The Poison Pie Publishing House presents:

Hebeloma's Abyssal Aria
Hebeloma Crustuliniforme
with illustrations by Julia K. Keffer
(link to main page of score)


October 1, 2022
Old Parsley set aside her frugality and purchased two new sheepskins, of which she made a gift to the sybil. She explained their use as if speaking to a simpleton for she did not want her extravagance to go to waste. "Spread this one on the stone, wooly side up. Lie down upon it and wrap this one around you. You'll stay warm in winter. Best not to sleep in the cistern. Keep them out of sight, some distance down the tunnel by which you emerged from the sea." In these matters, Eurymedusa heeded the instructions of the herbalist.

written while listening to:  Edouard Ferlet, Airelle Besson, Alexandra Grimal & Fabrice Moreau - Filigrane (Mélisse Music, MEL666007, 2009, France, cd,

October 2, 2022
The herbalist deftly combined her own remedies for the ailments of the body with what she described as the sybil's balms for the spirit. With increasing frequency, she and her apprentice accompanied pilgrims to the cave. At least twice a week, Eurymedusa was called upon to grant an audience with a woman of Lerna or Tegea or a homestead in the mountains between them. Each supplicant asked only for a boon to heal a sick child or to pacify an unruly husband. In matters of health, she urged them to heed the herbalist. In those of marriage, she repeated variations of her theme to Polyxena.

written while listening to:  Derek Bailey - Lot 74 (Incus Records, INCUS 12, 1974, United Kingdom, lp,

October 3, 2022
Eurymedusa did not speak to Old Parsley of her prophecies and had only herself with whom to share her disappointment. She could not ascribe to her prognostications any grand mission. Yet, when she had left the presence of the Ocean Mother, she had been convinced that she embarked on a noble journey to make the world a better place. Unanswered questions buzzed about the grotto like annoying flies. What had gone wrong? Had she misunderstood the Ocean Mother? Had the cecaelia tricked her? Or, most likely, had she bungled the execution of her appointed task?

written while listening to:  Hans Reichel & Eroc - Kino (Teldec Import Service, TIS 66.23921, 1986, Germany, lp,

October 4, 2022
Despite the doubts of the oracle, her reputation grew quickly on the eastern coast of the Peloponnesian peninsula. The herbalist parceled out visits at her own discretion, turning some potential pilgrims away. Perhaps, as a healer, her diagnosis of an individual's affliction placed them beyond the bounds of the sybil's skill. Alternatively, she may have relied on her business acumen to keep demand high. In either case, there was a measure of self-preservation since she desired to remain beneath the notice of temple priests. She maintained her monopoly by regularly whispering that Eupompe would grant naught but ill health to those who appeared at her doorstep unannounced.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - Black Blues (soft version) (Les Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier, DSA 54087, 2004, France, cd,

October 5, 2022
Old Parsley delivered to the oracle an elderly widow, nearly blind, who hired a cart to carry her along the valley road. She hobbled, with the aid of the apprentice, up the slope to the cave. In the cool grotto, her eyes made out the ghostly shape of a white gown. She bartered with the sybil, promising what wealth she had in exchange for a prophecy that would convince her niece to look after the widow's sick granddaughter following her death. When the niece arrived a week later, it seemed a small kindness to grant the widow's wish.

written while listening to:  Evan Parker & Agustí Fernández - The Voice is One (Not Two Records, MW 878-2, 2012, Poland, cd,

October 6, 2022
In the long hours of solitude between visitors, Eurymedusa contemplated whether nudging women toward small kindnesses made the world a better place and, if so, did such deeds encompass the full extent of her impact. For herself, she might have been content with minor triumphs of tenderness. However, the memory of the Ocean Mother loomed over her, threatening to shape her words. A new bride visited, asking for guidance to a happy and fecund marriage. To this pilgrim, the sybil advised, "Love each child as if it were your last."

written while listening to:  Steve Lacy Five - The Way, disc 1 (hatOLOGY, hatOLOGY 2-604, 2004 (rec. 1979), Switzerland, cdx2,

