Interlude 2: Another poem: Aristotle on his deathbed in Euboea.

20 Aug

Aristotle on his deathbed in Euboea.


The only gods I believed in were the Furies the avengers the scourge.

Blind rage.

Ares clearly stalks the earth with gaping holes for eyes.

If there is a god of torture and lament I believe in him.

If there is a goddess of reversal of fortune, I believe in her.

A defining characteristic of life is sudden calamity.

Man always lives in perilous times.

(Why didn’t I see this sooner?)

Aphrodite is the greatest ideal, yet I hardly knew her.

I always wished Apollo would appear to me to me to me.

But he didn’t.

I wish I could have had a thousand children.

Each child carrying a piece of me into the future.


I have so much more to know so much more to see

The pleasure temples in Babylon.

The horse people beyond the known world.

Dust dervishes dancing on dreaded deserts.

Mountains that crest in the clouds.


I can see Callisthenes with his neck broken.

Killed by my former pupil.

I can see Socrates dead on a slab.

Poisoned by the people he loved.

I can see the great Philip cut down in a whirl.

Stabbed by a slave.

Ignominious, pointless, embarrassing.

The human body holds so much blood.

If there is anything sacred, it is human blood.


I was born in the hills of Macedonia.

I had rough hands.

I hunted.

I sang.

I ran through the dust and juniper.

In the summer the land was purple and yellow.

Royal colors for a wild place.

Where do these memories reside?

Where do they go when I die?


And will I be remembered?

And did I do any good?

And could I have molded Alexander to a more peaceful cast?

And are his sins my own?

And is history anything more than a hollow gong, a broken axe?


Archilochus, I wish we had known each other.

you must have been good for a desperate laugh.

I didn’t laugh enough in life I couldn’t see anything funny.

I loved tragedy.

I admired Diogenes.

I studied Euripides.

I worshiped Sophocles.

Hesiod, did you introduce chaos into the world?

(We would not have liked each other.)

Pythagorus, were you mad?

How did you entice so many followers to your absurd ways?


The seven wise men

—Solon, Bias, Thales, Periander, Chilon, Pittacus, Cleobulus—

what did you give the world?

Pith. Wit. Charm. Empty words. Precisely nothing.


An ache in my thoughts.

Cannot sleep.

There is an acrid smell in the air.

I wish the scent was lavender or honey.

Not this burnt, metallic taste in my mouth.

My enemies I had so many and I never quite understood why.

Is there a mathematical way of proving that everything is real?

Did my lists and organizing principles, did they do anything?


The clouds the clouds they are so familiar

I can feel my essence fading.

What happens to the eyes with age?

What causes a man’s wrists to grow weak?

There is something divine in the bedroom

I can say that with complete authority

Children are miracles

Gods exist somewhere

In the memory and imagination of man.

Peace is not the highest ideal.


There will be a stone at the end of time

On it, I want my name inscribed.


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