Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Socrates and John the Baptist--Infection by Shane Guthrie

Socrates and John the Baptist got in a fist fight

Socrates with his leading questions

John pouring a jug of wine on his head

Nothing major, you see

Just a misunderstanding about the tab

That they'd somehow rung up

Neither would cop to the expense

After they had both fallen on the floor

And forgotten how they'd gotten there

They walked out the door as friends

The wait staff collecting the dirty clothes

And scribbled pages

They'd left behind

And sold them as holy relics

And grand philosophy

(the tab must be paid somehow)


They breathed fire

The mist of saliva and everclear

Igniting like a firework

Melting soul-patches

While everyone cheered

It was the night of their life

Immortality proven by survival

The music was loud enough to wake

The Peterson's next door

Neither hearing-aid turned on

But the vibration enough

To shake them from their adjustable bed

When the old man yelled

Vainly into the night

For quiet

He imagined how respectful, reasonable and upright

He had been 'at that age'

And went back to bed

Swung wildly

The crossing-guard stop sign was no match

For the speeding SUV's distracted momentum

The children were fast

Or bounced

But that old man with the reflective vest

Crumpled up like a mosquito

Against the radiator

Over the wreckage

A woman with coffee spilled all over her

Finally hung up


Pulled beards

Were no help

The only thoughts that came out

Of such deliberation were:

"I have a nice beard"

So the silence went on

Each one of us hoping

That someone smarter would speak up

"Very interesting"

Someone started

"I agree"

"Quite a problem"

"Well, the only thing to do about it

I suppose, is to ascertain the Will of the People"

Which was quickly seconded


And removed from our concerns


Shouted and screamed

I love you

Sounds more like a command

Or a curse

Sounds just like

I hate you

Kicked up a dust storm

Dancing in the desert

So fast and so hard

Like it would bring the rain

Threw off our clothes

Like they would become animals again

Let our skin burn

Like burning was a penance

Like our whiteness, exposed

Could become something else

Something better

We touched like it was forgiveness

For sins we've committed so casually

And with such industry

It doesn’t feel like anything anymore

When the night came

And we lay down in the sand

It got so cold so fast

I thought we'd die

And that we would be sink down

To become seeds

For some grand forest

When morning came

We saw the mess we'd made

And hurt from hung over eyes to broken toe

We drove home

In total silence


That was seen for miles

And this was only seen through the keyhole

I would not expect you to know it

The day the buildings fell in burning ruin

I was just trying to write a resume

Trying to get myself into a job

And I knew

That things were not going to get easier

St. Peter broke the fight up

Using his key like a sword

To smite them both to the ground

And deliver a famous line

From the gospels

Which was the moral of the story

I suppose

Though most of it was fighting

Not found in the bible

In the movie

He was played, appropriately

By professional wrestler

The Rock


John the Baptist had a bloody nose

Sloppy washing after the beheading

But she didn't mind that

She didn't need the souvenir

It was for her mom anyway

Though she had to wonder

How a head was worth

Half a kingdom

And Socrates lost an ear

When the bust hit the marble floor

With a great crack

In the silence of the museum

Docents came running

Like it was Murder

And I put my hands up

Not sure what they'd do

But they rushed to the broken ear

Sending everyone away

While I apologized and apologized

Two weeks later

You couldn't tell the difference

Sometimes I think the artifacts

Are mostly glue


Swallowed whole by the locust eater

One less hungry mouth

In a wave of billions

Not enough

Never enough

But the beak keeps picking them off

A smorgasbord

While it lasts

After all

The famine is riding their heels


After the fight

I never thought I'd talk to him again

Never thought we could see each other

And not immediately start up again

Knowing how wrong he was

How stupid

But somehow when I saw him on the bus

We nodded warily

Mentioned the weather

And never brought it up again

Which, being men

Should not have been surprising at all


Socrates heard crickets everywhere he went

Some defect in his inner ear

I suppose

That's why he was always getting into trouble

Asking what? Why?

Couldn't quite hear people

They thought he was mocking him

At least

That's what I read

On the internet


Quit his philosopher job

At the help desk phone bank

Asking Socrates questions

"Is the computer plugged in?"

"Have you turned it on?"

"Have you tried reinstalling?"

And got a job in voice-over work

For cartoons

And corporate training videos

If Jesus came back today

He'd be the first apostle

And became an exterminator

Of roaches

Of ants

Of mice

And became a consumer

Of donuts

Of pizza

Or hot-dogs

And forgot all about




Finally, becoming nothing but

A few numbers

A large, soft corpse

A small box to keep it in

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