October 7, 2022
Despite the admonitions of the herbalist, a middle-aged woman from a village south of Argos arrived without invitation at Eurymedusa's cave. The sybil had just returned from the stream that flowed beside the valley road. Upon her head, she wore a circlet of reeds decorated with the white blossoms of fall known as snowdrops. To the pilgrim, she appeared as an unearthly waif, simultaneously fragile and fierce, foolish and wise, pathetic and enviable. "O blessed Eupompe," she called from the entrance to the grotto, "grant the audience denied me by the old hag who claims to serve you."

written while listening to:  Roscoe Mitchell - Numbers (RogueArt, ROG-0036, 2011, France, cd,

October 8, 2022
The impotence of the oracle was made evident to herself, if not to the pilgrim. She wished for simplicity and to be shielded from squabbles by the herbalist. Yet she could not decide in the moment whether she was better served by a resolute silence or words of dismissal. The brash woman, who had taken matters into her own hands thus far, seized on this moment of uncertainty. In a prepared speech, she first introduced herself as Drosis, then offered to serve as a liaison to the lands about Argos, neglected by Old Parsley.

written while listening to:  Wadada Leo Smith & Andrew Cyrille - The Emerald Duets, disc 2 (TUM Records, TUM BOX 006, 2022, Finland, cdx5,

October 9, 2022
The sybil may have lacked the power to prevent the unwelcome from entering her domain, but she could do her best to convince them never to return. "Drosis, all your life, you have sought to claim what others have worked to achieve. You cannot expect people to vouchsafe your illegitimate demands. Let this warning serve as the start of a more satisfying future for you, where you accept only that which you have earned or been given freely." She regarded her response as flawed, but imperfect improvisation when caught off-guard is the stuff of all lives, even that of an oracle.

written while listening to:  Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp - Special Edition Box (SMP Records, SMP-012, 2021, Germany, cd+blu-ray,

October 10, 2022
After the stormy departure of Drosis, the sybil experienced a lingering disappointment for she had not followed the advice that she had given to Polyxena, namely, when in doubt, to err on the side of kindness. She constructed various rationales to justify her repudiation of the pilgrim but ultimately accepted the hypocrisy of her actions. Some generous readers may find merit in her admission of her flaws. At the very least, this honest self-reflection accorded with her pledge for transparency. However, admitting one's own vice is, in and of itself, no substitute for virtue.

written while listening to:  Roscoe Mitchell & Muhal Richard Abrams - Duets and Solos (Black Saint, 120133-2, 1993, Italy, cd,

October 11, 2022
While making a delivery of bread and dried figs, Old Parsley casually announced, "In two days, I will bring you another pilgrim, a young man." Before meeting the herbalist, the sybil had assumed that she would provide guidance to both sexes, so the news did not alarm her. Old Parsley had not been privy to any account of the last male visitor to the cave save the huntsman's own tale of outrage. Still, she felt inclined to reassure the sybil that she and her apprentice would remain just outside the entrance during the entirety of the man's audience.

written while listening to:  Mary Halvorson & Joe Morris - Traversing Orbits (RogueArt, ROG-0083, 2018, France, cd,

October 12, 2022
The youth stood at the entrance to the grotto, framed by light filtering in from the mouth of the cave. His silhouette revealed his stature and hinted at his athleticism. However, as he introduced himself, the sybil was to discover that this young man was not destined for feats of strength but to govern, for he was Aesop, born to the magistrate of Thyrea in his later years and subject to an education suited for a future governor. Today, he had broken a sweat during his journey to the valley and his scent infiltrated the cistern.

written while listening to:  Masada - Live (Jazz Door, JD 1293, 1995, Germany, cd,

October 13, 2022
"O blest Eupompe," called Aesop in a voice full of the vigor and hope of youth, "I see with my own eyes that the rumors of your loveliness, whispered by the women who have known the good fortune to hear your tidings, are no mere gossip. If the wisdom of your prophecies proves half as sublime as the grace of your countenance, then I relinquish all doubts that you shall be able to aid me." He had come by this eloquence through expensive tutoring. We cannot pretend that our young, lonely sybil was entirely unmoved by his silver tongue.

