Sidney Gottlieb’s Ride

listen believers
and you shall hear
another story
to incite your fear
one of the neighbours
(that’s if you are white)
conducts experiments
not only at night
gathering sneezes
capturing coughs
bottling vomit
and feces in troughs
counting your sick
dissecting your dead
all for laboratories
to help you
that’s what he said.
One if by land
Two if by sea
Aerosol sprayed
from the pharmacy.
Then his colleague
with camera
strapped to his arm
flies ’round the world
to spread the alarm
Muskets are needless
No armies invade
Denials go heedless
No blame to evade
That cheerful fellow
has shortened his ride
Spreading fear and alarm
Of the dreadful tide,
bearing perils yellow
with even more harm.

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..