Lunch with Socrates in Rome, March 6, 2006

Yes he was waiting for us

pacing up and down the columned

arcade, his marble brow a-sweating

not because we were late—which we

were, thanks to the talkative spice

vendor on Campo de Fiori—but

for reasons he could or would not

divulge. His cold marble pate shimmered,

steamed by a pre-Ides sea breeze.

My tenth-grade history teacher,

whose soul by now must surely be at rest,

ardently loved the Greeks, for

she berated me with no mercy

whenever I mispronounced

his name. SOC-rates, I said.

So-CRATES. he corrected. So.

Crates. She loved Aris-ty-TOLE, too,

got on me for errors of tongue,

forgetting the minds, the reasons

they wagered, questioned, argued.

This was my introduction to the uncanny.

To this day I cannot look at a stack of packing boxes

without thinking of sweaty brows.



By the time we sat down for lunch

that day in March 2006,

the morning steam had cleared.

Brows were cool and dry.

We had a great view of rising birds

over a piazza named for something

built by Marcus Aurelius.

So-Crates, he went for the pizza,

its circle imperfect, human.



  1. Love the irony and the wordplays of this poem. While the first person narrator seems to be giving great value to philosophy classes and to the great heritage of ancient Greece at the same time, she or he makes fun of all. Great, thanks for sharing!


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