Essay

What is Past is Prologue [Poem]

A man telling a story to another man

At a bar in Brooklyn

Sometime in the mid eighties or nineties,

I think maybe I have conflated the persons

Who were the principal actors in this recollection

From when I was either three or two decades younger.

I convey this in memory of our fathers,

Of their past past reckoning . . .

Yes, this man, telling a story to another man,

Said what he said as he did

When he did

Wherever it was he did

To the other sitting with him listening, as he was,

To the story about how yet another man had said something

About someone saying something about Agamemnon,

To which it was put as follows:

“He said, ‘Agamemnon launched a thousand ships, not Helen.

If Helen had looked like a monkey,

A hundred thousand Greeks would still have battered Troy.'”

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