by Louis Gallo
My beautiful young wife and I invited
Aristotle over for supper one night
because, frankly, no one thinks about him
much anymore and we felt he might be lonely.
He arrived with a cheap bottle of wine,
Sangria of all things, and looked disheveled
and downcast. He resented that line
by Wallace Stevens, “Aristotle is a skeleton”
(a line that has haunted me as well).
Who is not a skeleton? he asked not quite
rhetorically as he stroked my wife’s blushed cheek.
“Your precious skin, my dear, is but a veneer,
a mask disguising the ghastly skull. Terrible
to say, I know, but what can you do?”
I tried to change the subject to The Poetics.
I argued that tragedy befalls all of us
not merely the high and mighty, not
merely Oedipus or Hamlet because they
have regal blood. Aristotle shrugged,
“What difference does it make? If you
or your gorgeous wife [and here he stroked
her cheek again] die only a few people—
your friends, family—will know, remember
for a while then they too will die and
it will be as if you never existed. But
when Oedipus or Hamlet dies, we all remember.
That’s the real difference—and precisely
because they have royal blood.
I asked about his former pupil Alexander.
“Ah, there’s another. No one will forget him.
He was so arrogant and he never fully grasped
my Ethics. Conquered the entire known world
by his mid-twenties. His downfall, that
By this point I’d had it with the old lecher
trying to caress my wife and suggested he leave.
He understood, struggled to rise from the chair—
“arthritis, you know, the bones, the bones,
they survive despite it all”—
and slowly hobbled out of the door.
He hadn’t eaten a bit of his blackened catfish
Linda had taken so much time to prepare.
A recipe straight out of Paul Proudhomme.
As I helped her wash the dishes, I noticed
a faint indentation on her cheek, a black
shadowy silhouette of five bony fingers.
I watched her lips hum softly as she
scraped away the catfish into our disposal.
Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortlyappear in Southern Literary Review, FictionFix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, NewOrleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, BerkeleyFiction Review,Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, PennsylvaniaLiterary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth, Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio),Greensboro Review,and many others. Chapbooks include The Truth Change,The Abomination of Fascination and StatusUpdates. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. Heteaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.