Joan Chen

 The Ones, the Others

                                   A poem for the ‘red shirts’ in Bangkok
                                            For the left in Pakistan, for the
                                           ‘indigenes’ of the Altiplano

I hear you saying that
     left and right have no meaning 
        and I can see your point
What meaning should we attribute 
        to these terms today
              when the ones and the others
                              in so many countries
              embrace the same policies?
     Cut down on welfare
        cut taxes for companies!

    They increase
               what they choose to call
     The loneliness of people…
 when these are told:
            Fend for yourself! No one
                                  is on your side!

   What can I say in response?
  What can I answer – ?
When the foundering regimes in the East
    lied as much as ours! 

       And better even, you add
      forcing me to be silent…

   What can I say when none of them
            cared for the world
                nature, its beauty and manifold wealth
            fellowmen going hungry…

  They robbed, they stole 
       from the common treasure trove
                thinking it was free
                            free to be wasted
                        and carelessly spoiled

         No, left and right lose every meaning
               if they act like this 
              if they distrust
                       the people
              if all that matters to them
                   is holding on
                                         to the power they wield

             And still, and still
           in my dream at night
                        in my unvanquished hopes
             I discover the alternative
                 I sense the beauty 
             of common folk 
                                       like you and me

                           and I see a way out 
                     an escape from the impassé  
                    that has made left and right
                                  sound like hollow words
                               words without meaning

                      Yes, we can share
                       … can be cooperative
                       can be friendly 
                                and help one another

                       And we can do 
                                               without the powerful
                                who ruin our world

                                                                     April 12, 2010

                                    go back to Art and Society # 15