Conspicuous at Olympia (Incantation for Gorgias)

Speech is a powerful master and achieves the most divine feats with the smallest and least evident body. It can stop fear, relieve pain, create joy, and increase pity.

I’ll tell you I want you
to unconceal you, to
feign to do the same for
you, to convince trust in
a truth no excuse can
prove was worth its abuse.

Contrive to concede with
no consequence some glimpse
of my psyche’s vivid
interior realm’s film
denuded of its tin
canister’s crude, viscous,

glycerin-rimmed disk of
well-rounded, protective
illusory skin, but
never will reveal to
you how square I even
truly feel. No, not when,

or until, we two bleed
Polaroid again our
various neuroses’
nerve-shot imperfections,
unshaken. As in their
peeling, paintings and fruit

have each eventual
fallings-off before far
more inevitable
fallings-out. Every
abandoned trend returns
again, waiting to be

worn the way words warm to
tongues until pliant, plied
with saliva until
enlivened. Starred sign* (*sex-
symbol existing out-
side time, immortalized

as I have been, prized for
having lied well, which is
what writers do when they
write, saying so much while
telling nothing at all)
signified, I’d only

be lying as accused
if, by trying too hard,
you meant to imply my
narrative, entirely
unreliable, was
worth your folly’s trouble

of buying. You let the
game you didn’t want to
win begin. Set into
motion your soul’s own slow
undoing when, without
faith, you believed in some-

one else’s confidence
instead of in your Self.
Now, all that’s left is this
verse which collects dust on
a shelf the way an urn
does ashes after death.

1Gorgias of Leontini, “Encomium of Helen”, in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism: Third Edition: Edited by Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie Finke, John McGowan, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Jeffrey Williams, published at New York by W. W. Norton & Company in 2018; page 41.