The Voynich Manuscript: Prologue to The Hubble Cantos by Tree Riesener

Now that Yale University has published an edition of the mysterious medieval Voynich Manuscript, I hope those interested in such esoteric delights may find some fun in the prologue to my new collection (just published by Aldritch Press), The Hubble Cantos. The poems in this collection engage in conversation with astronomical phenomena as demonstrated by the gorgeous photography of the Hubble Telescope. Most of the poems in the collection engage with actual heavenly entities but there are a few playful offerings, as this prologue, blazon for a new constellation, or the incarnation galaxy (my invention).

prologue: onws

speculations on the voynich manuscript

a pre-hubble guide to the heavens

of course found in a mouldering chest

deep in the cloisters of a jesuit college

villa mondragone think about that

a name of obviously cabalistic significance

in frascati near rome

at least hundreds of years old

seven by ten inches

two hundred thirty-five pages

soft light-brown vellum

language unknown

meticulous drawings of constellations

never seen with human eyes

the real reason for the hubble shhhhh

detailed drawings of naked women

embellish the pages of mysterious words

a phenomenon familiar to movie goers

nothing mysterious or new about

the onws (obligatory naked woman scene)

only if artistically required of course

minimum the onbs (obligatory naked breast scene)

again only if artistically required

how could anyone write a book

about constellations as seen from a ufo

in a secret family language handed down

since the beginnng of time

without an onws or at least an onbs

the women in gardens could represent

creation and rebirth of consciousness

the women in baths a cathar sacrament

the endura bleeding to death in a warm tub

rudolph II bought the book from a peddler

for a cool six hundred

in the days when a dinar was a dinar

added it to his collection of dwarves giants

and the elephant man’s bones

had a contest to translate it

the first to do the job got to marry his daughter

who rumor had it at saturday night parties

after a little pot would pose like the women

in the manuscript’s onws’s or at least onbs’s

some of the things the finalists said were

it was an account of a civil war

written in an archaic

vowelless form of ukrainian

an antique prayer-book

offering repetitive meditations

on the themes of pain and death

an ancient attempt to transcribe

an east-asian language

into alphabetic form

an unexpurgated version

of the emerald tablet of hermes

an arabic alchemical treatise

spiced up with onws’s

of purely academic significance

the lingua ignota of hildegarde of bingen’s

attempt to conceal her heretical idea

for a new language

composed only of nouns and adjectives

meaning found in the individual pen strokes

that composed each letter corresponding to

an ancient greek form of shorthand

(unfortunately simply cracks

in the manuscript's ink caused by age)

reportedly the cryptologist went mad

the onws’s seemed no consolation

to an internet researcher

who said the translation came to him in a dream

it was the movements of the stars

at the moment of the first destruction of the universe

a guide to what is coming

hubble’s almost there at the beginning

unless the government cuts the funding

from this learn it doesn’t matter forget the onws’s

throw away the book

find love act out the alchemical marriage

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