from diversion
cars popping into flame, at a distance they resemble candles
stink of gasoline fumes, days and weeks after, embedded in lava ash
we'd be well within our rights to sue > Do it in a minute
if a volcano had any capital assets to seize

"Most women of eligible age for employment
don't qualify as Volcano Virgins, so what's to stop them rising in the ranks?
Conspiracy? Prejudicial hiring? Don't be absurd!
How long would a company keep its competitive edge
in these cutthroat times if it didn't exploit to the full every talent
(however humble the initial position)
of any employee entering the job stream at whatever level?"

The writing on the walls is frequently cryptic
Sure, words of wisdom if you like but what do they mean specifically?
Buy low? Sell high? Vice versa or try a new place for lunch?
The only happy campers are those
running interpretation shills

"I'm not ashamed to say I'd be a Volcano Virgin in a heartbeat
if I met the basic requirements / Thrill a minute!
That's me, and with so few minutes left
you bet every one would be a thrill
Don't know if there's any truth to the rumours
come as you go, but why not? Science doesn't know everything
Like to find out myself
once before I die" "Just before you die" "There is that
and anyway I'm in a committed relationship"

"Hope this lightning's not going to start throwing nothing but French at us"
"Could be worse... could be Cantonese"
That last one I'm almost positive was faked some way
Not the oracular ring we'd come to expect
but what do I know? Why shouldn't an articulate lightning bolt
have a sense of humour also?

Tomatoes in the lava bed are another matter
Tempers flare in debates at City Hall
do we go with status quo or finally offer up resistance
are we appeasing and thus promoting unhealthy appetite in the volcano?
What's slim or fat in a towering rocky edifice?
Who even knows what it wants for sure? Do any of us speak volcano?
Smart money's on status quo what with 1992
still fresh in the memory and tell me please is somebody
holding a gun to prospective Virgins' heads?
Au contraire
, there are lengthy waiting lists
qualifying exams
competitions for Virgin Queen
at more than half of our local high schools, where
testing's particularly rigorous (as you might expect
if you know a thing or two about modern high schools)

The writing on the walls is frequently cryptic
Later events may strangely clarify an obscurity of phrase
Many of us wonder what the use is of a prophecy
you can't understand until it's fulfilled
Perhaps it's an intelligence test? if that's the case
we're way behind on points > Never mind saving anyone
There are loads of ways you can make a buck on disasters you know are coming