written while listening to:  Henry Kaiser & Jim O'Rourke - Tomorrow Knows Where You Live (Les Disques Victo, VICTO cd014, 1991, Canada, cd,

October 14, 2022
Aesop next delivered a polished tale that would conclude with his arrival before the sybil. As she listened, the sybil felt a pang of suspicion, for his words were so well conceived compared to the crude but earnest entreaties of the village women who had preceded him. "That I might one day merit my father's position and so administer Thyrea with a just hand, he saw fit to spare no expense in my training. When it was said that the lectures of Thucydides, a man of Lerna, had no equal, my father insisted that I travel every other week to benefit from his philosophical expositions."

written while listening to:  Nate Wooley, Ingrid Laubrock, Sylvie Courvoisier & Matt Moran - Battle Pieces 4 (Relative Pitch Records, RPR1097, 2019, United States, cd,

October 15, 2022
"The wisdom of Thucydides, while undeniably meritorious, was not the most precious treasure that I was to find in Lerna." Aesop paused here, allowing the sybil a chance to interject a comment. When she chose not respond, he resumed, saying, "Our esteemed teacher had a niece who would sometimes deliver refreshments during a break in our lessons. I have ever put my trust in reason but, upon first glance at this maiden, I could not tear my eyes from her. For her part, she could not help but to notice my attention and, it seemed, experienced a reciprocal feeling."

written while listening to:  Ákos Rózmann - Mass / Mässa (1988-2004), disc 5 (Ideologic Organ, SOMA044, 2022, Austria, cdx7,

October 16, 2022
"Through intrepid efforts initiated by both parties, we met clandestinely. Our first, chaste meeting confirmed in words what our eyes had already discovered—that we two were destined by fate to spend our lives together. At each subsequent visit to Lerna, we managed to arrange a secret rendezvous, where our love took on a carnal aspect. Neither of us had known physical love before. Even the gods should be jealous of the tender intimacy with which we introduced the joyful subject to each other."

written while listening to:  Pauline Oliveros - Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970, disc 4 (Important Records, IMPREC352, 2012, United States, cdx12,

October 17, 2022
The sybil gave no indication that she grew impatient with the pilgrim, so he continued to relate events at his own pace. "Of course, we discussed at length how to make public our relationship. Each of us feared broaching the matter with our parents, so the unwanted secrecy continued. When my beloved shared her suspicions that she carried my child, I was tossed in a tempest of elation and anxiety. I thought the babe would be a harbinger of the love that I lacked the courage to announce. Alas, in my cowardice, I condemned that child to death."

written while listening to:  Joëlle Léandre, François Houle & Raymond Strid - Last Seen Headed: Live at Sons d'hiver (Ayler Records, AYLCD-096, 2010, France, cd,

October 18, 2022
"You must realize by now, if you did not already know before my arrival, that my beloved is Polyxena, niece of the Lernean philosopher Thucydides. In the pay of her mother, the abortionist, who stands guard outside your shrine, worked her art to steal our child from us. You may also recall, I pray, the luminous face of Polyxena from among the many pilgrims who have sought your aid. You may remember the path, which you lay before her, when she beseeched you to help us." Here, Aesop repeated a rendition of the sybil's prophecy, filtered through the memory of the girl to whom it had first been given.

written while listening to:  David Murray with Dave Burrell - Windward Passages (Black Saint, 120165-2, 1997, Italy, cd,

October 19, 2022
Listening to her own prophecy recited back to her in the voice of the young man forced the sybil to hear the words differently. Bereft of the power of the Ocean Mother, the phrases lacked all certainty and became just another prattling of disconnected aphorisms. Yet her visitor repeated the words with apparent sincerity. It proved difficult to separate reverence from mockery. "Polyxena followed your advice to the best of her understanding and declared to her parents her intention to wed me, barring no objection. Under her bidding, I did likewise."

