New Year Brainwave
(After rereading The Tempest)
‘You give me fever’—
Madonna on the iPod
Pouring her heart out.
Nursing a common cold,
I dwell on the
Phenomenology of real fevers,
The mellow pleasures of
The low-grade sort—
Dry skin, mildly aching joints,
Mind disengaged from action—
You could fancy yourself a Buddhist monk
Or yogi in placid samadhi;
The irony of ‘moderate’ fever—
You move from chill
And tachycardia to stupor;
And high-grade fever that guarantees
The high of delirium,
After which comes hyperpyrexia—
And farewell life!
Sipping hot tea in bed,
I ride a New Year brainwave:
What if the peddlers of progress
Could equip wielders of power
With an efficient
For writers, artists, intellectuals,
No more than 39° C or 102.2° F,
Should work wonders,
And recalcitrant political activists
Could be taught instant moderation
With moderate fever,
39-40° C or 102.2-104° F.
Jails could be dismantled
And criminals sentenced at home
To a term of ‘high-grade,’
39-42° C or 104-107.6° F.
For capital crimes it’s higher still.
The Global Mega-Power
With its Mega-Fever machines
Could deal similarly with the whole world:
Revive Oriental spiritual traditions
With a ‘low-grade’ pandemic, tame
Rogue states with a mega-dose of ‘moderate,’
Give terrorists a sharp taste of hyperpyrexia.
A perfect solution
To mankind’s ills,
Don’t you think? Utopia!
What are you saying?
Product of a febrile imagination?
So is every bleeding utopia, my friend.