Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Great Powers

China will be the next great power.

The 21st century belongs to China.

Nothing can stop the rise of the Chinese juggernaut.


I hear these pronouncements daily now

Like a mantra spoken religiously to this idol of the future

By pundits and publishers, financial wizards and frenzied technocrats

Doctors and drunks, politico-poets and pallid prosecutors

All of them gripped with expectation and envy.


I still see China as the gangly son

Of some great althlete, whom everyone expects

To fill out in the course of a summer

And become a bone-jarring beast like his dad.


I think more about this on the bus to Jing’An Temple

Shanghai’s newest city center with spindly skyscrapers

Popping up in dust and refuse like a bad case of acne

Unable to be restrained, a nuisance of development.


The TV on the bus is playing the third report in my memory

About the newest talking magpie or parakeet that says:

Nihao, zaijian and byebye.

Although last time, it was nihao, zaijian and hello.

I guess people at the last featured bird spot

Were more fond of saying hello than byebye.

Maybe the shopkeeper was an asshole

And byebyes weren’t necessary.


The segment ends and another begins:

A girl who’s become a balloon-animal wunderkind,

Twisting up swords and flower bouquets

Bridegrooms and cartoon characters

In an awe-inspiring display of carnival-styled genius.

They ask the girl if she’s afraid the balloons will pop,

And she says she’s used to it.

Then it dawns on me:

These are the real trappings of power.

I’ve seen it all before.

Cutesy animal shorts and children’s tricks

Soon give way to interventions

Escalations, assertions of economic dominance

In order to ensure their continued presence

On the TVs in buses and skyscrapers

Promising their viewers that their pets

And balloon gifted children

Might claw their way onto the screen too.


When I get off the bus at Jing’An

I see a young man in a beauty salon

Feeling his flexed bicep.

Despite his apparent lankiness

I can tell he puts pride into this brawn

What little of it he has.

As if there’s much more to come

And soon the world will have to take note.

posted by ferret at 11:53 am  

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