Classic Encounter


by Carleton Raisbeck (October 2018)

Milk, Michael Borremans, 2003





I call them The Academy Peripatetic

because on the dealings of men

they dwell day and night,

and are without

a place to call home.


On the steps of a church

they converge, devoted

to discourse and drink.

(but by morning possess

much less resolve

than Socrates in The Symposium.)


Recently, I saw them sprawled

topless, soaking the sun,

with the richness of Senators

in Roman bath houses.


Stood before them, a defendant; a rhetor,

stained with icons of gods on his skin,

defending a thesis and waving

a chalice of tin.


Deploying an anaphora, he spake:

“I ain’t never seen her.

And I ain’t never touched her.

And I ain’t never gonna see her again.”


But alas, his narratio

though emphatically put,

failed to convince;

a questionable ethos

or a flaw in his logic, perhaps.


And of course, as it does, this discourse became flesh:

a refutatio to the stomach and face

—a conclusion, at least, it may well be said,

with less finality than hemlock.



Carleton Raisbeck is a writer from Dorset.

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