Where did the books go?

The “Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted around 1562. Photo: Museo Nacional del Prado, Wikimedia

We read in school about suffering writers, about novels of suffering,
stories from eternal gripers,
We read in school about history, about health,
about scientific mystery,
We sit in damp classrooms to hear lectures about fate, the death of Banquo
and guilt’s tyranny upon the irate,
We read in school the cynics of yesterday, laugh at the overdramatic death of
characters overwhelmed by the grey

But what about poems that explain disease, memoirs from the plague
rotting among fleas,
When did we forget that we have words from the other side of death,
that we possess novels about human inability to face nature,
poems, songs, plays, diatribes and the rest,
When did we forget that we are so small,
are like rodent-size dependents waiting for the fall
or a saviour from the angels beside the one who knows all

Where did 1918 go in the history book texts,
viral disease in the health pamphlets,
Where did human vulnerability go
when we were taught medicine had vanquished the foe,
Where were the nurses, emergency doctors
when we sang the anthem for violence-adopters
Where did we lose the memoirs from death,
when sickness as now fell upon Lady Liberty’s breast

When did we fail to see the books that reminded us
that viral infections ignore our arrogance and power lust,
Why did the studies of fate fail to produce this catastrophe
leaving us quarantined at home waiting to atrophy,
Where did the books go, I think we all know
why we chose to ignore the words
well, what did Napoleon say
at the fall of his broadswords
when he lost an entire empire in a single day


  1. Americans killed 12 million Native People’s with smallpox. The Irish Famine killed 1 million Irish. There is a peradventure in our society about what racism is. No one knows. Innocence is a famine in and of itself, belying the wise and known elite who feast on dead bread.


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