The Un-Oubliette

Long before Alice was fully Alice,
She was trapped inside her own memory palace,
Surrounded by what she could not forget,
Imprisoned within an Un-Oubliette.

For various reasons, which we won’t now recount,
Alice’s fears did steadily mount.
That’s a thing about misgiving:
It’s not a good place to be living.

Alice was a Journeyman in a trade
of which clever nightmares are often made.
seeking anything which might enhance her
quest to become a Necromancer.

And thus, Alice was far more exposed
To the amortal terrors which might leave you enclosed
inside a pit of dragon-thought,
where the nerves are shrilly taught

to split upon the sharpened edge
of every pain; and to grip the ledge
of a mountain of collected woes,
fears of outer and inner foes—

Alice’s studies made her vulnerable
to those.

It’s hard to see more than one plane
of existence, and still stay sane
(or as sane, and human-hearted
as you were when you first started).

It’s said there’s knowledge we ought not know,
and to your mind, this much you owe:
fill it not to utter bursting,
lest you include each and every worst thing.

Keep your mind empty and vague,
avoid thoughtfulness like it was plague,
dwell never overlong
on whether you are right or wrong,

and your understanding, never examine
let your mindscape reflect famine,
a starveling lot, empty and sparse,
and minimal information parse.

If you never think, you can’t become trapped
Inside your head. And thoughts, unwrapped,
are dangerous things. If you want a chance
of staying free, try ignorance—

oh, sure, you might a robot be,
your freedom a soulless, no-thought free,
and you’ll be an easy rube or mark
for anyone who’d steal your vital spark—

but at least you won’t think too much.

An Un-Oubliette is slowly builded
from many things; it is un-gilded
with encrustations of regrets,
big ideas,
small upsets,

moments much too long lingering,
alarm-bells of the hindbrain,
going ring-a-ring,
bright yellow packages,
tied up with existential horror,

knowing too much,
knowing too little,
guilty conscience,
no acquittal,

The Un-Oubliette’s a punishment
For those who are to their own will bent,
For those who find that paths well-tread
Go nowhere they’d make home, or bed.

The Un-Oubliette can be avoided
By having your mind asteroided,
By making your mind near-extinct,
So your thoughts have neither weight nor tinct.

Is thinking hard quite necessary?
Your mileage, one assumes, might vary.
Icebergs seldom pierce your hull
If you’re content inside your skull.

But if you’re set on strange invention,
It may require discontention,
Change is difficult, I pense,
If it comes, not from act, but from coincidence.

Did Alice escape? That would be best,
If I’d a moral for you to digest.
If I told you that critical thought
Leads to that peace by multitudes sought.

Alas! That’s not what happened, ‘though.
There are things you can’t un-know.
Not if you really understand,
Or be ready for knowledge you hadn’t planned.

No! The Un-Oubliette
Had Alice once; she’s within it yet.
But weathering life’s many squalls,
She’s always pushing ‘gainst the walls.

And the walls do oft give way.
For Alice’s will holds frequent sway.
And though non-forgetting’s a kind of curse,
Alice deems ignorance far worse.

For though you need not take each experience,
And hold it so tightly that it removes sense
(Such that hurts of the past become hurts without suture
Stuck in what-was, and forsaking the future,

You must bear the consequences of seeing,
Of processing, as well as being,
If you wish to move for yourself, instead
Of being unable to move, unless you are led.

You need not be Alice. There’s much to be said
In favor of life not spent raising the dead.
She toils in particular sorts of woes,
The kinds that only a Necromancer knows.

But you also can’t subject your life to curation
Which holds unpleasant truths for zero duration.
This means facing hurt, and sometimes contradiction;
It’s hard to kindle a spark without any friction.

That’s one lesson of the Non-Oubliette.
Stay tuned it; there’s more to come yet.
But to this thought, pray return hence:
Better pained by knowledge than numbed by ignorance.


Jeff Mach


My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction.. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, pre-order I HATE Your Prophecy“. It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.