written while listening to:  Ornette Coleman Sound Museum - Hidden Man (Harmolodic/Verve Records, 313 531 914-2, 1996, United States, cd,

October 20, 2022
"My father forbade my return to Lerna, demanding even to cease my attendance at the lectures of Thucydides. 'The Lerneans are a cursed people, bound to the hydra!' I availed myself of every argument at my disposal but failed to persuade him. I urged my mother to plead my case but she, who loves us both, feared to come between us. Against his will, I departed Thyrea while he slept. I did not leave to visit Polyxena one last time. Rather, I stand before you, who can grant the long-term remedy that I might wake to the face of my beloved every morn."

written while listening to:  Anthony Braxton - The Montreux/Berlin Concerts, sides C & D (Arista, AL 5002, 1977, United States, lpx2,

October 21, 2022
Eurymedusa desired to heave a great sigh, but the role of oracle she had embraced. That people brought before her their troubles, imploring her to solve them, was an essential aspect of her service, one which she would not diminish or dismiss. She fixed her gaze upon the handsome youth. For a moment, he reminded her of wayward Hippophorbas, lost to the labyrinth. "Remove your sandals and step into the pool," she said. "The message I am to communicate is best revealed through both air and water." With no less alacrity than his beloved had displayed, Aesop obeyed.

written while listening to:  Uruk (Isabelle Duthoit, Franz Hautzinger, Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang) - Ame: Live At Artacts 2020 (Trost Records, TR219, 2022, Austria, lp,

October 22, 2022
"Aesop, it is your good fortune to be born to a family of nobility and wealth. Your blessings are manifold. You are healthy and strong. Your intelligence is as easily read in your eyes as it is heard in your words. You have loving parents who want the best for you. Count yourself lucky. In this world, some have only the strength of their back, others naught but their wits. Those with neither rely on the charity of compassionate souls. Too many find no source of succor. For these hapless wretches each day is a pitiable struggle."

written while listening to:  Tomomi Kubo & Ferrán Besalduch - Gyotaku (Call It Anything Records, CIA-11, 2022, Spain, cd,

October 23, 2022
"Still, it is not enough that you should merely count your blessings. You seek to add to your bounty the love of a winsome lass, who yearns to cleave to you all the days of her life. And yet so many others are forever bereft of companionship. The world is loath to tolerate such imbalance. I ask you, what action lies within your power to justify your good fortune? How can you, who desire every blessing, deservedly earn such manifold rewards?" The oracle spoke these sharp words with a strangely reassuring voice, which failed, all the same, to dull their sting.

written while listening to:  Cecil Taylor Quintet - Stereo Drive (United Artists, UAS 5014, 1959, United States, lp,

October 24, 2022
To her questions, Aesop had no immediate answer. He had assumed that the pilgrim provided the query and the oracle the answer, so he found himself unprepared to rationalize and defend his love for Polyxena. As he stood in the shallow pool before the sybil, he furiously exercised all his natural intelligence, for he supposed that if he could not satisfy her, he would ultimately find that he could not satisfy himself either. After a silence, he repeated a theme from one of the lessons of Thucydides, "To those whom much is given, much is expected."

written while listening to:  George Lewis - Voyager (Avant, AVAN 004, 1993, Japan, cd,

October 25, 2022
The sybil yielded no outward signal of her approval but privately she deemed the reply to his credit. Aesop returned home, stopping this time in Lerna, at the front entrance to the house of Polyxena. The servant at the door had been instructed not to admit him, so he relayed only a message to be delivered to both Polyxena and her parents that he had visited the oracle, as his beloved had requested. That evening, in Thyrea, he showed the same transparency to this own parents and asked without apology his father's forgiveness for his disobedience.

written while listening to:  Matt Mitchell & Kate Gentile - Snark Horse, disc 4 (Pi Recordings, PI90, 2021, United States, cdx6,

