The Panther and the Mantis

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Praying Mantis: WANTs respect
Panther: NEEDs company
Horus: CAN see everything

Court

HORUS: Order! Order! By my omniscience,
My gift to see all things across all time,
I will unkennel all the sins you’ve made
And publish you forever in deep shame
If you in audience will not hear this panther
And this praying mantis speak!
Good praying mantis, speak your want to us
And why you wish to prosecute this beast.

MANTIS: Horus, falcon of Egypt, fighter of evils,
Despite your single eye – the other lost
In cataclysmic battle as you nobly
Traversed the underworld and gifted it
To your blind father – forever be omniscient!
My want is but respect from this black beast
Who brutally disgraced me with a roar;
And with a wrath darker than his night cloak
Attempted with his claws and giant jaw
To have me lynched to pieces. This respect
Will only be achieved by ostracism.

HORUS: Order! Order! Don’t make me site the verses
Of William Shakespeare dissin’ on the mob!
Good panther, speak your need and your defence.

PANTHER: Horus, I have no tongue of flattery
To match the mantis, so I will speak plainly.
This praying mantis, with her friends, condemned me
To a black cell of solitary shame.
Between her shifts of prayers disguised with virtue,
Mocked my swart fur and gossiped stark false claims
That swayed the audience to frown against me:
The jungle of my throne she claims I stole
From the cold paws of my dear brother dead
And cries out, “murder!” But by your omniscience –

HORUS: I know the claim is counter-factual.

PANTHER: And so by measure of her saint persona
Compared to my complexion in the mirror,
Fought battles in my mind like avatars
Projected on the field of my mind’s eye.
But every war was lost: each circumstance
Played in thought’s theatre saw I condemned
Despite my acts of speech to right the rumours.
Then I defeated in premeditation
Wished death unto the world. But since we wish
Vast nothingness before we nothing wish –
A death to all before Desire’s death –
Foresaw myself leap off a looming cliff
To drown my sorrows deep into the sea
And begged the salt to bleach my fur to white.
Thus, I performed and leaped into the sea:
Flinched, roared, and winced on rocks down my descent,
And smacked upon the sea that felt of earth.
Poseidon, sleeping with his trident, heard
The impact of the sea upon my flesh.
The crack of broken ribs broke his deep sleep,
So, in his rage thought death too merciful,
And with a wave had washed me up ashore.
Upon the beach laid I in agony
Wishing the sea to swallow me again.
Outweighing my defeat, my wrath returned
Which gave me strength enough to leave the beach.
Since great Poseidon had denied me death,
My being shook for the death of that false mantis.
Bruised, battered, brittle, yet whole by seething wrath,
I roamed the jungle seeking for revenge,
Until I saw the mantis and her clergy
Praying: a tribe of chirping hypocrites.
Disgusted and confused by such a picture,
Roared I in rage and chased the hippo-crickets.
But by my broken bones I failed to seize them
And wailed up to the heavens for my loss.
Thus, will I plead my need here absolute:
That I, despite the blackness of my fur;
That I, despite my fang’s monstrosity;
That I, despite the knives that form my claws,
Are kept in this great jungle’s company.
For ostracism is a sentence worse
Than being hunted by a pack of poachers.
All else beyond the jungle, save the sea,
Is but a plain of dust and tumbleweed.

HORUS: While such a speech has moved my listeners
And swayed the favour from this mantis’ virtue
Toward your beastly honesty, I hereby
Condemn you ostracised from this oasis.
For in your current state you are not fit to
Cohabitate with our community.
The desert is as natal as it is fatal:
Should you survive the roamings of your banishment,
A nobler self will bloom by desert ashes.
And should you find your way back home new-formed,
A greater panther could be more equipped
To lift false virtue’s mask and cure the blind,
And for us, truly see what lurks behind.
‘Till then, be gone! Vast desert plains await;
May steps through hell lead out to heaven’s gate.

Exeunt

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