Don’t be Syrian,
Don’t be a working-class black teen;
Be a middle-class kid, preferably white, from a two-parent home.
Don’t live within reach of a drone.
Don’t be pictured with a joint while alive,
Don’t let your fingers be seen anywhere near a gang sign.
Don’t date a man who hates you with all the breath in his breast
Since, when he eventually kills you, they’ll just say
“You should have left”.
(On which note,
Don’t die at the hands of a male celebrity –
that never ends well.)
Don’t be Syrian –
you heard us the first time.
If you’re Syrian,
Your problem is that you may die in a conflict too complex for people to understand,
Or so monotonous in its gore
That they’ll merely throw up their hands.
Don’t die a dull Third World death,
Failed by healthcare,
In a land where diarrhoea is lethal as Ebola.
Don’t die a death that fascinates people,
Or your existence will be chopped up and podcasted,
Fed back to us as pop culture.
Don’t die a death where we risk getting distracted
By the fact your suspected killers
Are particularly attractive.
When you die,
Make sure we can relate to you.
Do some charity or some public service.
We’re busy. We need to know quickly
That you weren’t worthless.
If you don’t die how we like
Then you’ll be killed twice:
The first time, when you lose your life
And the second time, when the world destroys your memory as well –
You see, our affections abandon nothing more swiftly
Than a story that’s not easy to tell.