The thing about penguins is that they seem like random thoughts. Like unnatural interjections in the barren landscape of the antarctic tundra, like living little non-sequiturs. And so it is when they occur in the landscape of the mind, they represent that which does not follow, that which is foreign, freakish, and absolutely alien. They’re downright absurd when you think about it, too. To think, a bird more at home under the water than on it or out of it: it’s freakish.
I think this is why Mr. Simon Jeffes of PCO’s fevered vision was so entirely fitting: “I am the Proprietor of the Penguin Café, I will tell you things at random.” And Mr. Sam Brown’s old man in the forest is easily likened unto this random owner, what with his miscellaneous trivia of life-sustaining machines, fat moons, and The Story of the King. He may as well have had a penguin in the forest rendering hot soup to the world-weary travelers. But it’s alien-ness is one that waxes all too familiar to the dabbler in the absurd arts, and we know it well by now, well enough at least to say that we are familiar with that stranger. So forgive me my reminiscence on the odd and the absurd with this little ditty on desolace.
Whilst meandering listlessly
upon a pallid plateau,
a dreary and overcast twilight
outlined the horizon.
I happened there upon
a fellow ambler there up on
that desolate landscape.
We walked a while,
he, leading the way
to where I did not know.
But when I could forge along no longer
“I cannot go on,” I cried, “My legs give way!”
And looking down, I saw my knees were turned to jelly
You can continue, my companion replied.
And this was true, he had not lied,
So I shuffled along behind him
Until we reached the edge of that dreaded cliff.
A portentous precipice before us loomed,
and I, unsure of my newfound stature
fell down among the ruins.
And here I’ve been
for what seems like eons,
patron saint of the Fallen and Forgotten.
My decent was swift, but my reign has been long.