Friday, April 13, 2007


Our infectious lifestyle

Peter Huber wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal called "The coming plague." I think it is from a work not yet published. The principles of privacy and personal autonomy combined with the resurgence of germs was a very interesting and . . .almost poetic motif. Here's my poem based on his essay. Please note: he didn't say anything about libraries--I took that from concerns I've read in the library literature and my own use of library terminals.

Ode to our infectious lifestyle
of freedom and privacy

I’m nimble on needles
enjoying the bathhouse
prisons and lockers,
on board for the fast louse.

I choose from the choicest
of pustule and sputum
then scan the horizon for
addict and meth bum.

I'll resist your meds while
with staph I’m cavorting,
on TB and syphilis
I’m munching and spawning.

I’ll take guts, skin or marrow
Although I prefer brain--
lungs and liver will do
while you look for my strain.

Faster than lawyers
Smarter than scientists,
I’m brighter than interns,
ahead of hospitalists.

At your library keyboard
I arrive safe and hardy
on the street person who
just wants me to party.

Update: Here's Huber's article on germs that appeared in Spring 2007 City Journal. He has incredible phrases--if you love words, or hate germs, be sure to catch this one. "It was the demise of a germ-hating culture that had helped clear the way for new epidemics of venereal disease". . . "A legal system that affirms the individual’s right to do almost everything at the germ-catching end now struggles to decide when, if ever, we can force the Typhoid Marys of our day to stop pitching what they catch." . . . "In the pantheon of disease and death, lifestyle and genes have completely eclipsed germs." . . . "nature designed an “immunodeficiency” virus—an all-purpose anti-vaccine, so tiny, quiet, slow, methodical, and gentle that it spread unnoticed for decades, and so innocuous that it never quite gets around to killing you at all. It leaves that to the old guard—the bacteria, protozoa, and viruses that invade when your immune system shuts down,. . ."


Regina said...

Whoa- that hits so close to home as my dear daddy died from a staph infection- contacted in the hospital, of course- from all those clean doctors and nurses...
Very powerful, Norma.
Thanks for leaving your comment also about my blog's font. It's so weird, because as you say, I see at least two inches of your background on either side of the blog- but then, I have a 17 in. screen.
Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

This is definitely not a poem for a germ freak to read! Which is me! I feel vindicated and terrible about it! Which of course is just an indication of how good the poem is...nice work Norma.