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I wrote this bit of mad­ness in August 2009, while I was in acute phys­ical agony edged out but not over­come by a quan­tity of nar­cotic anal­gesics that might send a less desen­si­tized soul to spade out his grave. Those hours of ruin have run. How­ever, their residuum is weirdly appealing in rec­ol­lec­tion. The verse has been revised after seven years col­lecting dust.

i should like to cas­cade across the sunny fields of elysium
there beneath the light springing from the shining trees
nour­ished by the sea i will wait
clean and abluted i will wait
untainted by bar­baric venality i will wait
for saturn enthroned above
adorned with cir­clets and gar­lands of flora
then per­haps i will flutter through the meadows of asphodel
where perse­phone might meet me on my way
that i might eat of the blos­soms that sus­tain the dead

with thale i will rest my bones against the ruinous
heaps of ionic splendor that wind along the sacred way
with philo i will stand an embas­sage betwixt greek and jew
stoic and pharisee
reason and revelation
with her­a­clitus i will weep and stand in the river styx
or acheron as charon passes by
and know that not even their murky depths are static
with dem­ocritus and leu­cippus i will atomize the underworld
ever moving
with pliny i will be cer­tain that nothing is certain
and with plutarch i will admit that music if it seek harmony
must inves­ti­gate discord

socrates will meet me then beneath the canopy of the firmament
and we will sip the cooling conium mac­u­latum
and cor­rupt unblem­ished youth with thoughts
we will pray for mad­ness that we may know truth
with plato i will mutter that friends have no dissent
that every pos­ses­sion and every pur­suit is evil
if not worked out in virtue
with dio­genes i will cyn­i­cally conspire
to know the art of slavery and bark and live in a pot
and grouse to the passerby that they hinder the sun
with aris­totle i will mark the absurdity
the absur­dity that a man ought
ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend himself
with his limbs
with him i will manip­u­late speech and embellish reason
i will per­suade the masses and manage the mob
i will enlighten the igno­rant and dis­semble the proud
i will cast an eye to heaven but place my feet in hell
with seneca i will leech three hun­dred mil­lion sesterces
within the space of four years and let my wrists in my hot water
and with cato i will try
try to be vir bonus dicendi peritus

am i one with the cynics
one with the stoics
one with the epicureans
one with the eclectics
one with the scholastics
one with the mystics
am i an anglo or a papist
should i don the garb of richard ap meurig
a welshman and list into a drunken daze
a colony of the king
a char­tered land

by pre­scrip­tion i drink laudanum
my doctor is wise
my chemist takes payment

thoughts trouble me
they swirl within my skull
i drink in metaphysics
i am onto­log­i­cally drunk

am I
are you

the epis­te­mologs pound upon the doors of the mansion

our con­cep­tual schemes
and meet their end

for what is
is it not
is it tomorrow
or yesterday
what is time
is time
i did not mea­sure the world
but then there is a cer­tain coun­ter­fac­tual definiteness


it is a good ques­tion not easily answered
what is an answer
another question

i should like to cas­cade across the sunny fields of elysium
then per­haps i will flutter through the meadows of asphodel
i belong in asphodel but I will not make my end there


i will bend in bold fear before the clement seat
and i will be tested by fire
will i be right­eous and will i be free
WHOSE love pos­sesses me if not HIS
i am
i think i am
because i think HE is
and i am part of HIM
i think

i am
a fault finding
capi­tious critic
my rose-col­ored spec­ta­cles have been removed and snapped
in twain and crushed and trodden on and liquified
in the bowels of the dank, darkest, dirgeful earth

i would give ten guineas to find out which one of my neighbours
pur­loined the lid of my rub­bish bin and replaced it with a split infinitive

chil­dren are born into misery and a slavish existence
live in fear
die in storgic agony
famil­iarity breeds contempt

it is all in latin
although per­haps it should be greek
or maybe hebraic aramaic
with plen­teous respon­so­rials and poly­phonic euphorials
the thu­rifer is a secret freemason
but it is all okay because it is done
done in a fiddleback
the folly of a fiddleback