Two Philosophy Students

The discovery of the decayed body of a depressed Brown University student at India Point in Providence, brought to mind this poem. The rain-swept opening scene took place one block from where the student's body was found in the water.
Randall’s umbrella is tatter-torn,
bare spokes inviting leaf-catch or lightning.
Rain pelts his hair, his eyes
     swell shut with sea-brine.
He thinks a thought-wedge
against the wrenching wind:
     this thing above me possesses the form
          of an umbrella,
     therefore it must be
          an umbrella.
     Therefore, I am dry.

Sleet pounds his brow to migraine.
His soiled jeans get a needed washing.
He asks himself: What constitutes
“the Wet” as opposed to “the Dry?”

In lightning flash,
Armando passes Randall,
the wind to his back,
stooped as always,
his shapeless gym bag
weighted with something
the size and shape
of a bowling ball.

His back-pack, drenched now,
contains the yellowed pages
of his doctoral thesis,
begun a dozen years ago.

He sleeps in a carrel
on Level 3 of the Library,
a spot behind a stairwell
that no one enters, ever.

There he will dry himself,
thumbing through Heidegger,
warming his dissertation
from log to turning sheets again,
his gym bag unzipped
to display the head
of his advisor,
gone on sabbatical
some years now
but never missed.

Armando does not like
these rainy afternoons.
The head seems heavier,
smells ever so slightly
as he shuffles upstairs
to the cobwebbed stacks
somewhere between
Metaphysics and Ontology.


  1. Thank you, Brett. Everything a poem should be.


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