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image book cover Sometimes in Winter by Conan Kennedy

A b o u t   T i b e t ,
I   R e c k o n

At Stephens Green they light small candles
(Made in China)
The air is pungent with joss sticks
(Made in China)
And the recorded sound of monastery chanting
Emerges from a portable CD player
(Made in China).
A poet watches.
(It goes with the job, watching.)
Whatever about his shoes and outer garments,
He reflects
(It goes with the job, reflecting)
That his underpants are made in China,
As indeed no doubt are the knickers
Of the pretty girls protesting
About cultural genocide in Tibet.
The demo is a colourful scene,
A nicely placed comma in the dull paragraph
Of another Dublin morning.
Strange flags wave in the breeze.
The scents and the sounds
Of the far Himalayas are here,
A welcome break in the working week.
All we need is a yak.
The occasional Chinese passer by walks on,
Inscrutable as ever but obviously wondering
Why the People’s Liberation Army haven’t cleared
These Tibetan knackers from The People’s Highway.
(Or whatever the Chinese equivalent of knackers.
There must be one.
What with all those Tibetans in The Empire).
Cultural genocide my arse,
Their smooth Han faces seem to say.
( Or whatever the Chinese equivalent of arse.
There must be one.
A country turning out millions of undergarments a year
Could hardly survive without a word for arse.)
The generality of native Dubliners pass by too,
Equally unmoved by the protest.
Some carry Starbucks coffee cups,
Those sacred emblems of their caste
Through the crowded street to clear the way
Among the lesser groups,
The Café Sol Clan,
The Insomnia Sect,
Each with their own insignia in their hands,
And each one far above
The embarassing Untouchables
With their shameful nameless brands.
Cultural genocide, the poet wonders
With a questionmark.
(It goes with the job, wondering,
As indeed do questionmarks).
Moodily (that too) he makes to go.
And then he hears a passer by,
South County Dublin accent,
Definitely, IT executive, probably,
Mention to a companion
About Tibet, I reckon.
The poet shrugs, and moves away.
(Yes it goes with the job,
Shrugging, and moving away).
About Tibet?
That bloke reckons?
Well, he reckons pretty wrong.
There’s a Starbucks in Beijing.


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