Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 2 , November 2015


A Philosopher in the Brothel

Philip Neilsen

  I’d heard that you can pay just to talk
  and it turns out to be true, which is a relief,
  but she keeps interrupting me with questions
  I can’t answer and suggestions for being-in-the-world
  that never occurred to Heidegger.
  She says a lot of clients babble about carpe diem 
  but wouldn’t know a joyful moment from a teapot.
  I mention Freud, how flesh and fluids
  distracts from anxiety about our extinction.
  She laughs and agrees that seems about right—
  so much denial on hands and knees, but death
  will still take you with your legs or arse in the air.
  Nietzsche’s Übermensch could forgo transient pleasure:
  I suspect he had the same trouble as me getting it up.
  But then she paraphrases Marcus Aurelius:
  let every action be done as if it were your last,
  do everything out of kindness,
  because the glossy famous and suffering nobodies
  are all now less than puffs of smoke.
  And, she whispers, remember Boethius,
  nothing can rise without a cause. 
  So a cause I find in beauty and survival,
  this moment with her soft hand upon me.
  Neither bold nor coward I shudder,
  let go of thought, the golden mean.
  Finally, a limp rubber and late deposit,
  this short walk to the car
  under a sun which also will die,
  but happily,
  long after my afternoon tutor and I.