Category Archives: philosophy

Post – Leibniz cinquain

Monad Cinquain

Many souls float,
reflecting each other.
They perceive all, but do not see


The cinquain has the form of  5 lines with 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables.  The inventor of this lovely form had the unfortunate name of “Crapsey.”  On the other hand, I studied math from a very reputable textbook written by “Dull and Dull.”

Post-Ockham In The Subway

Ockham in the Subway

Su2 train exit at 72nd

#2 train exit at 72nd St.

I’m heading uptown on the 2,
gasping in the unconditioned,
unconditional summer sweat.
Reading a hard book. Trying to.

John cut some down at Avignon,
named them heretics. They fled.
His dread of papal power slipping,
unnamed them. But, we are not unnamed.

John cut their vows of poverty,
their ban on private owning.
Franciscans all, fugitives all:
William of Ockham, Bonagratia and Michael.

For William, species naming was a problem.
Can’t be real. Can’t be universals in the sky.
I am William, come from Ockham.
I am I.     I am.    I.

I ride and puzzle species names.
Its Zabar’s coffee, that I drink, not Drink.
Its you Babes whom I love, not You.
My essence is here, not Here.

I point. That’s the point.
I am like you, but not you.
There’s no likeness – just I, just you.
In the naming is the making.

Train stops at 72nd. I shove up the stairs,
melt the jam, escape the sweat air.
That cat contemplates along the wall;
Really, what if one had no name at all?

I face the street. I fret – my issue unresolved.
Razor, I could use you now to shave the crowd.
I’m up, I can breathe.
I am I.    I am.    I.

Wait. Look out! The din.
Barbed human takes the margin.
Stomping, arms awry, yelling –
Do anybody know yo name?

William of Ockham and fellow Franciscans were excommunicated by John for refusing bequests to the Church and challenging papal power. Philosophically, he opposed the view that names for universals denoted real entities. His Razor is the principle that less is more. Emerging from the subway to the street, I saw a crazed and pitiful man, unshaven, running wildly in the street, yelling “Do anybody know yo name?”

Post-Leibniz Sonnet

Leibniz Sonnet


Monads reflecting each other

True that all my pretty stones and flowers
are really soulful forces hurled or still?
That each is charged with crystal optic power –
a silver glass, reflecting world and will?

The soul-force leaps but does not see its step
nor know its mate in universal dance.
How can a mirror know or see itself
Its single touchstone is an alien glance?

Some sleep, some wake in deep empyrean space
of God who set them in eternal motion.
I try to capture one – just one- and place
my eye upon the monad of this notion.

Heathen image creeping. Poor aspect. Dull shape.
My monad is a bean; small and brownly baked.


“For Leibniz, the universe is an infinite composite of forces or ‘monads’ which have no space or time. Every monad is a living mirror of the universe, reflecting everything except itself. But, there is no real interaction among them, since each is wholly self-contained; what appears to be causal is just the manifest prior harmony imposed by God.” (History of Philosophy, Thilly)

Post-I, Meno

I, Meno

Socrates as stingray

Socrates as stingray

We walk, then, you and I, on wine-dark beach.
I ask a question, noting grain and wave –
a phosphorescent splash presents a fish,
flat and whiskered, bearing novocaine.

Can you tell me where is virtue born?
Is goodness formed by practice or design,
Or does a teacher transfer noble sights
from incandescent nuggets in his mind?

You say, “Before we probe its provenance,
we have to stop, say first what virtue IS.”
I itemize some just and able acts.
You say, “No virtue there. You cite just bits.”

I’m getting numb. I mean I’m getting dumb.
I’m wriggling on the sand. The stingray struck.

Socrates as stingray is a metaphor from Plato’s dialogue, Meno.

Post-God is Dead

 God was Dead

Nietzsche at Languedoc

Nietzsche at Languedoc

New York – July, 1999

Dear one,

I envy you your beach in Languedoc,
the blue, the white and the salt.
You say there is talk of Nietzsche
with companions in the breezy cafe.
Your Dionysus and Apollo are One.

You say that summer’s secrets –
the Whos, With Whoms and Whens –
unravel before you
over campari and soda till 1 a.m.
You say Yes to life.

Here in city heat, in gray sidewalk heat
we are trapped in stasis.
We ration out our steps.
We try to overcome.
Why is God punishing us?

I’m not having a wonderful time.
I don’t wish you were here
to suffer in the stillness with us
who have nothing left to discuss
except the disgusting weather.

We wish we were plants in cool water
because suspended animation
would be a blessing
as cognition gasps that this is only July –
the hottest in memory.

We welter in schmerz.
When God asked “have you had enough?”
I said yes I said yes I said yes –
but my response had no agency whatsoever
and I knew truly that God was dead.

With great warmth,

I wrote to my philosopher friend spending the summer in Montpellier. Here in New York, the summer was one of the hottest in history.