In America, demonstrators protest against
democracy for Hong Kong
while waving Old Glory and the flag
of the PRC.
In China, demonstrators protest against
a communist regime
and are tear-gassed and brutalized
by their police.
Those who should know the value of democracy
and oppress it in the safety of a democracy…
I wonder if they sleep at night.
I wonder if they ever stop and think.
*Note: This poem was written in response to a demonstration I witnessed with Pro-China vs. Pro-Hong Kong demonstrators across the same street. If you are unfamiliar with what is happening in Hong Kong, here is a recent summary from CNN. Be aware that there is no free press in mainland China and news is state approved. Hong Kong officials must also be China-approved before they run for office and are largely pro-PRC.
The sun sets finally on the man
who for so long pushed it back
concerned for a child scared of the dark.
Now, she looks up and seeing the stars,
weeps and prays at their light.
old coats and blankets
worn and washed until
the seams gave way
and mended haphazardly
to make them last that extra while
in remembrance of she
who gifted one and cut
and sewed other
Upon waking, bad dreams
that dissipate into smoke
still linger with a foul stench
Pale pink petals unfurl
Minute against budding branches
Lingering chill of winter
a cold wind caresses my cheeks
in a tingling reminder
to leave behind stillness
when inner thoughts
For years I sent you Christmas cards and never received a reply.
Once, my well wishes included an apology because we had argued.
(Neither the card nor the apology was acknowledged.)
This year, I lost someone and decided I would try one last time.
I thought that at least a goodbye should be full of good intentions and sweet.
This was the year, you decided to thank me for my card.
I cried, knowing I would never send you another one.
you who brought her to the doctor
and signed for her packages
so that her parents wouldn’t berate her
for expensive spending habits
once told me, she asked if you were in love with her
and you said no
but from then on,
it was push and pull
an isolation from other friends
she had seen the color of your heart
found the pen to scribble over it
like a child vandalizing her belongings
THIS IS MINE
and still you persisted
even as you told me
where we would eat
what we would watch
what we would do
until one day I said no
and you fell silent
love or friendship
we are human beings
and not things to be used or tossed
or pulverized to fill
the gaps of other people’s wounds
as days grow colder
my rescued hyacinths
push up from the soil
as if expecting a new spring —
I won you at a street fair
five years ago
a lifetime ago
before illnesses, deaths, and weddings
everyday, I stopped by your tank
fed you your flakes
every week, I changed your water
and you would be happy to see me
today, you passed away
I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more
than a 5 gallon home
which always felt a little too cramped
you were important;
when I felt all alone
I sat by you and spoke:
“We’re both just trying our best to live.”
thank you for being in my life
if you start a new one
I’m sure it’ll be as wonderful as you were