Satan on his way to bring about the downfall of Adam. Gustave Doré’s illustration for Paradise Lost by John Milton. Paradise Lost Book III, lines 739-742 – Wikipedia

I wrote “The Disease” back in the days before I had internet. I was relatively poor, living off savings that I had acquired by living frugally off my Ph.D. scholarship. While other people blew their money on trips, I saved because, well, that’s just the way I am. Save for a rainy day so you’re not totally up the creek without a paddle when things don’t go the way you want.

Things indeed didn’t go the way I wanted but my martyrdom, if you will, was what some folks call a “white martyrdom.” You live but the people who screwed you make sure you’ll never live the way you hoped for. I personally hold one individual responsible—a dishonorable scoundrel who came to Canada from a communist country. But this is not the place for my story.

Much worse than a white martyrdom is a so-called “red martyrdom.” That’s when you just die for no fair reason. And that’s what happened twenty years ago today.

This poem was written around 1997-1999. I can’t remember exactly. I just remember sitting in my old apartment with my antiquated laptop, unconnected to any internet, and writing this almost entirely stream-of-consciousness verse.

While typing, I noticed just how spooky the lines were getting (rotting sky…all are doomed to die) and didn’t really know why.

I almost deleted the darker verses but decided to leave things unchanged for the sake of artistic integrity.

Was I foreseeing 9/11? Or was I talking about the dark forces behind the person who screwed me? Maybe both are connected. You never know.

The Disease

I’ve watched it grow
I’ve seen it sow
true minds into despair

souls of sorrow
ladened deep
burning horrid stares

I’ve seen it work
at lightning speed
to destroy mankind’s seed

through the air
it does its deed
this is its only care

sans partiality
sans decency
Yes, this is “the disease”

You over there!
you believe you’re clear
of this melancholy breeze?

Well let me tell you
if you please
it’s a fatal,
dreadful siege

For once contracted
once enacted
you’ll go on normally
“it’s okay”
“I’m just fine”
“yes, I think I am still free”

But then, alas!
the grippe is tightened
beyond all points of ease
and shipwrecked sailors on the sea of life
all drown

Yes I’ve seen this blight
‘cross this land
and winds are blowing high
no apple pie nor starlit nights
will save this rotting sky
all is darkened
all are dead
all are doomed to die

Lance it fast while time remains
avoid a fearsome plight
destroy this curse
and rest assured
your mark is
for the

Cast it out and let us pray
“Lord give us back our sight”
Cast it out to guarantee,
Truth shall conquer might

The Disease © Michael Clark 1997 to present. All rights reserved.