Reed Venrick

Reed Venrick

Reed Venrick is a writer from the Florida Key islands, usually publishing poems with a nature, travel or philosophical theme.

Learning Again for the First Time

If Plato wrote it in his dialogue,
If he called the “Meno” then,
Then yes, I have to consider it:
That all learning is merely
Re-relearning from a previous
Existence. But in this French

Class 101, I have to ask:
Did I really learn all these
Verb conjugations in a previous
Life? And if so, why are they
So hard to remember now?
Present tense is not so bad,

I can get by; after all, present
Tense was the limit of my study
Of 100 basic verbs back in high
School before covid-19 made
Me shift a lot of things online,
But when I thought all my verb

Learning was done, just when
I was wiping away the sweat,
I was told by our “professeur de francais,”
“Now, something else you must
Learn; it’s called “subjunctive,” which
Is not a tense, you see, but a mood.”

Really? Looks like a verb tense
With all the usual number changes,
Making me feel like I’m starting
All over again, not only with those
Predictable regular verbs, but with
Shape-shifting, irascible “irregulars.”

Sometimes when in study, trying
To energize my brain with hot,
Black coffee and chocolate bars,
I wonder: was I swinging a sword
Or sharp-saber back in proto-history?
Or later, during the Roman republic,

Was I was plowing the barley and
Millet along with Cincinnatus
With the oxen, horses, mules?
Maybe picking olives near the coast
Of Marseille? Catching cod in those
Petulant Mediterranean waves?

Now, Albert Camus informs me
That absurdity is the basis of existence,
So no doubt I was just as busy back
Then, just as stressed out in my previous,
Metaphysical life, back when I was
Wandering along the coastline

That the Romans first called “La cote
Provencal.” I must have acquired
An ear for the Latin lingo back then,
But I fear I learned my verbs poorly,
Those millennia before I signed up for
This romance language—still I’m an optimist,

I look forward to French 201, since
I realize, thanks to Plato, I’ve learned
This aesthetic-flowing syllabic language before—
Even if it indelicately makes me gargle
My throat before I can speak the R!

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Poetry in this post: © Reed Venrick
Published with the permission of Reed Venrick