Death by Ignorance

I met a man upon the road.

He walked with mournful tread.

Upon his back he carried

A load of bulk and dread.


He smiled at me politely

Dropped his baggage to the ground.

He said that he was selling

Something mighty and profound.


I rolled my eyes in doubt

And asked him with a taunt,

"What could you be selling

That I could really want?"


His face grew dark and honest,

As he gave me his reply,

"The object I am offering

Is surely worth your while."


"For this, a million men have died.

They've yelled and bled and fought.

For this, they’ve searched the universe,

Everywhere they've sought."


"This thing I offer unto you

Is more valuable than gold.

At its hand, kings have fallen

And empires forced to fold."


"Bright eyes cannot see it,

But the blind can understand.

Sharp ears cannot hear it,

Yet the deaf follow its command."


"Scientists say it's nonsense.

Philosophers claim it isn't there.

Religious men ignore it

But it may be found through prayer."


"I can only stop a moment

So if you want it tell men now.

Its power lasts a lifetime

That much I can vow."


He finished his description

And waited for my reply.

I looked at him with interest,

But all I could do was sigh.


"You see," I said, "I can't afford

This thing it is you're selling.

The price is far too high

Although your reasons are compelling."


I hung my head and walked away.

I did not hear him cry,

"You'll need this on your journey

Without it you will die!"


As soon as I had left him,

I was filled with deep regret.

I pushed along my way,

But I still could not forget.


Once I turned to look behind,

But the man was gone away.

I thought of running after him,

But I feared it was too late.


I tried to shake the feeling

To ignore my rash mistake.

I began to laugh hysterically

And scoffed at that old flake.


If he was selling something good,

Then why was he so poor?

His clothes were so outdated,

His body rough and sore.


Surely I missed nothing,

No buy of great import.

He merely wanted money

And thought I would be sport.


An hour passed into the day.

The thought had left my mind.

When I came to a diverging road,

Which led up a steep incline.


I pondered for a moment

The way that I should go.

To the left or to the right?

If only I could know.


I'd heard about these roads

That one led to destruction.

The other led to perfect bliss.

How I wished I'd had instruction.


Then, suddenly two bulky men

Came trotting up the road.

They argued with a fire

About where to take their load.


"Pardon me," I asked them,

"Which path should I follow?"

"Right!" yelled one in anger.

"Left!" the other hollered.


From their answers it was clear

One of them was lying.

But who I did not know,

There seemed no point in trying.


So I sank dejectedly

Beside a thorny fern.

"If only I had known the truth,

I would know which way to turn."


"Truth!" I cried out like a fool,

"It all makes perfect sense.

The man was selling truth.

Oh, why did I cringe at the expense?"


"For, now, I'd give each earthly prize

To have that blessed wisdom.

I'd sell all the things I own.

On a whim, I'd freely give them."


"Truth!" I sprang with wild eye,

I came violently alive.

"I need the truth!" I screamed,

"I need the truth if I am to survive."


I waited in the forest,

But still no answer came.

The leaves cried out with sympathy

As I yelled, "Truth!" again and again.


"I can't have missed my chance,"

I sobbed, "Now where will I go?

From here it's luck or death;

I have no way to know."


Bitterly, I took to running

Down the flatter road.

"I don't need truth!" I cried,

"I'll do it on my own."


I felt more relaxed

The more I went along.

I saw so clearly; heard so sharply.

How could I be wrong?


But then the ground grew mushy,

It vanished beneath my feet.

I was spinning, quickly falling

Down to the depths beneath.



I lay weakly on the dirt.

Pangs of fire; bolts of lightning

My structure damaged, hurt.


I stared up blindly at the sun,

Wishing for something to soothe.

As my blood ran out, I whispered,

"All I need is truth."








This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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