The f/k/a Gang would prefer to be idle today, Saturday March 15, 2008. However, we’ve noticed that the term “Ides of March” is still being used in the media as “a metaphor for impending doom.” We can, of course, blame William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar for popularizing this slur of an otherwise perfectly fine day. Sure, the much-idolized emperor was attacked and stabbed on the Ides of March by a group of Roman Senators (including his good friend Brutus, who called themselves the Liberators and feared Caesar might become a tyrant). But that’s not a very good reason to dread the day 2052 years later.
To help demystify and word “ides,” we’ve been using it regularly around this weblog in accord with its mundane meaning from the Roman calendar — the middle of the month: the 15th of March or May or July or October or the 13th of any other month.
Since we are the home of “one-breath poetry” [haiku and senryu short enough to be said with one breath] and are trying to conserve our breath on this lazy weekend morning, we’d like to again suggest a better way to commemorate Caesar’s death: Forget the doom and dread; stay calm, and “take a deep breath” that unites you with Caesar and every other human who ever exhaled and inhaled on this planet [including Echkart Tolle and his webcast buddy Oprah].
As Robert Krulwich reminded us on NPR in 2006, chemistry teachers have long used Caesar’s last breath — consisting perhaps of “10 to the 23rd” power of molecules — as a teaching tool:
“Over the years, a number of scholars have tried to figure out what typically would happen to all those molecules. They figured some were absorbed by plants, some by animals, some by water — and a large portion would float free and spread themselves all around the globe in a pattern so predictable that (this is the fun part) if you take a deep breath right now, at least one of the molecules entering your lungs literally came from Caesar’s last breath.”
Yes, a lot of fairly unsavory folks also contributed to that lungful of molecules, but who’s counting? Not us, it’s just another mid-month Saturday — and we’re glad to still be breathing.
on my sleeve
catching his breath…
off to one side
in scattering blossoms
holding their breath…
leaving the town
….…… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue
Ides of March?
she yawns and hands me
the butter knife
………. by dagosan
lose their heads