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Socratic Monologues: Concerning Certain Dispensations

The Birds Sing to Plato

How the zeroes stack up, blessedly
among the personal effects of a most public
education, or in the urns of dialogue, so achingly deployed
through shadows easily singing, then things
feathered across the lap of curious boys
or if punning must replace paradox
could the caves arch a little more earthly
and a little less arch if we're to usurp
the pings of the dead by reciting our lines into the line
of lines, dearly bored and fettered to the wall, feeling
proportional, however schematically plumed,
when wandering the vapors of a dialogue in progress
or festering beneath the supernova of our previous comets
the everlasting snap of servants' necks as their heads roll toward


Socrates (A Hasty Reply)

bloated by sleep and olives, stinking of wine-lees, figs, and wooly fat
hesitating within the hesitation
even when approaching the end of a mind
sounds so much like crowing
at a sizable if awkward inheritance
but not content with things doing just as they do
must ask who set the solids in motion,
and how to stave off this leisurepox or the circumference of other cities

but families are permanent even as anodynes if not quite duplicates
of preference or posture or how much I'll pay in the future
if you lash the must to must, if you reinvent the mast
and still I come over to their side so we won't acquire a new triangle
that might point toward something to look forward toward
given the direction of the arrow and despite the rings in the dirt
there are always ten thousand appointments and time to fortify a position


The Birds Sing to Plato

who fills the baths
and who will wrings the clouds of their ghostly sauce
and who is through with writing through
and who with the redundancy of certain circles
who studies the flight of the flea
who counts the number of hoots
who is still and who is learning to salute
who was dead and still not anti-social enough
who were immortal only once
who set the solids aside


Aristotle at the Thinkery

Observe, a rent
or light penetrating reflection
oblong and static like the moon I leased

I gave what you and I both shall have
to gain her charms, for example, the sky over the witchery
and popped her into a box after polishing the face
until she shined like a rose-colored mirror
that never rose but one day of the month, suspended
therefore never new and of no interest
but suppose what we might accomplish
if we won custody of our leisure time
and were free to pay all fines.



Toro toro, rooter cluck, the crack of an oyster for castanets

As a mogul of entertainment
I seemed to have a colossal lack of class
but perhaps that's only an observation in recollection of my later insights
I was the first to reveal what thunder won't and what a jury can't discuss

the resonant analogue to what won't break and what ain't fixed

I could hear even a single ray, as it passed through the palm and into a
but perhaps I was a little early in trying to restore the relief
to wash away the gamy taste of necessity, the seamless conjunctions
of how I began with my earliest omissions
and how I still rely on your scholarly refusal,

To you who received so much free thyme, I can only pay
in storm-tinged melodies, inessential oil.


Aristotle, Revised

Wiping off the dander and staggering into chambers
our notes rarely mentioned but often repeated
the looking into looking without the question ever stated
or the second side of two identical feathers
shown here in winter, there in any five pound bag of apples
bought limewashed and brought limbless from this gappy thesis of fleshy
comes the flash of magnetics or the most attractive flap never posed
but burnt on a copper disk and stuck in a long dilation
it smears the furrows of a potbellied nebula, equal only to one of my
previous prologues, molting in the catacombs of sun and moon.


Members of the Academy

Schools out. Fin. Finito or at least halfway back from the ether
but you're right, I'm not from here I just live here among the jars
of razorfish and the mutilated spiders,
against intrusion and against the failure of intrusion
before people like ourselves, brought the occasional correspondence
when we could not come to be counted, each evening
so careful to find the same number of holes or exchanges
so cautious about trading places with the rice allotted
and in need of that small portion of air that remains in the realm of



Fins do not increase mobility, but control and are remote
like satellites of poetry or expressions of malcontents
a failure of momentum or the cool of circumstance
like roots pulled or squared by the poetry of distance
preferably served from a distance, with a side of razorfish
or a rich child who has no face and shoulders indistinguishable from the
where the bats blink but distant stars distant stars
and bronze distance remain practically indestructible
until each bead is different and endures in the absence
of women, wisdom, and conversation, when I shall shed this marble
and accept bare life as a swan.


Aristotle from the Latin

Whether it's other heights in other times or sheer oversight
or whether a preference for inheriting the one with the view
gave way to an over-abundance of face, the most efficacious prophylactic,
against a practically indestructible craft just barely floating in the
middle of road
where all these new immortals culminate in front like Jupiter
whose head I raise from beneath my robe scraping it free from the spiders
who may have any number of legs, and a range of intellect young insects
hope for, given the category of genius or at least a talent for withstanding
embarrassment when anticipating the inadequacies of some future translation
my words into pulleys, rod, and levers-stationary even when inspired
by music, widows, or painted paroquets but no one dances to
redundancy, in these most opposite days.


The Women of Athens

Each remainder is different in rise and slope or slump or pie, but we've
quite a few in our time, so let us bring out the scales
get baked and let us streak glee, like ticking kittens
we'll sashay and search these manly premises and if we may, pluck the
feathery forms
from a little lyre, in hopes of a little lute later but each day
we were behind the mule, and you're entrenched in mind,
a task or craft of attrition, no more bearable than kneeling
before knowledge in hopes of some day a little place within the city, some
meager real estate, if there be any behind all this stolen content
or borrowed instructions because we simply must have standards
and they must be well-stated or accessible by experiment
a pure product of fey boys and their beautiful trauma
stanched each night, useless to the community, so full of otherworldly
but in these remaining years, learn a trade, develop uncommon kill
and if you find you've made errors, may they be homeopathic
may you keep them like arms, just let us step out from the chorus of stone.


Plato Sings to the Birds (Translated from the German)

Each box its banks along the inside of the shadow
where the pain is always a musical thing like birds or O
men that won't quit singing until beaten in a race
which could be saved you if only they believed
what is called serious, if brief
enough, let it be thought hydraulic the book and volume
if not a law-

a millisecond of knowledge against a chromatic progression of ages
along linens on the walls

not so much a problem of poetry, but the influence of youth
having abandoned the voluptuous surface and still conservative
without a willingness to conserve though too easily accepting
the soil is immortal, if taken to the extreme

what is called sinking


Aristotle, Plato, Socrates (in Unison) Sing to the Birds

Whether in the ringing invisibility or on the threshold of
some fundamental question, the fundamental question is
how long before accepting the first ring or coming up without answers
to the most serious estimates of what was never a question of whether it
or whether its only a recollection of what your not missing
like virtue or the use-value you hope to exchange on an up-tick in the
of those who can't learn that they never learn what they should
and those who do must teach
and teach us not to be so busy taking our half from the
middle of the road, just for an example.



Free to warship

free to flee
free to be brought to an easy boil

by the wrong words, the right order
but there's that inevitable shallowness of the audience that learns only
from remorse
so that when speaking or spoken to, there's always a higher vulture
structured as a form of candor
as in "I'll do exactly what I please"
but what's left but beak of bird, tuft of cloud.

To condors, it's all condors
it is not an inflection of innuendo quaking inside a frog

but in the end, for a few bucks and a bottle of naughty oil
I worked them into a frenzy of not quite intelligence, not quite infanticide

that they might approach the curtain as mortals, if only just this once
history were the chorus

(c) 2000 Standard Schaefer