The Thousand Injuries of Fortunato

I don’t blame friends or family.
I’m not here to pass the buck.
This is just to tell the story
Of one man’s bout with LUCK.

I thought myself a genius
When just a youth in school.
I was a very Montresor.
Luchesi was a fool.

With this brave Self assertion,
I set out on my quest
Eager to conquer every foe,
Quite sure I was the best.

Fame, wealth, and glory was my goal.
I hurried to embrace it,
Selecting for my motto
Nemo me lacessit.* * No one treads on me.

And for a crest to guide me
On the pilgrimage I’d make,
I chose the mighty boot of gold
That treads upon the snake.

I donned a jaunty cap-and-bells
For the Festival-of-Flesh,
To blend in with the Carnival
Of fools and foolishness.

But soon enough I found the road
To glory and romance
Was fraught with all the hurdles and
Malign detours of CHANCE.

And when I’d borne as best I could
Each hapless hap I met
And suffered every hazard
Of calamitous kismet,

I cursed the Lord of Mishaps,
Of loss heaped up on loss,
Of life on a roulette wheel
Or a game of pitch and toss.

You face, in fact, such terrible odds
Questing to be the hero
When dice keep showing snake eyes,
The roulette wheel, double zero.

When you never fill that inside straight
No matter how you draw,
It’s all black cats and broken mirrors,
Always the shortest straw.

No four-leaf-clover, rabbit’s foot,
No talisman or charms
Are efficacious in the least
‘Gainst Luck’s malignant harms.

And it’s more than just chaotic Chance;
People are hostile too.
They didn’t seem to like me much;
What was I to do?

Reeling drunk through catacombs,
My chains were drawing tighter.
Death and damp surrounded me,
And the nitre! O, the nitre!

Then, just in time, a wise man said,
“Son, look what you have missed!
It’s the ancient Eden story,
And it’s right there on your crest!

“In Eden... remember... God put
Enmity between the Snake and Man;
Our eternal fight with Evil
Was apparently God’s plan.

“Man must tread on Evil’s head
With courage and with zeal,
But the snake, it seems, forever
Turns to bite him on the heel.

“Now, you must understand the meaning,
And very few men do.
That boot... that serpent rampant, Son?
BOTH of them are YOU!

“For Mankind’s greatest foe is Man.
It’s the story of The Fall.
Hubris, pride, and vaulting ego
Are the worst BAD LUCK of all.

“Yes, EGO is the evil wine...
Your own Amontillado...
And it’s a painful thing to learn
That YOU are Fortunato.

“And when you learn that it’s the Snake
Of SELF that bites the boot,
Then, Sir, you must take the ax
And lay it to the root!

“You must take the Evil One below
And seal him in a cave.
By killing Fortunato,
It will be You you save.

“It’s the irony of ironies,
The Pride that sank Titanic
Which thought itself unsinkable,
An arrogance gigantic.

“Desires and fears direct the Ego.
It must be the hero’s goal
To liberate his life of these
And liberate his soul.

“And when you right that sinking ship
And turn to serving Others,
The hurdles fall! You then stand tall
And walk upon the Waters.”