October 26, 2022
The magistrate of Thyrea put a question of his own to Aesop. "A son who defies his father is like a governor who ignores the will of the people. He may for a brief time achieve his aim but, having sundered the trust that formed the foundation of his power, how will he now repair his reputation?" Aesop did not immediately answer nor did he reveal the smile that this question threatened to summon, for he sensed in his father's words not only a characteristic obstinance but also an invitation for reconciliation.

written while listening to:  Great Waitress (Laura Altman, Monica Brooks & Magda Mayas) - Back, Before (Splitrec, splitrec 30, 2022, Australia, cd,

October 27, 2022
Within the city of Lerna were several temples, two of sufficient prominence to host festivals that drew supplicants from across the peninsula. The stone hall to Poseidon served as an entrance to a walled preserve, in which four sacred wells were located. From these springs, healing waters emanated. Curative appointments were strictly regulated by the priests. The temple to Demeter was a much less formal structure, a traveler's rest stop placed aside the road to the Alcyonian Lake, which, due to its unmeasured depth, was long regarded as an entrance to the Underworld.

written while listening to:  John Coltrane - Expression (Impulse!, AS-9120, 1967, United States, lp,

October 28, 2022
The administrators of both temples could turn a blind eye to a rogue sybil tending to village women and, perhaps, the occasional citizen's wife. However, when news of the visit of the son of the Thyrean magistrate reached their ears, they could no longer tolerate inaction. Such families served as donors, essential to the continued operation of the church. A middle-aged factotum of the temple of Poseidon was selected on the basis of his practicality rather than his religious devotion. He was ordered to investigate the shrine and to identify vulnerabilities of the upstart oracle, which could be exploited as the need arose.

written while listening to:  Charlie Parker - The Complete Verve Master Takes, disc 1 (Verve Records, 440 065 597-2, 2003 (rec. 1947, 1949 & 1950), United States, cdx3,

October 29, 2022
Arriving unannounced in mid-morning, the factotum called at the cave entrance but elicited no response. He entered and stood at the opening to the grotto, taking in the pool and the unoccupied stone slab at the far wall. By torchlight, he ventured down the other fork until he came to the neatly rolled bundle of blankets and a woven basket that together constituted the oracle's bed and pantry. He left everything precisely as he found it. His stay was brief. Emerging again into daylight, he failed to notice a girl observing him from the high ridge.

written while listening to:  Lisa Ullén, Elsa Bergman & Anna Lund - Space (Relative Pitch Records, RPR1136, 2022, United States, cd,

October 30, 2022
With no pilgrims scheduled that day, Eurymedusa had visited the beach for an early, invigorating swim. Upon her return, the faint smell of smoke made her wary. Her vigilance was rewarded by the emergence of the torch-bearing man. She identified him as a temple aide, garbed in the cerulean blue of Poseidon though lacking the deportment of a priest. She did not reveal herself. Well after his departure, an inspection confirmed that he had not found the second vial of toxin, her gift from the squid, which she hoped never to use nor to lose.

written while listening to:  Orsa (Maria Dybbroe & Alfred Lykke) - Mnemosyne (Barefoot Records, BFREC069LP, 2022, Denmark, 10" lp,

October 31, 2022
At the next appearance of the herbalist, Eurymedusa reported the invasion of her grotto by the factotum. The interest of the temple priests in the sybil was, while alarming, not entirely unexpected. "You were right to hide yourself," said Old Parsley. "Going forward, I will keep this in mind." The apprentice found that the report kindled a feeling of hopeful suspense. She wanted the oracle to bear some responsibility for the danger in which she put them all. Sprig succumbed to a juvenile fantasy in which Eupompe was deposed and she was appointed to serve in her stead.

written while listening to:  Miles Davis - Blue Period (Prestige, PRLP 140, 1953, United States, 10" lp,

previous month

next month

This work is made available to the public, free of charge and on an anonymous basis. However, copyright remains with the author. Reproduction and distribution without the publisher's consent is prohibited. Links to the work should be made to the main page of the score.