The Song of the Secret Name of Doofus the Third

is the author of ,Sudden Death, Over Time; Coyote in the Mountains and Other Stories; Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago ; and Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley . He and his wife, Julie, live in the Sawtooth Valley of Idaho. He has been a contributor to Dark Mountain books since Issue 4.

[inscribed on clay tiles discovered by crop gleaners in a ravine outside of the Mount Rushmore Tea Party Tribal Headquarters, Montana Militia Eastern Garrison, Nunavut Confederacy, during the failed harvest season of 2212. Many of the tiles have been damaged by participants in a game called Frisbee-To-The-Death, leading to gaps in the narrative.]

I am Crackfeenster,
Rushmore Tribal Historian,
Recorder of Potato Crop Numbers,
Rememberer of the Great Broken Faces,
Keeper of the Secret Names.

Listen and learn:

The days are growing longer and the heat has withered the potato plants, but we have dug the potatoes, and I have scratched the numbers of all the potato sacks on the windshield of the Sacred Broken Chevrolet Pickup for another year.

Now I sing:

We have many potatoes
White and gold and purple potatoes
We will make it through another burning summer.
Underground with the potatoes
Cool in our potato vaults
Eating potatoes off broken plates
Drinking potato tea out of cracked glasses
For the potato is the root of life, however broken
And we are the broken people of the potato.

[two damaged tiles follow, which contain references to the preparation of potato tea, which seems to be a primitive form of vodka]

Let us get on with it.
Now I sing of Doofus the Third
And his secret name:

The face of Doofus the Third
Is not on the sacred mountain of the Rushmores.
He is not Broken George, whose secret name is
The Cherry Tree Chopper with the Wooden Choppers.

He is not BrokenTeddy, whose secret name is
The Untrustable.
He is not Broken Tom, whose secret name is
Sally’s Partner in Bondage.
He is not Broken Abe, whose secret name is
The Only Good Republican.

I alone remember Doofus the Third.
Without me he would not exist.

I now sing of how hard my job is:

Our time is not a good time to be An Historian.
History is hard to get right in the afterglow of civilization.
The Historian is born to suffer.
It is hard to remember names.
It is hard to do the math.

No one can have a history without a name.
No one can count potatoes without the math.
Without a name, it is hard to affix blame to any one person.

Our brokenness comes to be seen as a series of rolls of the dice
Rather than the product of personal avarice or cowardice.

That is why some people want their names forgotten.
That is why names are important, goddammit.
We need to know whose families to kill.

[broken tiles]

Some say civilization was broken in a place called Persia,
Where the land turned to molten glass,
And the glass flowed all the way to Cleopatria,
Where the stones of the Pyramids
Litter the desert.

Some say it was broken when the Ill-Eagle Bird Flu
Spread from Anthraxico, which lies south of
The heat-shimmering dunes of Kansas.

Some say that the steaming oceans rose over the land
And drowned sinful humanity
Which was most of them.

But the great god P’taah felt remorse
And gave us cool green Antarctica
Somewhere on the other side of the Boiling Sea
South of Anthraxico.

It is hard to get to Antarctica
In leaky rowboats made of cattails
And caulked with melted bits of Interstate.
But if you worship the Giant Potato
In the Great P’taah Potato Cellar
And tithe a tenth of your potato crop
To the Sacred Potato Prostitutes
You get to go to Antarctica when you die.

[broken tiles]

You calorie-obsessed fools
Who call yourselves economists
Are nothing but foodies.
All day you sit around
You swap recipes
And talk about the eternal expansion of the Potato Economy.

You say that money could never exist as IOUs.
You say that money must always be in potato equivalents.
Turnips and squash
Ground squirrel carcasses
And, of course, potatoes,
Which are the best of all possible potato equivalents.

You ask, ‘How can you have money that people can’t eat?’
You ask, ‘Why would people think it was worth anything at all?’
You roll your eyes and say.
‘Doofus the Third, if he existed,
Must have been a minor priest
Of the Church of the Golden Arches,
In the Ancient Order of French Fries.’

Heed well my warning:
Our time is not a good time to be a foodie,
Even one who claims to be an economist.
We will kill you when we find you
And use your fat for our oil lamps.

[a broken tile]

I will now express my disgust
For another useless profession,
The philosophers.

You reality-obsessed fools
Who say you love the truth
Claim that Doofus the Third
Was only a concept used to show
That any human who presumed to talk to the gods
Would bring disaster to his family and his village.
‘The gods are capricious,’ you say. ‘Even Great P’taah.
‘They mess with our potato crops for sport.
‘Only a fool would deliberately try to get their attention.’

Now is not a good time to be a philosopher.
We kill you when we find you
And eat your brains to better understand your big words
And use your Achilles tendons to tie up
The tops of our potato sacks.

[broken tiles]

You ask me
What happened to the lawyers.

I remember the time
In my youth
When we still had them.

Back then was not a good time to be a lawyer.
We killed them when we found them.
And set them on fire where they fell
And sprinkled bits of them our potatoes.

[more broken tiles]

Know, then,
That Doofus the Third walked the Earth
And gave us our broken world,
Crappy as it might be.

Know, then,
You shamans and witch-doctors
Of the Ancient Order of Emergency Room Physicians
Know that Doofus the Third
Was your Founding Father

He replaced an entire health-care system
With your Emergency Rooms
Which welcome the uninsured
Which is all of us
To Antarctica.

Know, then,
You spear-makers and mud hut builders
You scavengers of metal
You sellers of bits of highway
You copper-wire jewelry makers
Know that Doofus the Third
Gave us full employment
Which is a blessing.

When you close a spear wound for two potatoes
And give a copper bracelet for a pumpkin
Trade ten nails for a ground squirrel carcass
Or receive a zucchini for a kilo of asphalt,
Know that Doofus the Third gave you a job
When you needed one.

He calmed the anger of Great P’taah
When Great P’taah was angry.
He gave us our broken world
Which is better than nothing.
No, it really is.

So, in humbleness and terror,
I whisper three times the secret name
Of Doofus the Third,
The Sacred Two Syllables Times Three
That will last forever in their glory:


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