Fair Exchange - Poem by Neil Crawford
Diocletian ran the known world
from his cabbage patch in Split.
Officially retired, he would sit
in that garden, dispensing advice.
Generals, Consuls, Courtiers
would seek him out to pick his brains.
All he asked in return, the ex-Emperor,
was that they each admire a cabbage.
Under his broad brimmed hat
he would spin the visual echo,
the tiny, emerald world, before their
glazing eyes he would turn it back and forth.
Eliciting praise for every rib and contour,
every shade of earthy green.
It wasn't too much to ask as he sheltered
from the Dalmatian heat.
An old, cunning man, who knew
how to run a world, promoted,
as he saw it, to growing cabbages
Suitably directed, the 'powerful'
would return to Rome,
to carry on the machinations of
said crumbling Empire.
And all they had to do
was to admire a humble vegetable
Did any understand what Diocletian
was really telling them? .
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