Napoleon

Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte born,
asks teacher.

A thousand years ago, the children say.
A hundred years ago, the children say.
Last year, the children say.
No one knows.

Children, what did
Napoleon Bonaparte do,
asks teacher.

Won a war, the children say.
Lost a war, the children say.
No one knows.

Our butcher had a dog
called Napoleon,
says Frantisek.
The butcher used to beat him and the dog died
of hunger
a year ago.

And all the children are now sorry
for Napoleon.

Miroslav Holub, “Napoleon” from Poems Before & After.  Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd., www.bloodaxebooks.com.
Source: Poems Before and After (Bloodaxe Books, 2006)
More Poems by Miroslav Holub