Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquakes and floods

"The nuclear plant might explode - what are we to do?"
Well, maybe we'll watch the news on our flatscreen TVs
from our dens, mugs of coffee in our hands,
praying. For the victims, yes.
The ones clinging to the rungs of palm trees
or the ones turning up large rocks to look for
lost sisters,
dead children.

We'll pray fervently. Dear God,
save them.
And then we'll smile secretly and whisper,
though we won't admit it, not even to ourselves,
Poor bastards. Thank goodness I'm not there.

Because the couch is warm, and the coffee is hot,
and we gaze at swirling waters and floating carnage
through bars,
like we would exotic animals in a cage,
knowing that it is only safe to do so because there are
hundreds of miles of stormy oceans
and strange lands and vast continents
between us and them,
the ones we send haphazard prayers to.
We're safe.

Sideline spectators.
There's a name for our role. We look upon disaster
with the same half-interested bemusement
as if we were watching a mildly interesting movie
narrated by whitened teeth and straightened hair,
knowing that in a few days,
we won't be grieving for people we don't know,
we won't be praying over foreign corpses,
and when we've seen waves snap bridges and wash over cars
for the tenth time, we'll stop watching
because it won't be so interesting anymore.

We'll make toast for breakfast
and think about the weather
and how much gas costs
and hope that they can clean up debris
in time for our next vacation.

Because when it all comes down to it,
we, the living, know nothing of death.

3/12/11- A graphical illustration done by my dear friend, N.


  1. This is brutally, painfully honest. And unfortunately true. You've written what many people feel but precious few will vocalize.

  2. I really, really pity you if you actually harbor this sentiment. You should look into finding what real, true empathy is. It feels good.

  3. You're preaching to the choir, Saul James.
    This is a satirical commentary.

  4. Whoever this Saul James character is, he obviously isn't too perceptive of tone.


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