The Disappearance of the Flies
By Christopher Bernard
“Did I ever tell why I no longer call myself a humanist?”
—Overheard at a climatology conference
So, the word’s finally out:
I am the world’s Caesar,
and you are my Christians.
Not that I hate you absolutely—
on the contrary, for the most part
I enjoy you;
those of you I cannot eat
or flog into subservience,
to help me, or amuse me, or decorate my
upscale live-work high-end design space
now, or by no later than the end of next quarter,
are just in the way,
as I thrust ahead
to glory, to a sweet, psychotic power,
and a suffocating wealth
built on the dependable human delight
in the enchanted moment of acquisition.
I’ve got you,
I’ve got the world.
It is no longer God’s or nature’s;
it is mine,
I own you,
I who hate to have and love to get.
There was once a despot
whose footsteps bloodied his time.
After he had conquered the world,
bored with his possessions,
he decided to destroy them:
slaughtered his slaves, his women, his sycophants,
sent his soldiers to the ends of his empire
to pillage and sack it, out of boredom and rage
that he had no more worlds to conquer.
He burned his own palaces to the ground.
In a crazy drunk one night,
he broke his neck in a ditch.
The peasants crept up to his small, pale body,
the body that had conquered the world,
and watched the flies flickering above it.
Today there were no peasants.
There were no flies.
Christopher Bernard is a poet, novelist, essayist, photographer and filmmaker living in San Francisco. He is author of the novel A Spy in the Ruins,The Rose Shipwreck: Poems and Photographs, and a collection of stories, In the American Night. He is also co-editor of the webzine Caveat Lector.