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Spring/Summer 1998, Volume 15.2



Michael Mott

Michael Mott, Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University, is the author of four novels, an award-winning biography,
The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, and six collections of poetry, including Corday, recently republished.


Sedo Ludere

i. Spinoza Complains to His Neighbor

Friend, sullen friend, my hens
seldom take to the air:
gravitas prevents them.

When they do surely
an ethical man will be proud
to allow them the freedom
earned by their courage.

And yet you bombard
the delicate soles of their feet
with your yard.

This seems doubly hard.

Several prize Barnevelders
have walked lopsided
since your property provided
such a base bastinado.

ii. Cat's Montaigne

In all the years I owned
Monsieur Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

I found him slow on the uptake
mighty quick on the rebound.

I cannot recommend him
though I apprehend
he has made much play
of our supposed play in print.

We were, perforce,
partners. His worst fault
was preoccupation.

Théophile Gautier might
have taught him to concentrate
each prosaic leap to a landing
on all four paws.

Philosophers—all men—
make poor performers,
no match for mice

but then each mouse knows
he or she's
cat's cheese.

iii. Fichte and the Spider

If the world is your idea
spin me another, brother,
when you can.

The tale is in the tail, but
mine, not yours.

Patches of sky, white sunlight.
What happens, if it happens,
on both sides of the window
you write at? And up and down?
I see it and you don't—
not with a periscope—
so go on writing.

I'll spin you in
if you have images to hang there.

just to inform you,
outside on the canal pollarded things
like burnt off threads
flow backwards to their roots.

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