The Extemporary Reflections of Marquis de Grouchy

Le monde est plein de fous… -Le Petit

What is history but a fable written by fools?

Or the mirror’s vaunting – as if necessity could be
Reclaimed by parting hairs split to their roots
The way the Greeks had before the tumbled gates
Of Thermopylae would yield to history –
(The price of fame? The cost of being there…
The price of anonymity? Ah! But who would care?)
And Sparta, greasing up, combed and handsomely oiled
For one more shouting jag with spear and shining shield,
Knew that any final preening primps and glances
Wouldn’t hurt nor help survive their chances.

Or the mirror’s haunting – as if mortality can
Capture alive even by a winking sidelong
Glimpse at the backside of one’s head (Wouldn’t Armstrong
Forget to live or breathe or ride a bike or dance?
Or remember weightlessness, pulling on his pants?
Or sigh in frequent out-of-spacesuit-experiences
As evening stilled the wind, saddened the autumn air?
He turns the porch light down low: full moonrise out, out there –
A bald spot on the dark side of nostalgia says,
“Unreachable now – or ever again.”).

Or the mirror’s taunting – as if passivity mixed
In great men and small souls coincidentally
Imparted smarting clarity, an explanation
Of what occurred on St. Helena, colonized
After Waterloo and Wellington: champagne
Luncheons surrendering secrets of each campaign
With rue as fragrantly bitter as the weed it baptized –
(Ah, un malheur ne vient jamais seul!)
What Josephine saw in her modest vanity
As she sat and primped in history’s boudoir –

The abattoir of sanity! The playground of the fool!



  1. Wonderful poem.

  2. A shame I deleted something earlier in haste.

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    If you believe…

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