The crescent moon hangs pale on the pale blue sky over the steeple. Again. How many more times, he thought, and how many more times will I have this lugubrious thought? He had begun to suspect that he had already thrown each of the 64 hexagrams making up the I Ching on at least one occasion: as if the oracle might be exhausted. But how can you exhaust the inexhaustible? The number of different possible chess games is 10 to the power of 120; look eight moves ahead and you confront as many games as there are stars in the galaxy. And that's just our galaxy. Just chess. No, he could not have reached the end of the I Ching, it must have been something else that was ending . . . but what? Never thought I'd have to pay so dearly / for what was already mine . . . Warren Zevon crooned. Accidentally Like a Martyr. First heard that song in 1975 or 6, knew nothing then of what it was talking about: The hurt gets worse / and the heart gets harder. It was #5, Hsü / Waiting (Nourishment), in the Richard Wilhelm translation Englished by Cary F Baynes. The orotund complexities of the Germanic syllabic roll made him tired. It could not sound less Chinese. Or could it? All beings have need of nourishment from above. But the gift of food comes in its own time, and for this one must wait. This hexagram shows the clouds in the heavens, giving rain to refresh all that grows and to provide mankind with food and drink. He drank the cheap red wine, he ate the cubes of lamb that had been lightly grilled on a skewer then tossed in a wok with chilli and sesame oil, garlic, red onion, tomato, mushroom; delicious. Afterwards, dark chocolate and small sweet black grapes with tough skins and many seeds. Funny how even a poor wine can taste good while you're eating but goes sour on the palate as soon as you have finished. As if its virtue departed with your appetite. Oh well, cap the bottle, put it back in the kitchen, drink any more tonight, you'll feel awful tomorrow; which is not to say you won't feel awful anyway. The moon has set now, Orion lies supine like a narrow canoe jagged on the spire. Don't know what's wrong with me. What's wrong with the world? Perhaps it is wanting more than the I Ching can give, which is a dangerous thing to want, especially when you've just thrown Patience: Clouds rise up to heaven: / The image of WAITING. / Thus the superior man eats and drinks, / is joyous and of good cheer. What's that supposed to mean, a Christmas carol? Well let's say you're Scrooge tonight. Or, screwed. Then wallow in your melancholy, bathe in its blue glow, take that tunnel that leads from the manhole in the wardrobe down, down without end into the dank underparts of the City. The broken fingernails of dirty hands. / My people humble people who expect / Nothing. / la la . . .