Deaths of the Eminent Philosophers

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This one jumped into Mount Etna,
as free as free will gets.
This one died in his childhood bedroom
crushed by student debt.

This one sought the philosopher’s stone
and brained himself when he found it.
This one saw a horse get flogged
and threw his arms around it.

This one died chin-deep in dung,
convinced it would cure his dropsy.
This one overdosed on morphine
in Catalonia fleeing Nazis.

This one died of erisypelas,
a fancy skin disease
that sounds like the name of a soulless sophist
who snitched on Socrates.

This one died of flu, a very
unmemorable death
in a town unforgettably hard to pronounce,

Death endures the Gifford Lectures.
Death is unimpressed.
Materialists can’t make the countdown
matter any less.

In the magical cave whose open-sesame
is Cogito ergo sum,
the crown and the coins, the lamp and the genie
illuminate a tomb.

Descartians, Marxists, Kantians all
arrive at the selfsame crux
as cell by cell the sum of all their
cogitations deconstructs.